Monday, October 12, 2009

I am a twat

Yes, it's official. I am a numpty, an idiot, a grinning beard-faced loon. I am a spoon of the first water and shouldn't be let out in public unsupervised.

Yesterday was a DIY day, much like every other day recently. My major task was finishing up putting insulation under the floorboards in the bedroom. Having suffered a winter of replacing two gas bottles a fortnight, at a cost not far shy of a hundred quid a time, I am determined to insulate this house as much as humanly possible, and since all the carpets are up right now, access to the floor space is relatively easy. I did most of the rest of the house when I was rewiring, but the spare room and bedroom still needed sorting.

It didn't take long, once I'd wrestled up a couple of recalcitrant floorboards with the aid of my trusty circular saw, or 'finesse' as I like to call it. Lovely warm insulation laid, I carefully replaced the boards and then began the task of screwing them all down.

This house was built in 1907, according to the title deeds, and with substandard materials and unskilled labour if the rubbish I've uncovered over the past few months is anything to go by. The floorboards are original, and perhaps I should not expect too much from hundred year old timber. I've been trying to convince myself that the evidence of woodworm is historic, since there's no sign of dead bugs or fresh sawdust. But I can't deny that a lot of the floorboards are warped and split. They've obviously been up and down like a whore's drawers over the years too, with many a tongue lost and many a groove rudely ripped open. Previous generations of workmen have used a varied assortment of nails, but I opted for nice new screws, and set about the task of securing the once creaking and wobbly floor down properly before the carpet fitters come and cover everything up. There's nothing more annoying than a creaky floorboard under carpet.

Well, I say there's nothing more annoying, but plainly there is. There's having your testicles chomped by a rabid dog, for instance. I imagine that would be quite annoying. Or waking up once morning to discover that you're an MP. Being forced to go to a Madonna concert might irk some, too. But what is really, really annoying, is screwing a sharp new Jewson's speed-drive screw right through a copper central heating pipe.

A closed central heating system as new and well-commissioned as the one I fitted in this house just over eighteen months ago runs at approximately 1.5 bar pressure. That's not much in terms of hydraulic lifts and space rockets, but it's enough to spray a jet of water, liberally mixed with some horrible chemical designed to inhibit rust formation, all over the bedroom. Once it has finished going up, water likes to come down, and in this case is went down through the living room ceiling and all over the rug below. The Horse Doctor, who was watching the rugby at the time - don't ask, it's something about swarthy men playing with their odd-shaped balls - shouted in panic and alarm, and not a little confusion as she couldn't work out why it was raining indoors when the sun was shining without.

Fortunately I was able to slow and eventually stop the flow, by running down to the basement, hooking up a hosepipe to the drain plug on the lowest radiator in the system, and letting all the water (and nasty chemicals) out into one of the flowerbeds in the garden. I've enough spare fittings and pipe still lurking in the basement to re-plumb the house all over again, so at least I didn't have to make a mad dash to the DIY store in town. Just as well, really, because it's in Aberystwyth, which means it's pretty useless. I managed to clear up the mess and get the boiler working at least enough that we can have hot water, if not actual central heating. Now I'm waiting for the nice internet man to deliver some more nasty chemicals to put into the system before I repressurise it. Let's hope it arrives before the deep frosts.

I also put safeplates - metal covering plates designed specifically for the purpose - over the notches in the joists where the heating pipe runs. This is a building code regulation requirement that whoever fitted the original system had decided to ignore. I could justifiably blame him for my troubles, really - after all I hadn't lifted that particular floorboard to lay the insulation, I was just screwing it down because it was loose. But that would be a cop-out.

Why? Because I put the screw in the middle of the floorboard, away from the nasty splits and holes from previous multiple removals and refitments. Dear reader, you should never do this. For one thing, a single fixing, be it screw or nail, in the middle of a floorboard will allow it to warp. It is also far more likely that any electrical cables or copper pipes filled with pressurised water and nasty chemicals will be running in notches down the centre line of any given floorboard. Especially one that shows signs of having been lifted many times before. I saw the signs, but didn't register them. I should have known better, but I screwed the screw that burst the pipe. I am, in short, a twat.




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2 Comments:

Blogger Peter said...

Brilliant!

I haven't laughed so much since I sliced through our mains water pipe with a spade whist digging foundations for a sunroom. Twice. And at five to six at night when B&Q shut at six.

Mind you, whilst I remember laughing the kids still talk about the swearing and kicking of walls . . .

October 13, 2009 6:43 am  
Anonymous Ellen said...

Thanks for the much-needed laugh for today--the photo--not the story of your DIY woes! That hits a bit close to home. I chalk it up to the joys of home ownership!

October 13, 2009 11:58 pm  

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