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Wednesday, 30 April 2014

30 April 2014

Today's garden views:

Secondary leaves!

Lilac?  Smells like it!


Unidentified plant...

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Heating/Hot Water Woes

I've been a little quiet on the topic of heating and hot water.  I wish this was because everything had been working perfectly and there was nothing to say, but unfortunately that's not the case!

The last time I updated you was Wednesday 16 April when Graham commissioned the boiler, but the electrician hadn't wired the hot water cylinder stat to the boiler, so he was coming back on Friday to fix that.

Well, he did indeed come back and wire the stat to the boiler and we switched the immersion off and the hot water on... and the radiators got hot.  Something was definitely wrong.  I still don't really know the specifics of what was wrong, but both the hot water and heating buttons on the programmer caused the heating to come on.

At this point we decided to cut our losses and get a different electrician in.  The first guy had no experience wiring heating systems so it was clearly out of his comfort zone, so Graham recommended a friend of his who he had worked with loads of times.

We reverted back to immersion-heated water again and were grateful that at least the heating was working...

Rich (electrician #2) was scheduled to come on Friday 25 April.  All good.

On Thursday 24th I had my shower in the morning and noticed the water was a bit...well...tepid.  I checked the hot water cylinder and found that Ian had turned off the immersion (I think to see how long the water would stay hot).  To ensure he would get a hot shower, I flipped the immersion switch back on, and thought nothing more of it.

In the evening, after dinner, we went to wash up... and there was no hot water.  Strange, since the immersion had been on all day.  We went to check it out and the switch was on, but the red LED was off.  We went to flip the switch back off, and it wouldn't.  It was jammed in the "on" position but there was clearly no electricity coming through it.  We switched the circuit off and took the faceplate off, hoping to see the reason it was jammed.  We couldn't see anything but it was clearly buggered.  With no hot water from the boiler and no immersion, we had no hot water provision beyond a kettle ;)

We went to bed very late, sick and tired of the problems and contemplating the virtues of cold showers at home vs hot showers at work for the morning.

We both opted for the cold shower (to be fair it was more tepid than cold but still not my favourite morning experience), I headed to work and Rich (electrician #2) came round to sort out the wiring mess.

I heard from Ian around 9:30 that Rich had sorted out the mis-wired valves and he had also discovered there was still a wire missing from it all - there should be both a permanent live and a switched live running to the boiler, so that when the programmer/stat tells the boiler to stop firing, the pumps can continue to run.  Electrician #1 had only run a switched live, so every time the boiler stops firing, the entire thing shuts down (like turning your computer off at the wall) and every time it receives the instruction to fire again, it runs through its startup test cycle before it can do anything else.

He didn't have time to run the permanent live so will come back another time to fix that.  It shouldn't do the boiler any harm in the short term.

He also replaced the immersion switch, which had melted inside and fused solid.  Erk.  Apparently it could either have been a loose connection, or simply that the switch was old and knackered.

So!  Hurrah!  Rejoicing!  We had both hot water AND heating!  All sorted, yes?


Of course not.

On Friday evening we got home and the house was cold.  We had no heating.

Still, at least it's April now and not too chilly, around 17 degrees first thing in the morning.  Back out with the electric radiator and fan heater.

Rich came back on Saturday morning and found a loose connection inside the junction box - his fault!  Whoops!  At least that meant all it needed was tweaking and - finally - we have both hot water and heating (plus immersion) working at the same time.

I'm hopeful that is the end of this saga...

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Wednesday 23 April

Last night I finished stripping the wallpaper from Bedroom 4 which will be the study.

Actually that's a tiny lie, I need to take the plug socket faceplates off the wall to remove the bits underneath them, and stanley-knife around the window frames, and the little tiny bits behind where the curtain pole was attached to the wall cos I only took that down today.  Bah.

But let's pretend I've finished that room!

Paper came off ok here, just various patches of flaky/peeling paint to sand and fill and sand again...

Ian contacted a couple of plasterers today to get quotes for skimming the upstairs ceilings.  All the vents will have to be blocked off and skimmed so we may as well get all the artex covered up whilst they're at it!


A little view of one of the bigger flaky patches, plus the rawlplug and scrap of paper from behind the curtain pole fixing.

Aaaaand a little seedling update whilst I'm updating!

I think I'm going to need to pot up the bean and courgette plants soon!  Hand for scale, haha:

The beans are quite interesting because I have three varieties here - "Blue Lake" which was a new purchase this year, some beans left over from the load I bought last year, and some that I saved from my harvest in 2012.  Blue Lake have mostly come up whereas I have 3 from 2012 and 2 from 2013, not great!  I may abandon those ones as I'm not convinced they'll be any good.

Broccoli and tomatoes (bit disappointed by the tomatoes so far but I will just buy plants if needed):

The epic Passionflower that is growing inside the "sunroom".  We are going to pull the sunroom down in due course so this may well get killed in the process which is a bit sad.  The roots are outside but the plant is largely inside and I think it will get broken when we try to pull it back through the ventilation slats (which is what it's grown through).

Saturday, 19 April 2014

32 hours in a seedling's life...

So just to remind you, this is how my trays of seedlings were doing on Friday lunchtime:

We then went away for the night and returned this evening, 32 hours later, to these amazing beasts!

The green beans have grown spectacularly!  The PSB hasn't changed much, but there are also two courgette plants emerging and one tomato :D


Friday, 18 April 2014

Good Friday Gardening

So this is how I left the garden on Wednesday... see those big spiky plants just behind the washing line whirligig?  Those are Phormium Tenax apparently, and I hate them.  I just don't understand spiky plants.  They're vicious! 

We sawed them off low down first of all and then the two of us got stuck in to digging the root mass out.  It was HUGE and took us ages.  Here it is once we'd cut it in half (couldn't lift it whole):

Removing roots:

Now we just have to get rid of them...

Lovely big space, I plan to plant my new rose here once it arrives - David Austin Charlotte - a present from my sister for my birthday: http://www.davidaustinroses.com/english/showrose.asp?showr=3111

Unfortunately something is up with our pear tree.  From googling it looks like it is Pear Blister Mite - http://apps.rhs.org.uk/advicesearch/profile.aspx?pid=661 - and apparently just looks ugly but doesn't affect the plant's ability to make fruit.

View from the back of the garden:

First of the French Beans coming through:

PSB doing OK:

View from master bedroom:

View from bedroom 4:

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Wednesday 16 April - Heating!

Whilst I was toiling in the garden, Graham was commissioning the boiler! Actually he came outside at one point to find me lazing on the bench in the sunshine, so I can't really claim to have been toiling non-stop...

He's disconnected the gas fire and switched the gas over to fuel the boiler.  I can't actually explain how exciting it is to have radiators giving off heat!

There are two more rads to hang once the walls they're on have been patched (kitchen and dining room, opposite sides of the same wall).  The dining room wall has a hole from a heating vent and the kitchen wall has LOADS of holes from the hot air system.

The only other thing is that it looks like the wiring instructions didn't include the instruction to connect the hot water cylinder thermostat to the boiler - so the boiler will heat the water up...and up... and up... and won't click off.  So we're back on immersion heated water until Friday when the electrician comes back.

I don't have many photos to show you since you've already seen the radiators etc, but there's lots more pipes in the airing cupboard since I last posted, so here's how it looked last Tuesday (8 April):

And today:

Control panel (because the boiler is in the loft, we needed a remote programmer):

Radio thermostat - we need to have a think about where to put it, it will possibly go upstairs since upstairs seems warmer than downstairs at the moment, but then again we're missing two downstairs rads so that might change.  We can walk around with it for now.  In time we might get a Nest thermostat or similar, which can be controlled by smartphone app and "learns" how to best heat your house: https://nest.com/uk/