Frugal breakdown

We must have offended the mechanical gods somehow as slowly but surely things have begun breaking down at home. First of all, last week the bathroom light refused to turn off. I’d pull and pull the cord to no avail, and then eventually it would turn off, until the inevitable happened one evening and it came away in my hand.

Then I used the electronic kitchen scales and for some inexplicable reason felt compelled to clean them by throwing them into a bowl of water in the sink. Surprise, surprise when an error message came up on it and it died a small electronic death.

“Don’t worry – we just need to dry out the batteries in it,” said the ever patient DJ, when I admitted what I’d done. But it’s been drying out for about three days and still doesn’t work, which is a bit of a pain.

So what, I hear you say. It’s annoying but trivial stuff. True, but then came the biggie on Sunday night. I was busy cooking a roast dinner after a snowy day and was nicely warmed by the heat of the oven, so it took me a while to realise that the house was gradually getting colder and colder. Perhaps I’d turned the thermostat down too far on the heating, I thought. No – all the dials were as they should be and the heating should be on. I ran around the house feeling all the radiators and found, with a shiver of dread and, well, simply the cold, that they were all stone cold. But the boiler was happily buzzing along as though everything was working as normal. Sure enough, the central heating had packed in and it was a bank holiday so any self-respecting engineer would slap on a big fat call-out charge. We decided the most frugal option was to sit it out and arrange for an engineer to come out today. I looked in the Yellow Pages and found a corgi registered guy.

Never mind, I thought. We still have the old gas fire in the lounge which we hardly ever use but kicks out a fierce heat. To add insult to injury, when we put it on the heat was strangely pathetic, suggesting there was something wrong with the overall gas supply. Instead I had to dig out the electric fan heater I bought recently which was annoying, knowing that it is probably pretty expensive heat. But we were very grateful for it yesterday I must admit. DJ was quite happy messing around in the garden to keep warm, but I threw a temper tantrum – I hate being cold and I really feel it – and demanded to be taken out to a local retail park to keep warm! We went to bed fully dressed with jumpers and socks on and shared a meagre hot water bottle between us.

When Tuesday came I was sorely embarrassed, however. Sure, forgetting to get the boiler serviced this year was a false economy, as Charlie the engineer uncovered the cobwebs in our ancient back-boiler, which lies behind our hideous c1981 fireplace. But when he asked where our gas meter was he discovered that all the clutter in our cupboard under the stairs (where I hide the recycling bags) had pushed the gas lever down so far that the supply was almost cut off! Talk about humiliating! At least DJ was at work and didn’t have to share in the embarrassment. On the plus side, we got a radiator in the spare room fixed, the boiler serviced and the pilot light fixed for a total of £75, which wasn’t too bad in the end. I’d been dreading Charlie would tell us we needed a new boiler installed.

So the moral of this story is, get your boiler serviced and don’t keep a lot of clutter in your under-stairs cupboard…

Do you get your boiler serviced or is it a waste of money? Do you do your own DIY or is it money well spent getting the professionals in? Let me know

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3 Responses to Frugal breakdown

  1. Christine says:

    Oh dear – an expensive lesson in keeping your cupboards tidy then. I bet there was stuff in there you could have disposed of when in spring cleaning mode ……You want to put in a rota for cleaning out cupboards every three months (all of them) as I have grown up doing. You\’ll save many a disaster from no gas to broken dishes, missing bills and out of date food doing that.

  2. rik says:

    Been there. Once had no heating for a week during one of the coldest weeks of the winter, not nice. We also ended up with the hideously-expensive-to-run fan heaters. The real moral is check the obvious first though! 😉

  3. Unknown says:

    Its always the same, the boiler breaks at the coldest times of the year. We live in the country too and so its been known for us to run out of oi on the odd occasionl. I now make sure i keep an eye on the levels on a regular basis and have esso deliver the oil twice a year automatically. On the breakdown side i ended up buying a policy to cover me in case of a breakdown. I had a quote off british gas who were very expensive. i found a company online who were alot cheaper. Link attahced hope it\’s useful – Peacock | Public Liability Insurance & Boiler Insurance quotes online.   

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