house – day 139 – reconnected

I’m feeling better today, so we definitely are going back to the house today. An uneventful drive today – it’s mid-week and the school holidays are a couple of weeks off, best enjoy it while we can. In any case, we have to be at the house as Fiona has booked a chimney sweep to clear the two chimneys we have left in the house, before we get the living room decorated next week. I was going to do it myself and had bought a new chimney brush for the rods, but Fiona thinks I’ll take too long to do it and make too much mess. She may be right. Anyway the sweep is booked now, so that’s that.

I’d remembered to bring a decent camera with me today so I photographed the blinds properly, to get back to the supplier and see what can be done about them. Fiona is still painting the back bedroom, I think she’s doing the woodwork today. I got on with painting a second coat of paint on the bathroom walls.

Around about the time I was expecting the chimney sweep, a man walked up to the house, it turned out he was a BT engineer. I’d told BT the problem I’d reported over a week ago, wasn’t fixed (even though the fault had been closed) and they’d opened a new fault, they didn’t tell us to expect a visit though. I showed him around, pointing out the indoor junction box that looks almost contemporary with the house – definitely pre-WWII (he’d never seen one like it before) and he set to work. The junction box is at the foot of the stairs, so whilst the engineer was working, I couldn’t get on with anything upstairs, so I got on with measuring the position of some items in the garden. We’ll need to do some landscaping when we move in and I need to plan and budget.

The chimney sweep showed up and I showed him the two fireplaces. I told him the back one should be OK as it had only had a gas fire (which I’d just removed). Whilst we were talking about this fireplace, I remarked I was going to take the clay fireback out as it is cracked. He said to leave it, it had years of life left in it. Great, one less problem to deal with. The front fireplace had been burning logs, so I expected a mess. In a short time, he’d cleaned the chimneys, removing a couple of large buckets and a vacuum cleaner full of soot and leaving the rooms and fireplaces spotlessly clean. We paid the bill and he gave us a certificate. It’s the first time I’d ever seen one, but apparently some insurers won’t pay up if you have a chimney fire and you don’t have a chimney sweep’s certificate. That alone was worth the money. He also said that he’d cleaned out equal amounts of soot from both chimneys. The gas fire had been installed without sweeping the chimneys first! No wonder you frequently hear stories of people dying of carbon monoxide poisoning. A fall of soot and the flue is blocked, it’s a potentially lethal false economy.

The BT engineer was still tracing the line fault when the chimney sweep left. Eventually, he found a break in an outside cable which he replaced with new cable and a new junction box in the house. To do this, he drilled the wall to thread the cable, which means that the window is finally clear of cables threaded through it. I asked him about moving the existing BT master socket. He said I should ask a suitably competent person or even BT to do it. I was hoping he’d do it whilst he was here. As far as I’m concerned, the fact that it was incorrectly installed – it’s positioned after the old British Telecom master socket and it should be at the first point in the line – is an installation fault. He left and I thought I’d do it myself. It’s only a matter of reconnecting a couple of wires.

I had a quick go at getting the hearth tiles up, but they’re pretty well fixed. I’ll use the SDS-Max hammer drill and tile chisel on them soon. Instead, I got on with sanding woodwork in the bathroom ready for final coats of paint. Fiona meanwhile was still painting upstairs.

We left reasonably satisfied with the days accomplishments, especially with the news we don’t have to do any more demolition work in the study fireplace.

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