The Plumber’s.. Back

Gratuitous acer. More aesthetically appealing than watching our plaster dry?


Things are moving on. The latest rotten pipe has been fixed and the stud wall rebuilt. They’ve taken a jackhammer to the concrete slab, ready for pipework to the new centre island and to the repositioned radiators.

The kitchen extension is, probably, a 1960s creation and not particularly well insulated. It falls on the Project Manager, that’ll be me then, to decide how big the radiators will need to be. I’ve found a neat little widget that works out the number of BTUs required, used the worst of all possible worst case scenarios and then added a bit. Well, quite a lot actually. Radiators ordered, huge sigh of relief and coffee all round. Except… I do tend to feel the cold. Back on the phone, I up one of the radiators by 25% bigger again.


Mike’s Plumber is not a happy man. He has seen the radiator brochure. And, specifically, the installation instructions I thoughtfully printed off for him from the manufacturer’s internet site. “But the pipes come out of the wall..”

So far so good. “They’re a contemporary design, minimalist. And besides, it’s so much easier to hoover when there are no pipes cluttering up the floor.”

“I’ve never liked those.”

“I have actually ordered them…”

“They’re very difficult to fit you know. So little tolerance on the spacing of the tails..” He is getting into his stride now.. “And these instructions are just not clear at all. I suppose the radiators are foreign..?”

I find him the number of the British manufacturer’s helpline and suggest that we give them a call.

“Oh, they won’t talk to me..”

Considering how little I know about radiators, the man on the helpline couldn’t have been more polite. After five minutes in mutual commiseration on the state of the weather, I hand him over to Mike’s Plumber. It’s not an argument exactly. But the side of the conversation I hear inspires little confidence at all. Mike’s Plumber hangs up the phone. “I’m not sure I’m any the wiser..”

“Perhaps we should just do as the manufacturer suggests?”

“It won’t work….”

I give up.