Mike The Plumber

There are some things that shouldn’t happen before breakfast.

Nevertheless, on Thursday morning, I was greeted at the bottom of the stairs by a deeply troubling sight. Mike. Disappearing into the downstairs loo armed with a monkey wrench. The radiator has been leaking ever since we moved in. And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to determine the cause. Maybe it hasn’t been helped by an occasional little bump from the head of the vacuum, but over the last couple of weeks the dripping has become appreciably worse.

The following day I am awoken from a deep and restful sleep by the sudden and unceremonious ripping away of the duvet.

“Wake up, wake up, I want to turn the water off..”

Mike has decided, buoyed by his previous triumphal excursion into the world of plumbing, to replace the radiator himself. Except that in the kitchen he was fitting them to pre-positioned tails and all the pipework was new..

The sensible thing surely is to hide in my study until the crisis is past. I will be safe there, yes? No.

The tap which isolates the central heating from the water supply is in the roof space above my head. And serious furniture reorganisation is required to get at it. Ptolemy pheasant, meanwhile, has spotted the rusty water spewing forth from the end of a hose as the heating system drains down. There is much flapping around, on both sides, to prevent him from drinking it.

The old radiator comes off easily enough, but a state of high tension persists. Loud curses accompany the clonk of metal on metal as the monkey wrench slips off the nut. Long silences in between.. which are somehow even worse. At one point the ‘Plumber’s Mate’ is required to bear the entire weight of the radiator in her hands, to allow a brief sortie to the shed for more washers.

Finally, Mike disappears into the study roof space once more and the header tank begins to refill. We are about to witness A Moment Of Truth.

“You see that tap..” The beam from his torch illuminates the tap, way up beyond the hatch.


“If I yell, I want you to turn it off.. pronto.”

There’s only a small step ladder under the attic opening and I’m not very tall. Will I be able to reach it? And which way is ‘off’?

Mercifully, I didn’t need to find out.


New radiator Wm


2017-11-11T17:15:45+00:00April 13th, 2013|Tags: |


  1. Countryside Tales April 13, 2013 at 1:18 pm - Reply

    Oh ye of little faith Jessica. What a smart and impressive-looking radiator. Does a new career beckon for Mike now it’s been publicised on the blog I wonder? Ladies will be queuing up…

    • Jessica April 13, 2013 at 7:16 pm - Reply

      Maybe. In which case he will need to practice a bit more around here..

  2. Denise April 13, 2013 at 1:45 pm - Reply

    Why are animals so disgusting in their water drinking habits? Fresh, clean, only the best, is summarily rejected in favour of anything muddy, puddley and full of crud.

    Fab new radiator! Well done, that plumber man! And well done the plumber’s mate for infinite patience and forebearance!

    • Jessica April 13, 2013 at 7:19 pm - Reply

      Glad the radiator looks OK.. it is an 18 quid temporary fix until the room gets a makeover!

  3. haggiz April 13, 2013 at 1:57 pm - Reply

    Is there anything that man won’t turn his hand to? Mine has been stuck in front of the tv watching the golf masters! I’m doing something wrong here aren’t I? Any tips?! Julie x

    • Jessica April 13, 2013 at 7:29 pm - Reply

      Take on a restoration project.. 🙁
      Our problem is, we don’t relax enough, there’s a balance to be found.

  4. Simone April 13, 2013 at 2:08 pm - Reply

    A great job. Mike is indeed a plumber. You make a very good plumbers mate too. By the way, does Mike know that we chat about him on here?!!!

    • Jessica April 13, 2013 at 7:33 pm - Reply

      I do show him posts that make reference to him directly. Tis only fair!

  5. Rose H April 13, 2013 at 2:28 pm - Reply

    I’m impressed. Grand job and a lovely replacement to boot…makes you wonder why he didn’t tackle it before it got so bad?
    Rose H

    • Jessica April 13, 2013 at 7:40 pm - Reply

      This place is so creaky that sometimes it pays not to meddle until we have to. We’d intended to leave the radiator until we strip out the room and do a comprehensive job on the plumbing, but it wasn’t to be!

  6. Jacqueline April 13, 2013 at 2:34 pm - Reply

    Is there anything that your Mike can’t do Jessica ? ……… I think that you’ve got a gooden there ! XXXX
    What a difference a new radiator makes !! XXXX

    • Jessica April 13, 2013 at 7:41 pm - Reply

      He is no better at cooking than me.. great shame!

  7. domesticali April 13, 2013 at 2:35 pm - Reply

    Hooray – a plumbing triumph!

    • Jessica April 13, 2013 at 7:47 pm - Reply

      No leaks yet.. looking good!

  8. jabblog April 13, 2013 at 2:40 pm - Reply

    Plumbing emergencies never happen at opportune times – that’s why they’re called emergencies, I suppose;-)
    I’m glad it was resolved happily and without too much blue air.

    • Jessica April 13, 2013 at 7:49 pm - Reply

      And why the ’emergency plumber’ costs so much!

  9. Judith April 13, 2013 at 2:47 pm - Reply

    I’m beginning to realise just how much of a challenge you have taken on! But think of all the new skills you are learning to add to your CV under the oathsome tutleage of The Man. And what a marvellous man. Plumbing is a step too far for us, which explains why one of the radiators in our bedroom is still not working after 6 months here and through that coldest of winters…can I borrow Mike please?

  10. Judith April 13, 2013 at 2:49 pm - Reply

    Tutelage. spotted the typo too late! Curse the technology.

    • Jessica April 13, 2013 at 7:58 pm - Reply

      The cottage is easily liveable in, it’s just extremely outdated. Plumbing was a step too far for us too, until ours left us in the lurch just before Christmas with only half a kitchen.. the learning curve was steep!

  11. Jill Chandler April 13, 2013 at 4:21 pm - Reply

    Impressed, and I want him too. Our system has a leak and after a year we think we know where it is…but have no idea how to fix it…..

    • Jessica April 13, 2013 at 8:04 pm - Reply

      I hope it’s above ground. We had that problem in the previous house.. the builders came back and dug up the kitchen floor. And still didn’t find it..

  12. snowbird April 13, 2013 at 5:54 pm - Reply

    Oh my…..and here’s me thinking it was all going to end in tears, tantrums and floods…..as it did to me when hub turned plumber. Splendid job!xxxxx

    • Jessica April 13, 2013 at 8:06 pm - Reply

      Mike wasn’t looking forward to doing it.. for just that reason!

  13. the veg artist April 13, 2013 at 7:55 pm - Reply

    We have a heating system that is way too inadequate for the house – too small a boiler, extra rads added on by diferent owners over the years, pipework everywhere. There is absolutely no way we would tackle any of it ourselves. I can’t even face getting my trusty heating engineer in for a total refit. Am totally impressed by Mike!

    • Jessica April 13, 2013 at 8:09 pm - Reply

      It sounds exactly like here! It’s the cost that is putting us off the refit. When the boiler (28 years old) finally dies we will have to do something. Sticking plasters for now.

  14. Vera April 13, 2013 at 9:01 pm - Reply

    Good job! And Mike did well too! So a word of praise for you, Jessica, because as the underling to the main man myself, I know what a job it is to remain calm, patient, and smiling sweetly when big jobs, or even little jobs, are being undertaken by himself!

    • Jessica April 13, 2013 at 9:40 pm - Reply

      It’s impossible Vera..!

  15. Natalie April 13, 2013 at 9:13 pm - Reply

    Nice work, and no flooding!! Good job, Mr. Plumber!

    • Jessica April 13, 2013 at 9:45 pm - Reply

      Thanks Natalie. It was a relief..

  16. Abby April 14, 2013 at 9:33 am - Reply

    You had me on tenterhooks there! Glad it ended well. Phew! x

    • Jessica April 14, 2013 at 10:34 am - Reply

      Thanks Abby. I hate these fraught jobs!

  17. Rosie April 14, 2013 at 12:19 pm - Reply

    I always worry about those ‘I can fix it’ moments too! Anyway it looks like a job well done so full marks to the plumber – and plumber’s mate too of course:)

    • Jessica April 14, 2013 at 1:35 pm - Reply

      Plumbing and electrics.. if things go wrong, they can go wrong big style!

  18. Em April 14, 2013 at 12:59 pm - Reply

    Very impressive work form Mike there….I know what you mean about those silences though, and the hiding in your study avoidance tactics….

    • Jessica April 14, 2013 at 1:39 pm - Reply

      Thanks Em. I start off trying to keep out of the way. But the urge to go and see what’s happening is strong. Especially when it all goes quiet..

  19. steph April 14, 2013 at 7:53 pm - Reply

    OMG!! Two successes in a row…..do you know how much plumbers get an hour???? Time to hire out these skills!!!

    • Jessica April 14, 2013 at 8:07 pm - Reply

      They earn a lot here too… so a lot is what we saved!

      • Jessica April 14, 2013 at 8:10 pm - Reply

        As long as nothing goes wrong…

  20. Wendy April 15, 2013 at 8:07 am - Reply

    Glad it all ended well, especially after that heart-sinking moment when you wake up to a household problem. You’re right; these things shouldn’t happen first thing in the morning!

    • Jessica April 15, 2013 at 9:44 am - Reply

      The older I get the harder it is to get going in the morning!

  21. Anne April 15, 2013 at 10:34 am - Reply

    Impressive. A long while ago Bill took a spanner to a radiator to fix a small leak and the pipework was so old that it fell apart resulting in a large leak (or spurt to be more accurate). Luckily we had a friendly plumber who came out straight away to fix it but as he left, Bob suggested that we didn’t undertake any more plumbing repairs on a Sunday evening or even better, just called him.
    Why is it that we know perfectly well which was a tap turns off, but when faced with a slightly frenzied shout, panic ensues and my mind goes blank.

    • Jessica April 15, 2013 at 2:35 pm - Reply

      Exactly what I feared might happen, on both counts, and no friendly plumber that we’ve found yet either!

  22. Jo April 15, 2013 at 3:03 pm - Reply

    That looks so much better, what a clever husband you’ve got. Do you lend him out? I’ve got a few plumbing jobs needing doing around here. The problem is that plumbers are so blooming expensive.

    • Jessica April 15, 2013 at 6:07 pm - Reply

      They certainly are. And not always reliable, as we found to our cost.

  23. Janet/Plantaliscious April 15, 2013 at 4:37 pm - Reply

    What a relief! The only thing more scary than plumbing is electrics. I am currently putting off swapping the light fitting in the kitchen for one that might actually shed some light.

    • Jessica April 15, 2013 at 6:15 pm - Reply

      We still have rooms like that too. So much has been cobbled together here that starting what looks like a simple job on the surface can open up a real can of worms.

  24. CherryPie April 15, 2013 at 9:48 pm - Reply

    The new radiator is looking very clean and healthy!

    If someone had woken me up like that first thing in the morning I am not sure they would be looking too clean and healthy though…

    • Jessica April 15, 2013 at 11:09 pm - Reply

      They weren’t.. 🙂

  25. elizabethm April 19, 2013 at 1:34 pm - Reply

    What a star your Mike is! I have a husband who also turns his hand to anything. Mostly this is great but just occasionally it is a mixed blessing and I feel like living in a small flat entirely serviced by someone else!

    • Jessica April 19, 2013 at 7:15 pm - Reply

      I know just what you mean. I hate cleaning, and don’t do it as often as I should. Mostly because I can guarantee that as soon as I’ve put the vacuum away the power drill will be out..

  26. Annie @ knitsofacto April 19, 2013 at 9:33 pm - Reply

    Hurrah for Mike!

    I am now off to berate the Mr for his timidity when faced with a similar job here … 😉

    • Jessica April 19, 2013 at 10:06 pm - Reply

      Don’t berate him too hard Annie, it’s not an easy job. Fraught with danger of many kinds, but not least from wife..

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