For Want Of A U-Bend..


The new glass door from the bedroom.

For want of that short length of plastic pipe the bathroom remains but a tantalising glimpse. Even though we are part of Europe, for the next couple of weeks at least, it seems it is still unrealistic to expect a plumber in deepest darkest Devon to rummage through the back of his van and extract a pipe suitable for fixing to an Italian sink. It’s a special pipe apparently. Space saving. Hugging the wall behind the vanity unit to allow for extra drawer space. Nor is such a thing readily available via the internet. Believe me, we tried. Nope. Special order. From the sink manufacturer. It’s been a month so far..

Indeed, next weekend we might as well get the champagne out if only to drown our sorrows. For by then it will be eight months since the project commenced. The longest bathroom refurbishment ever?



The new tap gleams and awaits its first use but the bathroom stopcock remains firmly off. A prudent measure given that someone (mentioning no names) might inadvertently knock the tap and set water in motion whence it would likely flow straight through the sink, fill the drawer of the vanity unit and then spread out across the bathroom floor. No waste pipe you see. Nothing to channel the water safely into the main drain.

But it could have been worse. Much, much worse.

A couple of weeks ago the sparky arrived to fix up the last of the electrics, including the bathroom heating supplied by cables laid under the floor. “It will take a while to warm up” said he, as his parting shot. And so for a couple of hours we thought no more of it. Until I placed a tentative toe upon the floor and found it to be cold. Somewhat bizarre as the sensor display on the control box, originally set at 25C, was now showing a toasty 39.4C. At that temperature surely the floor wouldn’t be merely warm, smoke should be seen arising. Socks on fire.

A wiring fault? The manufacturer’s technical person was less than reassuring when Mike rang him up. There is an element of ‘well he would say that wouldn’t he’ but in the technician’s mind the underfloor heating had been improperly installed. The floor sensor had been placed too close to the heating cables, hence the high reading. Well I couldn’t get my head around the logic of this. If the cables were pumping out such stonking great heat how come the floor was still cold? And if, as suggested, the heat in the cables had prompted a cut out then how come the temperature reading on the control panel never came down?



It was a week before the electricians could return to have a look at it, in which time we had explored each of the worst case scenarios enduring more than a few sleepless nights along the way. At the very worst, the newly tiled bathroom floor would have to come up. How else to get at, and then reposition, the troublesome sensors?

Mike had a Plan B. A backstop if you will. Although for fear of losing my entire British readership I shall go no further down there. Not that Mike’s plan was any less problematic. His idea was to take down part of his study partition wall, gain access to the back of the bathroom wall tiles and insert, through a hole created underneath the vanity unit, a room thermostat which would then bypass the underfloor sensors altogether.

As it turned out we didn’t need either plan. A swapping around of a couple of wires in the control box and the problem appears to be solved. Phew. But you just don’t need it, do you?



The bathroom, July 2018



The bathroom today



The bathroom, July 2018



The bathroom today, looking unrealistically pristine.

All it needs now is a U-bend..