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Blog : Posts tagged with 'British Gas'

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You can tell you’re British when…

In which we clear up odds and ends


… you start talking about the weather.

Some springtime might be nice. Instead, it’s been getting colder and damper and colder and damper. We’d turned the heating off to save a bit of gas; and were very reluctant to turn it back on, especially given the capricious nature of British Gas’s billing system.* It had to be done, though, otherwise the house probably would have started to sag into a mineshaft, or something along those lines. At least today things seem a bit brighter.

A web search that came in yesterday – terry williams artist bristol birch road – reminded me that I’ve been meaning to write about another recent event we attended, the Southbank Bristol Arts Trail, tramping the streets of Bedminster and Southville – in the damp, of course – visiting artists’ houses and viewing their art. As we did last year, in fact; and, like last year, we went to look at Terry Williams’ art in his home on Birch Road. His paintings aren’t the sort of artwork we’d want to buy for our own walls, but he’s clearly an accomplished artist; my favourite painting by him was a large canvas titled “Birnbeck Pier By Night”. Largely black, the spidery lines of the semi-disused pier-bridge** were marked out more by texture than by colour. I will write more about the arts trail, as soon as I go through the list of venues and can recall which one in my head matches up with which description.

* It will trundle along for a while before saying “ooh, you’re hugely in credit, we’d better cut your monthly payments.” Then, a few months later, it will change to “ooh, you’re hugely in debt, better treble your monthly payments.” You’d think they’d realise that gas usage is bound to drift up and down seasonally, and compensate for that; instead, the seasonal change in the payments seems to magnify rather than even out the changes in usage.

** It’s called a pier but I’d say it’s technically a bridge, because it goes out to an island.

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Heat

In which we’re cast back to the olden days


You probably thought, like me, that the days of people bathing in a tin bath by the fire, jugs of water heated on the kitchen range, were a thing of the past. To be honest, they probably are. It doesn’t feel like that sometimes, though.

About a month or so ago, I went to do the washing up. Ran the hot tap, waited a few minutes, then felt to see if it had warmed up. Nope. Stone cold.

I waited a bit longer. Still stone cold. Ah. The gas boiler had a flashing light on the front, where no light had flashed before, and its burners were unlit. A swift internet search led me to the boiler manual, and the meaning of said flashing light. “General fault – call our service line”. Oh dear.

Now, the boiler belongs to our landlord, who has it insured, so we don’t, at least, have to pay emergency plumbing rates, call-out fees and so on. This, as you’ll see, is a Good Thing. However, it’s the only source of heating in the house. With no electric shower, it’s the only source of showers, baths, and hot water generally aside from the kitchen kettle. Back to the days of the old tin bath, then.

The landlord called British Gas, and British Gas came to visit. And the boiler was fixed – or, at least, it was working again. But the engineer freely admitted that he had no real idea how exactly he’d cured it. He’d serviced it, given it a bit of a clean-out inside, and it had sprung back into life again. And everything was fine and warm and cosy. For two weeks.

A couple of weeks later, I suddenly realised the heating wasn’t on when it should have been. We checked the boiler, and yes, the fault lamp was there merrily flashing away again. Oops. Come back please, boiler repairman. A different engineer comes back, and proclaims that, for sure, there is nothing at all he can find that’s wrong with the boiler. It might be low pressure in the heating circuit, maybe. We check around, but can’t find any leaks anywhere. There might, he says, be a slow leak somewhere in the dark under the floorboards. If we find where it is, then British Gas will fix it for us; but they won’t go hunting for it. The boiler is working again, though, although again we’re not entirely sure why.

Roll forward to the other day, and I go to do the washing up again. Guess what? No hot water. Broken boiler. Call Landlord. Wait for British Gas. We’re getting rather used to this now.

This time, the first engineer comes back. He does the same thing as before, and gets it going again, without really knowing why it has any effect. This time it keeps working for a few hours, and then, again, stops. So now we’re left with a weekend without hot water. Boiling water from the kettle for a shower* or a shave is really getting annoying, now.

He’s coming back today, with a bevy of spare parts. Just about every spare part available, in fact, in the hope that it’s something replaceable that’s causing the problem. I’m really glad we’re not paying by the visit, given the number of unsuccessful visits we’ve had so far. But, never mind the fact that we don’t have to pay for it, we’re definitely fed up of this now.

* although it would be better described as “a pour”

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Brokenness

In which things go wrong in hard-to-diagnose ways


We go away for the weekend. We come back. And the house is cold. Turn on the hot water tap: freezing. The boiler has given up the ghost.

I turn on the PC this morning: and that refuses to come on, too. Which, to be honest, is a recurrence of a problem I was already aware of. Sometimes, on start up, it gets partway and loses contact with the disk drive. Or, sometimes, if you ask it to do too much disk-thrashing just after booting, the same thing happens. On the other hand, if it starts up all its services and is fine for 15 minutes, it will probably stay fine until it’s switched off.

All that points to something like a loose contact somewhere, if you ask me. As I say, it’s been happening for months now; but today I was in the mood to sort it. The computer now has a new hard disk cable. It booted up first time, and it’s still running. Let’s see if it still works in the morning.

The boiler might be suffering from something similar. The gas engineer came out, poked around at it, and fixed it. The chap wasn’t sure what the problem was, or how he fixed it, but fix it he did. Maybe. It’s working now, but we still have to see if that, too, will come on again come tomorrow.

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