When you sit on your own all day in a quiet house – no kids, no TV, no radio – it’s surprising how much noise a house makes. But one day, my house seemed to be making a bit more than usual. We’re a detached house, so it wasn’t the neighbours. It sounded like something was moving around upstairs. I kept looking outside to see if there were any roadworks. Eventually I saw a window cleaner at my neighbour’s house. Maybe it had been the ladder knocking the windows? My neighbour’s house is big, but had he really been there all day?
The next day, the noises got worse. Then I heard them in the night. My husband panicked and jumped out of bed because he hadn’t heard them before. You don’t always hear them when the kids are home and the TV is on.
By day three, the noises were pretty much constant. And we realised it was the boiler.
So we turned it off.
It was the end of September and we’d only had the heating on for a couple of hours. We realised we’d got an immersion heater for the water, so it wasn’t too bad.
My husband arranged for a £90 service of the boiler. Yes, we are the stupid people that never get our boiler serviced. The previous home owners had got it done, but we’ve been here nearly five years ago and never had have.
My husband wasn’t here when the heating engineer came round. I’m a bit thick with that sort of stuff, so when he told me he’d replaced a faulty value and it cost £260, I was fine with that. My husband was a bit cross that it hadn’t cost the £90 he’d been expecting. But the boiler was working.
Apart from the days when we got up and the heating hadn’t actually come on.
So we had to switch it off and on again. And then it started making noises again.
I started getting frightened of the boiler, thinking it would explode and kill us all. It’s in the garage, but is very close to both our bedroom and my eldest’s. We started turning the boiler off every time we went out. But should we even have it on when we were at home? That’s no way to live.
By this point it was November and we really needed the boiler.
So we arranged for the heating engineer to come round again.
He hadn’t been here many minutes when he broke the news to me. It was giving off dangerous amounts of carbon monoxide – it should be around 10 parts per million and ours was giving off over 5000!
I just couldn’t believe it. The boiler could have killed us, although the emissions did go out of the garage through a flue. I was worrying about it exploding, but all the time it was giving off dangerous emissions.
You hear about these things happening in rental properties where the landlords don’t care about their tenants. You hear about them happening in shoddy little holiday resorts abroad. You don’t expect it to happen in your own home, even if you are a bit stupid and don’t get your boiler serviced regularly.
For some reason, when the engineer came round the first time, he hadn’t serviced the boiler (and therefore hadn’t checked the carbon monoxide), even though that’s what he was supposed to do. He’d got sidetracked by the dodgy valve. Replacing the valve seemed rather pointless now the whole boiler was condemnded.
The engineer disconnected it from the gas and gave me some paperwork to confirm the findings and that it was no longer safe for us to use. I don’t mind telling you that it left me feeling rather shaken.
And the cost of a replacement? £2,500 + VAT, which is £3,000 in total.
My husband looked around to see if he could get a better price and managed to get someone to do it for £500 less. Even so, it’s a lot of money, but you can’t put a price on safety (or warmth).
We did have to wait and extra five extra days for the cheaper job. Thank goodness for the unseasonably mild November weather.
It felt like the longest nine days of my life. We borrowed some electric heaters, so could warm up parts of the house, but we were either warm or cold. The immersion doesn’t do a great job of warming up the water, so it would be going cold on the days I washed my hair and we had to make sure to leave a long time after someone else had had a shower. And the worst thing? Damp towels! The towels were permanently wet and it’s not a whole lot of fun trying to dry yourself in the cold with a wet towel.
We now have a lovely new boiler. The house is warm, the water is warm and the towels are dry. And we will definitely be getting our new boiler serviced regularly.