Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Plumbers on our roof

When we moved to our house, a little over three years ago, we noticed that there was a very slow d-r-i-p.... d-r-i-p.... onto the balcony outside our bedroom. It didn't seem like a big deal. Perhaps some pipe, we thought, with a very slow leak. Or just an interesting feature of our new home.

As the months went by, it seemed that the drip got faster. It made little puddles on the balcony during the winter, although they usually evaporated during the day.

And then it started to become worse. It made sufficient of a puddle that the overflow pipe from the balcony started dripping water down onto the paving below. I was convinced one of our water tanks was leaking. Richard went up and looked two or three times, with various people who understand water tanks and plumbing better than he did. They agreed that something was leaking, and that we would probably need a new water tank.

A year ago, when we were in the UK, our house-sitter placed an empty dustbin underneath the overflow from the balcony. It was getting so bad that, even in the middle of a Cyprus summer (when temperatures in the shade are at least 32C) it was still dripping constantly through the overflow and down to the ground.

Then I realised that when we had guests staying in the downstairs flat, the dripping was not so excessive. Indeed, if we had people who were using the washing machine, and having a lot of showers, the only time the drip reached the dustbin was when the mains water was on (every other day) filling the tank up as fast as it was used. Evidently it was the guest flat tank that was leaking.

Every so often, we looked at each other, and said we must do something about it. But it wasn't until a couple of months ago, when the drip became a constant flow of water, and one of our neighbours commented, that Richard actually got in touch with a plumber - someone he had used at the office.

He came and looked. Yes, we needed a new water tank. But the design of the old one wasn't made any more, so it would have to be ordered. And they'd have to do some welding, since the design of the old metalwork wouldn't fit the new tank, and was a bad design anyway, contributing to the hole that had developed, half-way up the guest flat tank.

Richard asked about the pump downstairs, too, which had a slow leak. And also asked whether it would be possible to have a switch so that the solar panels could be used to heat only our hot water when we don't have guests staying in the winter. And the plumber noticed a problem with our compression tank.

Evidently it was going to be an expensive job... or series of jobs, as there were so many things to do. But it had to be done, since our water bills for the guest flat were increasing rapidly, and we're not supposed to waste water. We could hardly criticise our neighbours for hosing their cars and patios if we were losing half a tank of water every other day from a leaky tank.

So the plumbers came, and went, and came again... they know their way through our bedroom to the balcony, and gradually the various jobs were done. For the first ten days, they arranged for our water tank to feed both parts of the house, while the guest tank was mostly emptied. That stopped the leaking, but also meant that we ran out of water a couple of times, when we had guests staying. Not a huge deal as it ran out on days when the mains was on, slowly filling it up again. But mildly annoying.

Then they came with a new tank, which they got on the roof and attached. They fixed the compression tank. A welder made the necessary constructions. I just stayed in my study while all this went on around me, and the cats joined me. Some days, water poured away, totally wasted. Our bills are not going to be lower next time, although we hope they might be eventually. And with the solar panels giving us more heat in the winter (when nobody is staying downstairs) we shouldn't need so much electricity to heat water for showers.

Here's the setup, with the new water tank for the guest flat:

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Today they came again to fix another minor leak they discovered, and to do something else to the pump. There's still one minor thing to do, apparently, but they need another small part... and in the middle of August, most plumbing suppliers (along with many businesses, and non-food shops) are closed for a couple of weeks.

But we no longer have continual dripping. The balcony is no longer damp. And the water pressure in our upstairs bathroom is incredible!


Suzanne said...

Hope it didn't cost 'an arm and a leg'.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Gosh, what a time you've had with this problem! I think you did the right thing shutting yourself in the study with the cats! Let's hope the water bills steadily reduce.

Steve Hayes said...

I know the feeling. These plumbing things can be horribly disruptive.

We are saving up for solar heating, so we can put the geyser outside. In the mean time, we've had leaks in a cupboard, so I have books and papers and photos and stuff all over the floor in my study and down the passage from the last time it leaked into the cupboard. We paid plumbers to install a drip tray, but sometimes the drips miss the tray and it drips into the cupboard instead.

Geotacs said...


good to know that the leaks have been fixed with no mor irriatating dripping and wetting of the floor!

expensive job but probablw well worth it!