Saturday 1 March 2014

Saga of the Wiring

One thing about owning a flat: I no longer wake up and wonder about what I should do today. I wonder about whether I should fix the thing that needs fixing around the house today, or ignore it and do something else (there is ALWAYS something that needs fixing around the house, this seems to be a law of houses that no-one told me about).

Today it was the turn of the electrician. The back garden has a light which doesn't work, making it the world's ugliest wall ornament. I asked the landlord of the upstairs flat's housemate who is an electrician and all-around DIY genius* to have a look at it.

He came round, fitted the new light, and pressed the switch. Nothing happened. He said "Hmm."

This is not a good sound to hear from an electrician. It's almost as bad as "You'd better sit down". I have actually heard this once before from an electrician, namely the firm I hired to check the electrics prior to me buying my flat. They rang me and began the conversation with "You'd better sit down". The last time I heard an electrician say this, it was to my parents, and the entire house needed rewiring - two weeks, £2000, and hoovering plaster dust for a month afterwards. I sat down.

Electrician: "You know how electrical systems are meant to have earthing?"

Me: "Yes, I understand that's quite important."

Electrician: "Well, that one doesn't."

£700 later, the wiring in my flat was earthed.

This situation proved less expensive, but more frustrating. Landlord's DIY Genius Housemate, hereafter referred to as G, poked and prodded the lightswitch for half an hour, whilst I went through the paperwork for when I had the electrics done. We eventually found that the lightswitch is connected to the light (good), but the neutral wire is disconnected (bad). I sincerely wish I could have a conversation with whoever did the wiring for my flat before I bought it, although I fear it might begin with "Tell me, did you train the monkeys before you let them loose with the screwdrivers?"

G had to leave to fix a floor in Wallsend, so we agreed he'd come back next week with some heavy-duty electrician's gear. As he said when he left, rather plaintively, "I did not think fixing a light would be quite this complicated."

Me neither, G.

* yes, this is the same fellow who was responsible for solving the World's Least Interesting DIY Saga, when I couldn't find the stopcock for the flat. Not only could I not find it, my friend's ex-plumber husband could not find it, my parents couldn't find it, the chap who came round to fix the central heating boiler couldn't find it. Eventually, G came round, traced the pipes through the house, and the stopcock was discovered under the false bottom of the cupboard in the living room. Natch.

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