Tuesday, December 11, 2007

It's a Gas, Gas, Gas

Our boiler is covered under a maintenance plan with British Gas. We have never needed to call them out, so I was a bit miffed when they jacked up their price by 39%. I had a look around and found that I could save us £30 a year by switching to Coverheat. (Don't worry that I have sold out and am now plugging companies on my blog. Rest assured that no one comes out of this well, including myself.)

The Coverheat man came out on Friday and serviced our boiler, which was working perfectly well (heating the flat, giving us hot water - the only two things that I really ask of it), then told us that the spark electrode was cracked and wouldn't go back properly. This meant that the boiler was now no longer working as he couldn't even try to refit it (Corgi regulations, possibility of dying etc). I was somewhat bemused that a boiler repairman had taken a working boiler and turned it into a non-working boiler. The only explanation that I could find was that the space-time continuum had been reversed and that we can soon expect the re-election of Tony Blair, withdrawal from Iraq and global cooling (so it might be quite nice to have a boiler that worked).

He could fix it though. Yes, he could fix it. But because we were not yet covered under Coverheat as the boiler had not passed its initial inspection, it would cost us about a billion pounds. Aha, but I had been SO CLEVER as I had not cancelled the British Gas contract yet. The only problem was that when you are covered under one of these contracts, you are NOT SUPPOSED TO LET ANYONE ELSE TOUCH THE BOILER, particularly someone from another company who might break it. So, I made him put it back together in such a way that although it wouldn't work any more it wouldn't be obvious that someone else had just serviced it. British Gas would come on Monday, and we were going away for the weekend, so we wouldn't be cold for too long.

On Monday, the British Gas man came and removed the boiler cover. "Has it been serviced recently?" he asked.

"Um, fairly recently", I didn't quite lie.

He poked around for a bit, then said, "Yep, it's the gas valve. I can't do it now, but I can come back and fit it tomorrow."

But it wasn't the gas valve, was it? It was the spark electrode. I knew that, the Coverheat man knew that, if only the British Gas man knew that. What would probably now happen was he'd come back on Tuesday, fit a new gas valve, then realise it was the spark electrode after all and we'd have to wait yet another day in the cold. But how could I tell him that it was the spark electrode without letting on that someone else had serviced the boiler?

"Um, are you sure?"

"Yeah - those symptoms, it's always the gas valve."

"Really? It couldn't be anything else?"

"Nah. I do one of these a week."

"It kind of sounds to me like, I dunno, something isn't sparking? You know? Not that I know anything about boilers, or anyone who does, but from the noises it makes it sort of sounds like the gas is coming in, and then something should spark to light it, some kind of, I dunno, electrode? And that isn't happening."

"I'll see you tomorrow when I come back with the gas valve."

Today he came back and fitted the new gas valve. Obviously, the boiler then still didn't work. He was very apologetic. He should have checked the spark electrode as well, but in seven years he'd only seen one faulty one. He's coming back tomorrow with a new one.

We are currently warming ourselves on the heated towel rail. Maybe I could spend that £30 on an extra jumper.