Sunday, January 31, 2016


While the plumber (I can do some basic plumbing if absolutely necessary but I absolutely HATE doing it) installed the new copper water pipes in the kitchen the sparks could set to work in the hall - no point in rewiring the kitchen and keeping the old crap in the hall. My parents had an electrician check the wiring back in 1991 but the results were dodgy at best - they left some of the ancient cloth-covered wiring in place, worst of all the section right above the fuse board that fed everything but the washing machine and dishwasher sockets! The 2-way circuit for the ceiling light was left in place too - wired with what looks like 0.5 mm2 doorbell wire! 10 A MCB too, thanks heaven the wires only fed the light!

Wait, there's more of these wires, feeding a socket and on a 16 A MCB... never mind. (We've been aware of this fire trap for a long time and simply abandoned this socket so there's no risk).

In the hall there's a HUGE cupboard, I think some 2.5 m wide and all the way up to the ceiling. The lower part alone is almost as tall as it's wide and was probably built in the 30s. Must've looked grand when it was solid oak with panelled doors! Now the doors are covered with particle board and everything is painted green *blargh*
The upper section is MUCH newer, probably 1983 judging by the scribbles we found. Anyway, the wiring runs behind this monster, so we had to take the top off. Doing that took three of us, two ladders and a lot of balancing and cursing. Behind and above it we found a nasty surprise - the cool vintage wallpaper was hanging in tattered rags and there was serious water damage! When I saw that I immediately remembered a mystery flood over 15 years ago. For some reason I went into the cellar and found water RUNNING our of the walls! I immediately checked the ground floor and couldn't find more than a slightly damp spot but it was clear the water had to be from the 1st floor or even higher up. We asked our neighbour on the 1st floor but she swore she hadn't done anything. Since we didn't see any damage we thought the water must've run through some mystery channels in the brick walls and ignored the issue. Now we know that the water must've run down the wall behind the cupboard too.

The ceiling plaster was so badly damaged that we had to remove a section to check whether the joists and floor boards had suffered any serious damage but thankfully nothing there! As you can see there's one layer you don't usually find in UK or US ceilings and that's the reeds. They provide additional keying and that works quite well - unless the wires rust through such a ceiling simply can't collapse. Thankfully I found a roll of plasterer's reed mats in the attic so I could patch a little and then replaster.

When the sparks were done the plastering took me forever, even though one of my brothers helped some. In fact this dragged on well into 2016! The walls looked like Swiss cheese for a while so I guess you can imagine why it took us a while to get them closed up again. This picture also shows some of the dodgy old wiring partly removed.

We then had loads of trouble with the chimney sweep who insisted on some of the plumber's work being re-done and tile work took much longer than we'd expected but that's for another post.