I have always been aware of my own stupidity but I also know that I am not the only stupid person living in Britain so I take some comfort there. I found out yesterday that my intelligence was sorely tried by my central heating boiler, a Glowworm Micron machine which has, so far given no trouble at all.
Then, just as some gentle flakes of snow descended, an alarm began to sound. Help, I thought, in as relaxed a way as I know. Gas central heating and alarms focused my mind into action. It would be sad if this street blow up on such a pleasant quiet weekend.
I went up to inspect the boiler but could see nothing wrong. The heating was fine and so was the hot water and I could see no other sign of trouble.
I looked up Glowworm Micron boilers on the internet and could find no reference to its alarm system so I finally decided that I should ring a plumber even though it was a Sunday afternoon.
I looked up local Lewes plumbers on-line and the first name to come up was Able Plumbers (telephone 0800 0822947) because its web page told me it would come out 24/7 and that there was no call out charge. I rang them and spoke to a woman who passed on my problem details to a man standing out of range of the phone. I told her I was worried in case the alarm meant that there was a gas danger in the house. She told me that she could send out an engineer tomorrow. I said I was worried about waiting that long. She said there was nothing she could do about that. I asked her to ask the man that she was talking to for advice. She said that there was nothing she could do. I asked her if she could pass me on to a number to ring in a crisis. She said she couldn’t give out phone numbers. I asked her what I should do if it was an emergency. She said I could try another plumber. I asked her if she had any advice as I was worried about that alarm. She said she was sorry but she couldn’t help. Realizing that nothing would penetrate her bored and sullen manner, I rang off.
I tried another number – one that also said it could supply a plumber in an emergency in the Lewes area. I rang Reactfast Plumbers (telephone number 0800 121 8452) because the name felt right in the circumstances and I spoke to a lively and bright sounding man with a heavy Indian accent. I told him my problem and my anxiety about the alarm that kept going off. He then read out, you could tell by his manner, a long list of terms and conditions which lasted for over a minute until I interrupted him saying I was worried in case I needed to act quickly. Sounding just as cheerful, as if I was asking him for dinner, the young man, said that he had to read out the conditions first and ask me if, in the future, I would like to be contacted for other services too. I said I wanted to know what the problem might be as I was very worried about the alarm. The young man then read off another list of conditions and said that he could send someone round and it would cost £190. I rang off.
Really worried and frustrated now, I did the old fashioned thing and looked up a local plumber in the telephone book and found Lewes Heating and Plumbing (Telephone 01273 473537) and spoke to the man himself, Tom Sallis, who was in fact busy on another job. He listened to my problem, no bored tone and no encyclopedia-sales techniques, then he told me that Glowworm Micron boilers don’t have alarms and then asked me if was I sure that it wasn’t a carbon monoxide alarm situated near the boiler. I, idiot that I am, didn’t know if I owned one but I went to look and, yep, there it was. Back on the phone, Tom Sallis, confirmed, what I think, both the other plumbers could have done, that my carbon monoxide detector’s batteries had run out and I would need to replace the device.
I have ordered a new one because, for safety reasons, the batteries cannot be changed at home.
So thanks to Tom Sallis for his calm, patient and accurate response.
If you ever have a gas boiler crisis, and if you are nearly as stupid as I am, then I suggest that you do not contact Able Plumbers or Reactfast Plumbers because, if it had been an emergency, then, to their shame, they would have taken no steps to avert a disaster.
In the end though, I know, I was just being stupid. Phew.