Jumping Jack Flash

Posted by @ 1:48 am on Wednesday 16th December, 2009.
Categories: A bit of a rant

Sometimes you get a feeling right at the start that a job's going to go tits-up...


It all started with the letter from M1 Gas Alliance. Dated 03/12/2009, it told of the impending gas supply interruption due to the improvement of the gas main on the estate. "We plan to start work between 07/12/2009 and 11/12/2009", it said. Maybe it would have been better to deliver said letter a tad earlier than 10/12/2009 then.

Since then road-crew have dug holes all around the Close and have festooned the place with miles of plastic fencing. They've worked fast and with due consideration for the residents. No problem there.

Yesterday (Tuesday) was the day when they would shove their little yellow pipe through the old steelie that stretches from the road, under the garden, under the footings and into our meter. We were told at 08:30 that this would happen and that someone would have to be in to allow access, and sure enough the little yellow pipe did make it into the house... at about 16:30. So that's only eight hours of me sat around doing sweet Fanny Adams.

That phase ended with the capping of the incoming pipe, the complete removal of the meter and the assurance that a qualified gas fitter would arrive within the hour to reconnect the meter and the supply, to test the system and to restart our appliances. Now that sounded like a good plan. As the ground crew departed for the pub, two fitters arrived and worked their way around the Close.

17:30 arrived sans fitter. I went outside for a quick scan and noted that one fitter was three houses away. I figured that he was busy so I didn't trouble him.

18:30 arrived sans fitter. I went outside for another quick scan and noted that he was one house away. We would be next.

19:30 arrived sans fitter. I went outside for a yet another quick scan and noted that he and his mate were nowhere to be seen. They must be having trouble somewhere, I assumed. They were still about, though, as their van was still parked next to our house.

20:30 arrived sans fitter. I went outside for a yet another quick scan only to be told by a neighbour that the fitters had both finished and gone off in a different van... just after 18:30.



20:50 was when I had calmed down enough to restrict the language to no worse than a string of fecks liberally peppered with ba5tards and a few tw@ts. During this slack period I phoned the number printed in two places on the letter. 01162 574540. Imagine my glee when I found that I'd just phoned Direct Line Insurance. Undeterred, I dialled again and got the same message.


I found out later that when they'd shut their office yesterday, the last one out had set the phone to redirect to the wrong number. Doh!


21:00 was when I called the emergency number. The kind folk there gave me a sensible number for National Grid, so I dialled that and told them of the situation. They arranged for a fitter to attend within the next four hours.

22:00ish and the fitter arrived. He fitted the meter and eventually turned on the gas supply. All of the appliances worked fine so I thanked him and let him go. We put the fire and the central heating on to warm the house, and sat back, relieved that it was all fixed.

23:00ish - that's when I started to smell gas. The meter cupboard stank of it.



I called National Grid again and they promised me a fitter within the hour, as this time the situation was classed as an emergency. He turned up at 23:45, it was the same bloke that had fitted the meter. At first he couldn't detect the leak, but we could both smell it. After repiping and then remounting the meter he found the leak, some way along the downstream pipework, in his opinion caused during the initial removal of the meter and hence the responsibility of the road-crew. He had no choice but to turn off the supply, cap the meter and place a warning on it which effectively says "If you use this you'll all burn in hell".


So now it's 01:45 (Wednesday) and we've no gas/heating/hot water. Again.

At 08:00 this morning the road-crew will be back to disconnect our spur from the old main and to connect it to the new one.

I really don't fancy the chances of the first one of them to knock on my door.

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20 Responses to “Jumping Jack Flash”

  1. Alistair says:

    you tell it so well too - hope you get it fixed Stef

  2. BG! says:

    There have been developments...

    The fitter that was, in theory, supposed to do the connection last night has told me that the road-crew didn't put us on the list for reconnection, so he was none-the-wiser when he upped-sticks and went to the pub. Typically, ours was the only house to be missed out...

    The fitter says that the road-crew are responsible for any damage to the downstream pipework...

    The road-crew say that the call-out fitter did the damage but that I'm responsible for that pipe-work...

    I'm saying that they are a team, that they should stop the in-fighting and all work to get the situation resolved - as the customer, we pay their wages.

    The fitter says he'll be back later...

  3. alan.sloman says:

    Nice story - still - you have lots of down clothing and a few stoves as well...

    You have to let us know what happens next!

  4. BG! says:

    Originally Posted By alan.sloman
    Nice story - still - you have ... a few stoves as well...

    If only I could use them... we've been told "no naked flames" 😥

    If they don't fix it soon I'll torch their van - that should keep us warm enough 😈

  5. Alistair says:

    which van? The one they came in or the one they left in? 😯

  6. Peewiglet says:

    Nightmare 😯

    I hope they're sorting it out now. And speaking of central heating...

    *goes to turn it on*

    I'm absolutely frozen!

  7. BG! says:

    @Peewiglet -

    Well, the fitter arrived back at about 11:30 and duly reconnected the meter. When I asked him how he would leak-test the system, he pulled out his sniffer-device, a pressure-gauge and some Leak-Detecting Fluid...

    "And will that lot work without a gas supply? I asked.

    "Err... no. Why do you ask?" he replied.

    "Well, they disconnected our spur from the mains at 08:00 this morning and they say that the soonest they can reconnect it is 16:00." I said.

    "Oh bugger." said the fitter. 😳

    Makes you wonder how many GCSEs and NVQs you'd have to fail to get employment with National Grid.

    I'm sure that PTC* would have done a much better job.

    I hope you feel a bit more snuggly-warm soon, PW 😉

  8. BG! says:

    16:30 Update:

    No gas yet. No meter test yet. Have sent the kids to stay with their grandparents.

    I'm off hunting, hope to bag me a gasman.


  9. BG! says:

    17:30 Update:

    Now we have a fitter... but still no gas.

    Gratis cuppas are being withheld. It may be the season of goodwill, but my quota for the week has been used up.

  10. BG! says:

    Finally got gassed-up at about 19:30 last night, when we were allowed to get the heating fired up pending a final check within an hour.
    Over one hour later the system passed their tests despite having a minor leak, and this morning there is still a distinct smell of gas in the vicinity of the meter. Allegedly, our minor leak is within safe limits 😕

  11. Alistair says:

    A safe leak? Is there such a thing? 😯 Presumably they mean if the meter was in a field with a constant supply of fresh air wafting away the highly explosive fumes? and not in a cupboard.

  12. Peewiglet says:

    This is ridiculous! Are you going to contact them again about it? How on earth can it possibly be safe to have *any* kind of gas leak in your house? Imagine (heaven forbid) what your insurers might say if it led to an explosion, you needed to make a claim and it came out that you'd been aware of the leak beforehand. I can imagine them refusing the claim.

    I'd be straight back onto the gas people if I were you.

    *sends virtual hug, and stiff drink*

  13. Alistair says:

    BG!, PW! has a point - get on that blower NOW 😈

  14. BG! says:

    Been on the blower, not to call out a fitter but just to get clarification about the "safe leak" thing. The nice lady at the other end had never heard of it and she had to send a fitter, as she has no choice - if a customer smells gas, they get a visit within the hour. I told her that the leak was so small that it didn't show on any standard test equipment, but she sent a fitter anyway.

    As predicted, the fitter couldn't detect or find any leak in the meter cupboard, despite the smell of gas.

    We're up and running again, I'm to leave the meter cupboard door shut overnight and then sniff-check it in the morning.

    I quizzed the fitter about the "safe leak" thing, and he said it's true and depends on factors such as the meter type and the property size, stating that it had something to do with the amount of dispersal into the air and the amount of ventilation throughout the course of a normal day due to windows and doors being opened. He said that for our property, the "safe limit" is.....

    wait for it...

    "a drop of sixteen-tenths of an inch of water over a period of two minutes."

    Seems a lot to me. Of course, he could be bullshitting me, but he seems trustworthy.

  15. alan.sloman says:

    @BG! -
    I agree - this is a nightmare! If I could smell gas I would want it fixed properly - not to a 'safe limit' - small leaks have a habit of developing into large leaks.

  16. Alistair says:

    "a drop of sixteen-tenths of an inch of water over a period of two minutes."
    are you sure he's a gas fitter and not a water board fitter? does he know it's a gas meter?

  17. BG! says:

    LOL, Alistair! I did wonder why he was wearing waders 😯

    Alan, if they could find a leak I'd willingly pay for them to fix it, unless it was caused by the recent work, and hence the responsibility of the "team". Sadly they can't find any leak anywhere, which means that the only way forward is a complete internal re-pipe, at my expense, and there's still the possibility that I'll end up with new pipes and a different leak that they can't detect.

    It brings to mind one of my favourite movie lines: "Let's work the problem, people. Let's not make things worse by guessing."

  18. Scott says:

    We decided to change our gas supplier a few weeks ago. They sent us a final bill for the last three months, suggesting that we owed them £4326.

    I wisny entirely convinced, given that the bill for the same three month period last year was about £320. Long story short, after an interestingly frank - perhaps even brusque - conversation, it transpired they owed us £150.

    Just thought I'd share, in case you were worried it was only your gas company that was incompetent.


  19. BG! says:

    How the hell did they manage to come up with a figure of £4326? Did they charge you a tenner every time they scratched their ar5es?

    Still, the £150 will come in handy. You could buy a lifeboat for that water-garden of yours :mrgreen:

    Just to clarify - our OD of gas-related idiocy is the doing of the contractors. Our gas supplier isn't involved at all in this matter. Ironically, we're supplied by Scottish Power. I'm told that the gas itself has a Wegie accent and that's how you can tell the difference, but I'm still to be convinced 😉

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