Building Construction, Renovation, Maintenance & Advice

Leaking Hot Water Pipes

"A Hen and the Art Of Nasal Hygiene"

“It’s just like pouring money down the drain he said”
“I beg your pardon?”
“You know, pouring money…. down the drain.”
“That’s ridiculous, how can you pour money down the drain? It doesn’t tend to flow very well now does it?”
“Well no I mean figuratively speaking.”
“Figuratively? Does the denomination of the notes make a difference?”

So how do wealthy people manage to get rid of all that horrible money that they keep acquiring?

Probably the most effective and literally accurate way of pouring money down the drain is to pulp the notes into a slurry so then it will flow - well at least until it blocks the drain. As a second best option you can always buy something very expensive such as a bottle of 1951 Penfold’s Grange Hermitage, - now that would flow quite well, you could even drink it first and it would end up going down the drain but we are starting to lose the point of the exercise.

Another option is to dissolve something very expensive in the water such as, er, electricity before pouring it down the drain. But, I hear you think, you can’t dissolve electricity in water - no that’s true, but you can heat the water up before pouring it away. Yes indeed, we now have a very efficient and effective way of divesting ourselves of large amounts of that horrible dirty money stuff.

The phone rang and I was greeted by a polite but somewhat disturbed voice on the other end of the line.
“We have a villa, only 2 of us live here but our electricity bills are very high.”
“High, how high?”
“Around 4 million a month.”

A few straightforward questions were not providing answers and so I went around for a look. I noted a reasonably sized swimming pool but not much else that would use a lot of power.

It is often the case that people are not aware of just how much power they are using as they gather appliances around them to ease their lifestyle and so we sat down and checked through everything that would use electricity. They didn’t have a tumble drier or heated washing machine, they did use air conditioners but only at night, no 2,000 watt electric kettle or curling tongues, even the electric toothbrushes were economy models. They were being efficient and should not have been using so much power. Our attention turned to the most obvious users of power - the electric water heaters in their 2 bathrooms. These can use large amounts of power if left on all the time.

It was decided to try air conditioner water heaters, low cost but highly effective units for collecting the heat expelled from air conditioner units. They were using their air conditioner anyway and this would heat water at no extra cost and remove the expense of those power hungry electric heating elements.

Two air conditioner water heaters were installed. One bathroom had heaps (well bucketfuls) of wonderful piping hot water but mysteriously the other didn’t. The water would be sort of warmish first thing in the morning, quickly deteriorating into the distinctly luke category and by midday the water would reach that stimulating temperature capable of reducing brass monkeys to eunuch status.

Serious interrogation of the pembantu followed and, just for the record, water boarding was not used.

Standard questions such as “Were you using hot water on the morning of the 25th of March last?” or “Can you account for your movements at the time the heat vanished from the aforementioned water?” yielded nothing, not even trick questions like “Do you use a rubber duck when you take a hot bath?” were able to provide further illumination to the situation.

In fact no explanation for the absence of anything of an aqueous and thermally enhancing nature was forthcoming. Unfortunately the trail had gone cold, stone cold.

“There must be a leak” the technician said, “it is obvious the hot water is running away somewhere.”

The gardener disagreed, his expansive knowledge derived from years of experience removing biological deposits from his nasal cavities with his digit and stroking his highly prized cock while squatting on a local street corner told him that this simply could not be the case.

“But we can’t see any water” he ejaculated, “where could it be going?”
“Into the walls, into the ground, who knows? All we know is that there is a leak and there is a great wailing and a gnashing of teeth being heard throughout the land as wallets are being emptied.”

The doubtful gardener held out.

A pressure test was carried out on the suspected section of pipe and, sure enough, proved that somewhere there was a leak.

But still the gardener held out showing us his certificate in nasal hygiene as proof of his gnostic capacity.

But then an additional problem arose. An examination of the suspect bathroom made it clear that there was to be a challenging removal and repair of nicely finished luxury marble and stonework involved in replacing pipes.

The technician (not having a certificate in nasal hygiene) retreated. Time passed (as is its wont) and eventually the tepid mornings took their toll. The leaking pipe was bypassed with a new pipe and, sure enough the problem was solved. Lukewarmness was eliminated and glorious, steaming hot morning ablutions put the smiles back on everyone’s faces.

Electricity is expensive and is bound to become a lot more expensive. The Indonesian authorities are very wisely starting to develop geothermal electricity generation, an obvious source of energy in what is probably the most volcanically active area of the world, but this will take time and a lot of financial investment to get up and running. We can only expect electricity prices to keep on rising for some time to come.

Leaking hot water can cost you a lot of money.

It is a good idea to check your electricity consumption. Particularly look for unexplained high electricity usage or usage that doesn’t match the occupation and use of bathrooms. Carry out an audit of how much power your appliances and equipment use.

In the case of water heaters and pumps it is a good idea to have stop valves to isolate sections of pipe or pieces of equipment. This is helpful when identifying problems or when carrying out maintenance work.

Pipe leaks are very common and often caused by plumbers who usually cut and assemble pipework then go back to glue all the joints. Some joints are often missed only to be found when the building is complete and the water finally turned on revealing sickening wet patches which appear in the beautiful marble bathroom walls.

There are, of course, many highly skilled plumbers around but unfortunately there are quite a number whose plumbing skills are reminiscent of a baboon attempting to build a model of the Eiffel tower out of banana skins. It is wise to watch them glue a few joints to see if they know what they are doing. Fittings should be good quality and fully pushed onto the ends of pipe with a good coating of glue on both the fitting and the pipe. Solvent cement and not PVC glue should be used.

As we have said it is often difficult to identify exactly where the actual leak is and the solution is often to install a new piece of pipe to bypass the leaking section. This can also help in avoiding or minimising damage to that beautiful bathroom or kitchen.

If you are having to work on your hot water pipes you might consider taking the opportunity of upgrading the pipe to PPR (Polypropylene Random Copolymer) pipe. This is a high quality pipe with a thick wall, usually green in colour and particularly suited for use with hot water ( there are hot and cold water versions). The joints are welded with specialist heat welding equipment so there should be no chance that pipes will leak. It is very strong and the thick wall provides excellent heat insulation properties to reduce heat loss.

The conclusion of our tale is that two residents of Bali are very happy with their morning dose of free hot water and the gardener is furthering his education having just started a diploma course in the grooming of Gallinaceous Jungle Fowl.

Copyright © Phil Wilson 2014
This article or any part of it cannot be copied or reproduced without permission from the copyright owner.

5 September 2017 Copyright © Mr Fixit,
Jl Bypass Ngurah Rai, Gg Penyu No 1, Sanur, Bali 80228, Indonesia
Telephone: +62-361-288-789, Fax:+62-361-284-180