6th January '10
The United Kingdom has been going through a bit of a cold snap as of late, as I’m sure many of you are aware.
Shrewsbury is no exception, although blissfully we’ve managed to avoid being hit too badly by the snow and ice that has caused so much trouble in other parts of the country.
As a result of this weather, having good heating systems in your home and office has been more important than ever.
So it’s rather unfortunate for me that the flat I’ve been living in for the past four years has no heating apart from a couple of oil-filled radiators that I purchased after moving in, and a defunct storage heater attached to the living room wall. Very little insulation either.
Since I moved into the flat in 2005, the winters that have come and gone have been increasingly tough to get through, temperature-wise. Going to the bathroom first thing in the morning would typically involve a dreary-eyed glance at the depressing reading being displayed on the thermometer – at it’s worst, between 7 and 9 degrees Celsius.
Over the years I’ve attempted to get the storage heater repaired. I’ve had numerous electricians visit and test the circuits, to find nothing wrong. I even took the heater apart to see if there were any obvious signs of damage or burnt out electronics. Nothing.
So towards the end of December I started looking into replacing the storage heater. I knew this would cost quite a lot but had a favourable quote from a Bridgnorth-based supplier of storage heaters. To give me a fully accurate quote including the removal and disposal of the broken heater, they would need a model code. I didn’t have this, but told them I’d call them when I did.
That evening, I took a look at the side of the heater and found the model code I was after. I was just about to give them a call with the information when a thought occurred to me, “I wonder whether anyone else with this heater has had a similar problem?”.
Straight to Google I went, and a quick search later I was reading about someone else’s experiences with the heater. They were almost identical to mine, right down to getting a number of sparkies to take a look at the unit, only for them to find nothing wrong. The next bit perked me up though – he said the last electrician to come out had prior knowledge of these particular heaters and knew that they had a “cut off” switch inside that sometimes tripped when it shouldn’t do, and that all you had to do was take the front cover off, find the cut off switch (a rather non-descript bit of white plastic) and push it in until it clicked.
I held out little hope that the solution to my problem would be as simple as this, but thought I’d give it a try. Off came the front cover of the heater, and a quick recce revealed a rather non-descript bit of white plastic. I tried to push it in and, lo and behold, it made a resounding click!
Now, the wait began. Storage heaters charge up during the night when electricity is cheaper and release the heat throughout the day, so I’d have to wait until the following morning before I knew if my repair had worked.
The following morning, I eagerly rushed to the heater and pressed my hand up against the metal. Still freezing cold. A pang of disappointment ran through my body, and I went to work disheartened. I was just about to call the storage heater suppliers when I was hit by a sudden thought – the circuit breakers on the wall. I’d turned them off a couple of years ago as I deemed there no need to keep them on while the heater wasn’t working.
After getting home, the first thing I did was flip those circuit breakers back on, and then another wait began. This time, much to my relief, it worked. The heater started heating up at midnight on the dot and the smell of four years of dust buildup burning away immediately started to fill the flat. Nothing a bit of Glade wouldn’t sort out!
So, the moral of this (rather long) story is thus – if you have a problem, and if no-one else can help, and if you’re online – maybe you can find the answer on Google.