Living Between the Lines

Home alone – mechanical breakdown

We have had a run of household appliances breaking down, since just before Christmas. First, there was the boiler, oh and next there was the boiler and yes, then the boiler again! In fact, we have now been without heating for more than four full weeks due to a blockage lurking somewhere in the pipes. Thankfully, it has been milder this last couple of weeks but every time we hit a cold spell I shiver and adjust the settings on the temporary heaters that we have strategically placed around the house.

The dogs particularly like the halogen heater that is currently sitting in the corner of the living room. Convinced it is the sun, they fight for position in front of it. Keano, the smaller and older of the two, invariably wins but this morning Flossie got her way. Maybe Keano just got too hot.

"Come on Keano - move over!


"That's got rid of him - now it's mine all mine!"

A very nice man from British Gas has been helpfully paying us regular visits in an effort to sort the problem. Tomorrow he is going to flush out the entire system and all should work once again. Fingers crossed…

Meanwhile, aside from this relatively minor inconvenience, our washing machine grew progressively louder and finally gave up the ghost on Christmas Eve just as the tumble driver went into overdrive, continuing to tumble even when the door was opened.

The washing machine was mended – in stages. Stage one involved a kindly washing repair man visiting us on Christmas Eve and fitting a smaller drum as a temporary measure. Unfortunately, it required a smaller balance than he had with him and so we were told we could use the machine but only for light loads at the lowest spin cycle.

With a large family and a high turnover in Christmas visitors, this was not easy but we made do even if washing one bed sheet at a time was time consuming. I tried to get everyone to be frugal with their clothes and avoid throwing everything into the wash just for the sake of it. By the following week the machine had become so unbalanced when it spun even at its lowest speed, that it danced right across the utility room floor.

The washing machine repair man returned briefly and fitted a new balance weight. I used to think that this weight was something quite technical. It isn’t. It is a lump of concrete that sits on the top of the drum. We are still waiting for the bigger drum but at least we can spin the load properly now.

The tumble dryer seemed fine apart from the fact that it continued to spin despite the door being open. A minor issue…or so I thought.

I have just had the shock of my life. I had been out in the garden ‘tidying up’ and came back to the kitchen to hear a horrendous noise coming from the utility room which sounded like something about to take off. Some time before I had put a couple of items in the tumble dryer but this horrendous noise didn’t sound like the tumble dryer at all. I opened the utility room door and couldn’t even go in it was Soooooooooooooo LOUD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I mean as loud as an aircraft taking off. It actually hurt my ears.

I kid you not, I tried twice to go through the door and check if it was the boiler, the washing machine or the dryer making that row or something else entirely but as I put a foot on the step, the noise reached such a crescendo that I was convinced something was going to blow up (I do not jest). With visions of the house being blown to smithereens and me with it, I shut the door, shooed the dogs out of the kitchen and jumped on a chair to reach the fuse box, which is set ridiculously high on the wall, and tripped the switches to the kitchen sockets.

Well, that worked. Everything went quiet.

With great trepidation, I opened the utility room door. Relief flooded through me as I saw that the tumble dryer was not on fire, the boiler had not burst and the washing machine was sitting quietly in the corner, evidently not in use. The laundry was dry but I have added the tumble dryer to the ever growing list of broken appliances.

It took me all of half an hour to calm down after that episode…now all I can think of is the scene in ‘Home Alone’ where Kevin is terrified of the boiler in the basement.

Never a dull moment…

I am an Author, wife to one, mother to five and grandmother to six. I live in the English countryside in Hampshire, UK, with my husband and two dogs and am a non exec Director for Glow


  • Katie Gates

    Lordy! This story has amazing potential as an animated short! (And short, of course, has a double entendre here. I am thinking in terms of a short film, but there’s also the possibility of an electrical short.) I was there with you (your writing does that!), hoping that everything would calm down soon. I’m glad it did, and I’m glad you were able to calm down as well!

  • Hilary

    Hi Debby .. sounds terrible – one catastrophe after another .. I hope shortly that all will be well .. and February will be extremely kind to you, your house .. and your family! Wrong order .. but the thought is there .. cheers & keep positive, just a phase … Hilary

  • cj Schlottman

    Deborah, It sounds as if your appliances are staging some like of revolution! Isn’t it aways so that when one thing goes bad, the others follow like dominoes falling? Right now, I’m waiting for my water heater to finish dying. I refuse to buy another until this one has been officially pronounced dead!

    Thank you so very much for your kind comment on my blog post “And Things Get Worse.” It’s comments like yours that help me stay afloat, and I am truly grateful for my little blogging family. PS: I am feeling much better, and The Silent Butler sends its regards! – from its proper place!

  • Deb

    It sounds like spring can’t come too soon for you in more ways than one. It does seem like when something goes flooey, it’s followed by several other problems. If the rule of threes works here, you should be good for a long time.

    Love the pictures of the dogs and the heater.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: