Fixing fixes to fixes

Wednesday 1 June 2011, 1.27pm HKT

Home, 11.51am.

The plumbers (two) are doing repairwork in the bathroom to fix a broken junction watertap and a blown extraction fan.

The broken tap looks fine from the outside, but because watertaps are in contact with water 24 hours every day, the insides have become badly corroded. Just one screw held the thing together to stop water from gushing out. Mr Plumber explains:

‘Taps and pipes are mainly brass alloyed with some other metals. Brass has good anti-corrosion properties and steel good strength against bending and deformation. Because of the constant wetness, it’s the non-brass parts of the alloy that rot away faster [than the brass], so the inside goes bad while the outside still looks fine.”

The extraction fan died after burning out its insides after the heavy rainstorms of last week.


Couple of thoughts:

1. If you’re going on a longish trip and have to shut off power and water services, make sure you do a test shutdown a few days before the departure date. You don’t want to find out on the Big Day you’ve got a blown fusebox nearly setting your home on fire, or a busted spigot threatening to flood it, or both, an hour before your flight or train.

2. Tap/faucet/spigot failure is the commonest plumbing problem in the home. The insides die first because of the corrosion from constant water immersion. Taps and waterpipes need a yearly medical checkup — just like your body needs one too. Ask the plumber to come round and check out the plumbing for a small fee ($200 in my case) once a year. Helps you fix things early while they’re still affordable.

3. Open at least one window when using an extraction fan. What goes in must come out (or the reverse in the fan’s case). Mr Plumber explains:

“You can’t use the fan with all your windows in the house closed and with the aircon switched on. The fan’s sucking air out but there’s no new air coming in. Simple physics: the fan creates pressure differences between the home and the outside. The fan works in labour like that day in, day out, and eventually blows out. Because the kitchen is next to the bathroom, open the kitchen window when you’re using the fan.”

But I always have a window open whenever I take baths anyway.

“Well, stuff breaks down too, you know.”


Titbit from Mr Plumber:

“During SARS [bird flu epidemic in 2003], everyone shut off every single window in the place and kept only the extraction fans running. That just sucks out the germs from the toilet bowl and into the whole place, and then you breathe that in. Made lots of money from replacing all those blown-out fans then.”

I’m also brain-damaged enough to show you pictures:

(Slideshow follows)

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© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2011.

2 Responses to “Fixing fixes to fixes”

  1. Guus said

    “just one screw held the thing together to stop water from gushing out”

    Lucky you. I had a friend who woke up to a flooded flat once.


Comments are closed.

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