01 02 03 Africa Expat Wives Club: Kitchen Plumbing (in Africa) 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Kitchen Plumbing (in Africa)


Following on from my plumbing post, I have just had the joy of washing up (it’s a Sunday) with hot running water! The cumbersome 1980s hot water heater mounted at eye line over the sink has been removed. No more boiling the kettle, or boiling the water heater to wash up and no more thinking; ‘I would change this filthy washing up water, but I can’t be bothered to boil a fresh batch first.’

Last week, the plumbers fitted a little Italian electric contraption under the sink that heats water as it flows through ‘on demand’. Once the boiler was removed and the new taps fitted, there was a long debate over how to connect the small heater it to the mains electricity. The first idea involved taking nine more tiles off from above the sink (six had already been removed for the taps), chasing a channel into the stone wall for the wiring, then cementing it back and replacing the tiles. Having already endured half a day of knocking a huge gaping void into the stonework using brute force with much accompanying flying dirt, dust and noise in order to mount the taps behind the sink, my husband and I vetoed the above and sought another solution.

The whole process of fitting the heater took two full days with not less than three people working in the kitchen at one time. Lots of cups of tea were made. One of the small Italian heaters was blown in the process of fitting because it was run without water in it – so a new one had to be procured. I wonder if we will get billed for that?

We have finished up with; wonky, off centre taps, a kind of jigsaw of broken white tiles behind which are fitted haphazardly together with putty, a pervading smell of wet cement (a lot of cement was needed to fill the vast hole created behind the taps), kind of a white sheen over the floor where the dust has become imbedded into the brick tiled floor and sadly the piping hot water can only be described as ‘tepid’. We have to run the hot tap slowly to get warm water, but if it’s run too slowly it goes cold again. Also, if the flow is too slow the water trickles down the edge of the basin and falls just short of our washing up bowl. However, I am not really complaining – it’s a vast improvement to have warm water ‘on tap’ in the kitchen and I’m thrilled. We wanted to build an extension on our house one day but judging by this small plumbing saga, I’m not now sure that we’d dare risk it…..

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