I thought that home ownership was all about white walls, green plants and finding the perfect rug. Instead, I’m looking at a wall with a strange, grey scratch on it, plants with brown and yellow spots (is that normal?) and a rug that’s buried underneath my kids’ toys, books, cushions, paper and textas. So when my husband accidentally shut off our gas heating on a freezing Canberra day, it seemed like just another thing that happens in a family home.
That is, until we discovered that our gas heating system was actually 32 years old, leaking deadly carbon monoxide throughout our four-bedroom home, and needed to be replaced as soon as possible. And if it wasn’t for Jeff temporarily breaking our heating, I may not even be here to write this story.
We had owned our house for around two months, and we were still figuring out what needed to be fixed. One day, I was putting boxes into our garden shed when I noticed a tap gushing water all over the ground. I tried to turn it off, but nothing worked. We called a plumber, and Jeff decided to turn the water supply off so that we didn’t waste any more water.
I was inside, unpacking more boxes, when Jeff came back. “I think I turned the water off, but I’m not sure,” he said. I followed him outside to find out what he meant. “That’s what I turned off,” he said, pointing to an old, chunky metal thing stuck to the side of our house.
“Jeff, that’s our gas!” I shrieked.
I went back inside, and hovered my hand over the heating vents in our floor. Nothing. So now, we had cold water splashing everywhere outside, our ducted gas heating was broken, and it was the middle of winter in Canberra.
Jeff couldn’t turn the gas back on, even though he tried. The plumber arrived, and thankfully he knew his way around a gas heating system. He turned the gas back on, but recommended that we call someone to service it. He said the system looked old, and may need replacing.
(It’s at this point that I have to tell you that the water mains was buried underground, and that the plumber couldn’t find it. He had to use a metal detector to locate where it was buried in our front garden. Jeff told me to tell you this.)