Well, it's started getting cold. Really cold. And so we flipped the central heating over to the timer for the first time about a week ago. And all was fine. (Although having a warm flat means that I always seem to get caught by suprise that it's cold outside, as if my brain can't quite contemplate that the temperature indoors might not be representational of the temperature outdoors).
A few days in, though, we (or rather my brother, when he offered to do the washing up whilst visiting) noticed that the hot water wasn't coming out hot anymore. A bit of investigation and it seems that the hot water only works when the central heating is on, within the timer range - even if the boiler wasn't already firing at the time. Which is frankly weird.
Then we noticed that the guage showing the central heating water pressure had dropped from 1.5 'bar' to 0.75 'bar'. At this point, I phoned the estate agents. 'It probably just needs re-pressurising,' they said. 'As you're still getting heating - when we've got quite a few tenants who have no heating at all - we won't be able to get someone out til next week.' No probs, I thought.
But as I arrive home on Friday, my girlfriend tells me I need to pay a visit to the tenants in the flat below us. A quick knock on the door and they explain (very politely) that they've got damp patches on their bathroom ceiling. It's all very amicable (they tell how they've flooded someone before, and I relate the story of the tenant above me leaking water into my bedroom a couple of years back). But they're going on honeymoon in a week and so will be leaving their flat empty for a month.
A quick jog back upstairs and I can't see how it's just us leaking water whilst in the shower. I dig out the user-manual for the boiler from a cupboard in the kitchen, which is neatly bound in a 'tenant's information' folder (very impressed that such a thing even exists - I've lived in flats with shoddy landlords before). 'A pressure drop in the central heating system may indicate a leak in the system,' I read. Back in the bathroom, and the bit of floor which I estimate to be above the damp patch in the flat below features a tiled-over, boxed-off section, which presumably has a central heating pipe running through it.
Another call to the estate agents and they should be sending a contractor round early in the week. If it is a leak in that section of pipe, then it looks like they'll have to take the tiles off to fix it. No doubt causing a right mess. And I'll probably have to take some time off work to be at home for when they come round...
What a palaver, hey? Still, I guess it's better for it to happen now than over the Christmas holidays.