back to article All hail Ikabai-Sital! Destroyer of worlds and mender of toilets

My toilet is working again. I’m sure regular readers are overjoyed to learn this, and I extend a particularly warm welcome from me and my toilet to those reading this Saturday morning’s column while eating breakfast. That first celebratory slash of relief following three consecutive weeks of toilet withdrawal symptoms was …

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  1. Richard 12 Silver badge

    Leaks are usually simple to fix

    Either replace the washer, fill the hole with inappropriate gunk or put a bucket under it.

    My sink drain uses the inappropriate gunk method. I did get some appropriate gunk afterwards, but never needed to actually use it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Leaks are usually simple to fix

      This may be a tl;dr.

      I tend to be the old bloke who knows a bit about it - former industrial engineer who has worked with wet, sparks and software.

      Last week the neighbour called one evening to ask if I had a spanner that would do up a 22mm compression fitting. Well, I do...but he returned saying it didn't work and so I went over to take a look.

      A to the best of my knowledge unqualified "plumber" was installing a new bathroom sink. But it wasn't over where the old one had been.

      Had he put a crank in the cold pipe? No because it was a pedestal sink. Instead he had:

      1. Cut a section out of the 22mm cold pipe under the floor.

      2. Then discovered he couldn't move it to put a tee in so:

      3. He cut off a bit more and put in a repair section but then

      4. He put a white plastic pushfit tee between the original pipe and a stub in the repair section

      (still with me?)

      5. At which point he found that the repair compression joints leaked so

      6. He added PTFE tape but they still leaked because the adjacent hot pipe meant he couldn't get the spanners in properly.

      At this point I thought but did not say:

      7. Even if he tightens it that's a compression joint under a floorboard which is going to take hours to get to if it leaks again.

      8. There's side load on that plastic tee because it's all copper on both sides, so that might leak.

      Now, I don't mind doing above the floor visible stuff, and I use copper pushfit. But for anything else I call in my local plumber with his certificates, 15 years of experience in his own business and his public liability insurance (and I know where he lives...). And his soldered joints for underfloor stuff.

      So the point of this perhaps overly long post? For plumbing, find a decent plumber and give him enough work to ensure he comes out to you. Because the person who knows a bit about it might be me, or it might be someone who thinks you can bodge any old mess of compression, copper, plastic, pushfit and why, and so long as it isn't leaking when he leaves the premises, job done.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Leaks are usually simple to fix

        "And his soldered joints for underfloor stuff."

        I must admit I always use solder joints. I feel a lot more confident and secure that it's waaay less likely to ever leak. I learned how to do it when I installed my new kitchen. On the second attempt. Previous soldering experience was electronics and that solder has flux "built in". Plumbing solder, even the pre-soldered fittings, need solder paste applying first or you get a barely tacked on joint that sprays water all over the place when you open the stopcock :-)

  2. Big John Silver badge

    Obligatory Zappa

    Flakes

    1. ChaoticMike

      Re: Obligatory Zappa

      I'd forgotten that one...

    2. Surreal
      Gimp

      Re: Obligatory Zappa

      Big John? Not _the_ Bald-headed John: King of the Plookers?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Headmaster

    “airline crack”

    Sounds like a car mechanic I once used. His inspection bill said my engine was a "right off".

    1. Tom Maddox Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: “airline crack”

      Fucking homophones, how do they work?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: “airline crack”

        In San Francisco call boxes?

      2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: “airline crack”

        Probably just like heterophones, but with better taste in interior décor?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: “airline crack” -- no, no, he spelt it *right* !

          I'm surprised no one noticed:

          He meant those things developing by metal fatigue in wings, fuselages, etc.!

          (E.g. and IIRC, the De Havilland Comet was one such case.)

          And kudoes for "Ikabai-Sital" -- initially I assumed it were the name of a plumber hailing from perhaps Pakistan or thereabouts...

      3. Naughtyhorse

        Re: homophones

        The trick is spotting which end you need to blow into.

  4. Esme

    So that's what I do!

    Thank you for your enlightening and informative arrticle Dabsy. I shall go and swap my Helldesker mug for one emblazoned with 'High Priestess of Ikabai-Sital', now that I finally understand what my job function really is!

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: So that's what I do!

      All hail the high priestess!

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

        Re: So that's what I do!

        Just let us know where you get the mugs from, as I'm sure many of us could also do with at least one...

        1. Esme

          Re: So that's what I do!

          I'm simply going to buy a white mug, and some black paint, and paint it on. Why not? Painting - I know a bit about it... (did a nice SoM logo on the back of a jacket once, many moons ago..)

  5. jake Silver badge

    Plumbing's easy.

    Fresh water is input.

    Pipes move it about appropriately.

    Grey & black water get shifted as needed.

    Leaks are easily fixed, thanks to the UBC in your jurisdiction.

    It's not exactly rocket science.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Plumbing's easy.

      "Fresh water is input.

      Pipes move it about appropriately."

      Not when they're plastic pipes & the mice have chewed through one of them. They then move it inappropriately all over the floor.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Plumbing's easy.

        Not when they're plastic pipes & the mice have chewed through one of them. They then move it inappropriately all over the floor.

        Or when the drain under the kitchen sink keeps dropping out of its connection. I've fixed that now though. I wrapped an old mains cable around it and the pipe above.

        BTW: I'm a computer programmer, not a qualified plumber :)

        1. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Plumbing's easy.

          "I wrapped an old mains cable around it and the pipe above."

          Top drawer bodgery!

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Plumbing's easy.

            "Top drawer bodgery!"

            No. Cupboard under the sink bodgery. Much better.

        2. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

          Re: Plumbing's easy.

          Ooh, there are some quite unexpected twists in the plot.

          /edit/ Hope it doesn't take an unpredictable arc, that'd be shocking.

        3. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

          Re: Plumbing's easy.

          That sounds like the sink I in my old flat.

          The washing machine would cause the water to get air locked and then pop the pipes open.

          Cue removal of the open section it drained into and put a pipe connector in, then duct tape to keep the whole thing together when pressure builds up. Oh a brick to make sure it doesn't sag too much and leak from the cheap pushfit pipping that the original plumbers used when converting the place.

      2. Martin Budden
        Flame

        Re: Plumbing's easy.

        Not when they're plastic pipes...

        I fucking hate those new-fangled plastic pipes, I really do.

    2. thx1138v2

      Re: Plumbing's easy - for the complete idiot

      Shit flows down hill and payday is Friday.

  6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "This meant I was forced toa penny more than once – probably nearer £0.37 in total – in the downstairs sink, which I discovered is uncomfortably high for a diminutive man of five-foot-six."

    A. What's a toa?

    B. Don't you have a step ladder? Stand on the first step & pee between the rungs. Careful aim might be required.

    On a general point the entire plumbing industry seems dedicated to producing large numbers of parts none of which are what you need, probably don't fit together and when they do they leak.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Glue fixes everything

      "[...] producing large numbers of parts none of which are what you need, probably don't fit together and when they do they leak."

      Once did some friends a favour by replacing their utility cast iron bath and rusty water tank. They then decided to get a plumber in to replace the ancient 4 inch iron waste pipe which protruded from the kitchen ceiling below. That was not a job I was prepared to tackle for someone else - too many unknowns.

      I had finished the bath waste pipe with a standard plastic compression joint ready to accept a new plastic pipe. Near the end of the plumber's visit I discovered him unsuccessfully trying to glue his new pipe into the bath pipe's compression fitting. It appears that plumbers don't use compression fittings as they are relatively expensive - so he didn't recognise it as such.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Glue fixes everything

        "It appears that plumbers don't use compression fittings as they are relatively expensive"

        Plumbers don't like compression fittings because they develop leaks and require customer service.

        If you are plumbing from new, grey pipe and pushfit (especially the demountable type) or copper and copperpushfit are excellent; if you are adding to a copper system, copper pushfit is very good if you're doing it yourself, but for most jobs the time saved to the plumber isn't worth it. Also the pushfit fittings are bigger than soldered fittings which can be a problem in tight spaces.

        Cost has little to do with it. The last job I had done, the fittings were less than 1% of the bill. Not having to keep too many different kinds of parts in the van is more important.

    2. PhilipN Silver badge

      The entire plumbing industry ....

      ... loves right angles and only right angles.

      Does anyone know why when joining 2 pipes a few inches apart it needs a whole series of components of different lengths going through one 90 degree turn after another with a commensurate number and quantity of washers, nuts, waterproofing tape (whatever that thin white stuff is called) and of course an exponential increase in the risk of leaks?

      Come to think of it the automotive industry solved this problem more than 100 years ago with rubber tubing and spring steel clips*. Does a cistern which is never going to carry boiling hot water travelling at 100 mph need something more durable?

      *Not forgetting Ellerman's Oil for those who stick their head under the bonnet occasionally.

      1. stucs201

        Re: waterproofing tape (whatever that thin white stuff is called)

        PTFE - Plastic Tape For Engineers.

        (Technically polytetrafluoroethylene)

        1. Blofeld's Cat
          Happy

          Re: waterproofing tape (whatever that thin white stuff is called)

          "PTFE - Plastic Tape For Engineers."

          AKA Plastic Tape Fixes Everything

          1. Darryl

            Re: waterproofing tape (whatever that thin white stuff is called)

            Plastic Tape Fixes Everything

            No, that's duct tape. The handyman's secret weapon

      2. Ivan Headache

        Re: The entire plumbing industry ....

        Not forgetting "Hellerine Oil"

        Those homophones. How do they get them wrong?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The entire plumbing industry ....

        "Does a cistern which is never going to carry boiling hot water travelling at 100 mph need something more durable?"

        Flexible couplers of all sorts of length and termination are available from your friendly plumber's merchants. They are often embarrassingly helpful (well, the ones around here are.)

        What's more, nowadays you can buy ready made connectors with a kink to take them over a crossing pipe.

        Small point about boiling water - the average car hose is hot and under low pressure for only a few thousand hours. Domestic plumbing may be hot and under much higher pressure for that long every year.

      4. Naughtyhorse

        Re: whatever that thin white stuff is called

        PTFE

        Which stands for Plumbers Tape For Everything

    3. VinceH Silver badge
      Holmes

      "B. Don't you have a step ladder? Stand on the first step & pee between the rungs."

      Nah... just take a step or two back and aim high.

      "Careful aim might be required."

      And sufficient force.

      Icon represents a different problem.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge
        Holmes

        "Icon represents a different problem."

        3 pipe?

    4. Crumble

      "On a general point the entire plumbing industry seems dedicated to producing large numbers of parts none of which are what you need, probably don't fit together and when they do they leak"

      QFT!

      "What's a toa?" I'm not an expert, but I know a bit about word processing. "toa" is short for "to spend a".

    5. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge

      On a general point the entire plumbing industry seems dedicated to producing large numbers of parts none of which are what you need, probably don't fit together and when they do they leak.

      Sunds remarkably similar to IT really....

  7. Efros

    I predict

    Ikabai Sital T shirts before the week is out.

    1. MrT

      The cork-pulling monkey and the elephant...

      How about a rewording of the mug to "After I finish this coffee I'm going to move a 'backup' in the cloud..."?

    2. hplasm Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: I predict

      I want one, right now.

      With a tentacled silhouette underneath, preferably.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When I'm cleaning windows

    My friend thinks me a bloody-minded miser because I do most of my household maintenance myself. "Why don't you call in an expert" she says. My experience of the "experts" is that they too often are still earning that qualification. In the old definition - an expert is someone who has made all the mistakes. They are also someone for whom time is money - whereas my time is free.

    This week our neighbours clubbed together to have all our roof gutters cleaned. My opinion was that we had a blocked downpipe. A USB endoscope on the end of a walking stick suggested this was the case - but I couldn't quite reach the suspect junction out of my bedroom window for confirmation.

    Now ladders aren't my thing - especially on a three storey house. So I was happy to leave it to a specialist - who turned up with a very long extendable water brush and no ladders. This apparently is hi-tech window cleaning equipment - as Health and Safety makes it time consuming to do the job with the appropriate tower platforms. The organising neighbour had seen the window cleaner clearing someone's gutter - so had contracted him on the spot.

    While he started the job on the other houses I made a longer Heath-Robinson support for my endoscope. A garden stake, a shelf bracket, and some garden wire - all lashed together with electrical tape. This provided a laptop video of the top of the suspect downpipe - thus showing its blockage to the window cleaner. It also showed the blockage was still there after the brush had done its work - in fact it was now buried under a layer of swept debris.

    The window cleaner went off and came back in the evening with a mate who owned a ladder. Apparently H&S allows that for a single point access. He poked the accumulated debris with a piece of cane - and expressed his relief that the blockage was only a few inches deep. Whether he had a contingency of another mate with a Dyno-rod wasn't revealed.

    He is now going to buy himself a 15m endoscope and an active USB extension cable. For an outlay of about £40 he sees a business improvement opportunity of being able to do a "before and after" inspection by attaching it to the brush. He's even thinking of investing in an industrial strength vacuum cleaner now he sees how to guide the nozzle in the gutter.

    1. AP1960
      Facepalm

      Re: When I'm cleaning windows

      Ah yes, Expert, Ex as in "has been" Spurt as in "drip under pressure"

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: When I'm cleaning windows

      "...as Health and Safety makes it time consuming to do the job with the appropriate tower platform"

      or he could simply climb out of the, say, 4th floor window, stand on the outside sill, hold onto the frame with one hand, lean over and clean the adjacent ones with the sponge brush in his other hand.

      Seen it done, ..., never again

      1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

        Re: When I'm cleaning windows

        Me too - we promptly told him to get the fuck back inside!

  9. Fihart

    To return to IT.

    My brother had a Fujitsu/Siemens desktop from the late unlamented Comet Warehouse. After nearly a year it started going funny so he asked me to look at it. But, he pointed out, a seal on it says breaking that invalidates warranty.

    As it was still within the notional 12 month warranty period (which is merely an arrangement between mfr and retailer) he decided to let Comet sort it out. Their response was that they'd have to wait for the Fuj/Siem engineer to make his rounds -- up to three weeks away. My brother decided he could wait three weeks.

    When a month or so later the computer was returned, working, he was told that the issue had merely been carpet fluff in a fan causing the CPU to overheat.

    I think this qualifies as an Ikabai fuckup on the grounds that my bro could have easily analysed and fixed the problem in fifteen minutes max had it not been for the dumb sticker.

    The sticker had no business being on a device such as an IBM-type PC which was deliberately designed to be opened in order to add network cards etc (hint; the PSU is in a separate enclosure).

    1. Martin Summers Silver badge

      Re: To return to IT.

      Maybe so but he made the mistake of buying a PC from Comet in the first place. His second mistake of not breaking the warranty seal and diagnosing it himself was a follow on of being in the mindset to buy it from there.

      In all seriousness though if you've bought something new from a retailer and it had ended up being something expensive go wrong with the machine then your advice would have cost him if he had opened it up. It should be them who fixes it whilst under warranty frustrating or not.

      1. Doctor_Wibble
        Mushroom

        Re: To return to IT.

        > His second mistake of not breaking the warranty seal

        Actually the *real* mistake was to not figure out a cunning way of lifting said seal (and re-making it if necessary) in order to carry out the kind of evil illicit illegal law-breaking warranty-destroying service-violating activity that only criminals perform.

        I had something similar on an 'own brand' laptop - a solid mat of fluff in the gap between the heatsink and the exhaust grating was the answer to the question of why the cpu fan never went anywhere near idle-ish like it used to. Lesson (third one today this is becoming a bad habit): look at the temperature reading from time to time, 50-55C is OK, but if the machine says "WARNING - current temperature (99.0C) exceeds safe limits" then you really ought to think about finding that screwdriver. Explodey icon because that was the thing narrowly averted.

        p.s. also the air intake is exactly where it sits on your leg so the fluff isn't from the carpet it's from that super soft pink unicorns onesie you insist on wearing...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: To return to IT.

          "[...] but if the machine says "WARNING - current temperature (99.0C) exceeds safe limits" [...]"

          A friend complained that her PC would randomly die - sometimes after minutes, sometimes hours. So one Sunday she travelled a fair distance to let me take a look. Sure enough after a few minutes it died. Took the case off - couldn't find anything obviously loose - and then yelped as my hand brushed the heatsink. Closer inspection showed an obstructive wire meant that the fan had never worked in its life - and in fact was burnt out. A dig in the spares box produced a near-match over-sized fan which solved the problem.

          In the past I have found that many motherboard monitoring applications tend to be not quite compatible with Windows. The operational annoyances finally resulted in them being used only to verify a new PC build - and after that only if there was thought to be a new problem.

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