Raul is the most frustrating plumber I have ever met. He says he is coming to do a job and he comes 6 hours and two months after the promised time. If you are lucky. You swear you are never going to use him again. And then you do because quite simply he is the best. Full stop. No-one else comes close to him, not only in all the province of Castellon, but also higher up in the province of Teruel and further afield in the city and surrounds of Valencia.
For a while I looked around for an alternative, but there was none really so I always came back to him. When I asked him to install a nice traditional oil boiler, the same he had in his house, I received a very honest and reasonable quote within 2 days. My 68% grant would just about cover it. I bit his hand off and the installation was planned for 2 weeks hence. I was encouraged by the fast quote. Said boiler was installed 6 months later when the biomass groaned and died and he responded to my desperate SOS as per my previous post.
The job was a total nightmare and no one else would have been able to do what Raul managed without partially demolishing my house. But he thought and persevered and came back day after day and did not charge me a penny more. All my pipes from the Hansel and Gretel Shop had to be cut which meant excavating underground. Folks! The insulation was cheap interior house quality and although we were in the middle of a prolonged heat wave and it had not rained in 6 months, this disintegrating sponge was sodden and riddled with rat gnawings.
Raul showed me a photo of the kind of insulation he used. “What your builder installed,” he said, ” is totally useless for once it is wet, it will never dry. You have been heating the ground for 35 meters between the hut and the house.”
“What about the teeth marks from our not so welcome friends?”
“They did not seal the pipework – the pipes are not even in plastic! But it does not matter, they are not needed now – we will connect direct just next to the house.”
How it should have been done in the first place. Now that it was being done in the second place however the pipe run conduits had been filled with detritus no one could be bothered to remove at the time of build. Unlagged hot water pipes ran (!) next to electrical cables and also this in an open unsealed chimneystack. Through all this Raul managed to find a safe way to install an 8 meters high double stainless steel chimney vent for the boiler. And the rest.
The old boiler had faced an impossible task. No boiler would have coped, but in addition the biomass design meant that had to be on 24/7 or it would go off and need re-lighting. The Lasian did not seem to do anything but burn at 96c! We tried everything, but the electronics did not want to know and I am sure that is why it kept on breaking down. Thermostats at 0 or not, it was running at full steam, sending water to the house and pulling it back again in a loop, not knowing what to do with all this heat apart from send protesting clouds of black smoke up its chimney.
But some heat did escape thru the cheap valves Paco installed. I certainly sweated a lot. And in the winter I would have at the very least have suffered frost bite if it was not for the fireplace. A luxury addition that did not turn out to be such a luxury as naturally the boiler was busy heating the ground outside first, and then my house as an occasional afterthought.
I am happy to relate that since I embraced traditional boiler technology, I have not had ONE SINGLE problem and my running costs have plummeted while the system WORKS. Now the fireplace is as intended, a romantic focus for those few days. Raul and family have become firm friends and we have shared many conversations around various tables. Theirs, mine, in restaurants.
This is it, this is the end of my finca diaries, but it is not. I will relate the other disasters in a short entry that follows. Carlos and his cheek which unraveled bit by bit after the house was stamped and validated and signed off and he had milked every centimo from me that he possibly could. However I do not want linger on the negative anymore, because the rest is good. All good. The finca diaries will continue on an upbeat note, as much as possible of course because you have to be realistic. Next after next blog disaster sign-off, the good times begin. Vive El Maestrat! Well, apart from maybe the minor niggle. Nothing is perfect after all.