The Bulgarian Boiler Saga

It has been two and a half years since the boiler in my farmhouse had been installed and in that time it has roughly been used for about half that time. So when it broke down I was very surprised, it still looked brand new and I couldn’t understand why this happened.

Both Galia and I were staying in the Skalitsa farmhouse for three or four days, still cleaning the place after English guests when this happened. There was a little ‘pop’ and water started pouring out of the bottom of the 40 litre boiler. We knew at this stage that it would cost money whatever happens. Either a repair bill or a new boiler, it was my opinion that a new boiler was needed, but that’s just my English way of thinking the worst. Galia was sure that this could be repaired for two reasons. The first, she is Bulgarian and that’s what they do here. The second and more convincing reason from where I was standing, was her brother has a boiler business where he designs and makes them for the whole of Bulgaria and for export. He was probably the most knowledgeable person in the whole of Bulgaria when it comes to boiler systems and Galia works at the factory it the office. What a stroke of luck.

Let’s go back to the problem in hand in the farmhouse bathroom. The only way we could stop the water was to turn it off from the main stop tap in the garden, the little stop tap under the boiler turned off but not fully so there was still water seeping into the boil. We couldn’t drain the system unless this was cut off, so it was no water in the house until the boiler had been drained and the inlet pipe sealed off. Of course we didn’t realise that the little tap didn’t stop the flow fully until 24 hours later when we knew that we’d probably drained 400 litres at this point.

So the boiler was finally drained after cutting all the water off and the local hardware stored visited for a plug nut to fit to seal the inlet pipe coming into the bathroom. This worked and the wait was on to get the boiler repaired or replaced. It was man handled into the Lada for the 35 km trip to Yambol and the boiler factory. I was still convinced that a new system was needed.

The next day the boiler was dropped off to the factory, the wait was on to see whether a fix could be made. Luckily we didn’t have any guests booked in the farmhouse, we would have had to cancel due to no hot water. We manage fine without it but non Bulgarian tend to expect the full works, even with 25% discount which would have been given in view of this.

The Friday came and we picked the boiler up which was apparently repaired. There was a whole bucket of black residue from inside the boiler and the heating elements had to be replaced along with the emergency pressure tap. The cost, 30 leva, we were not charged for the service, it was a family affair.

On the way back to the farmhouse we had to buy another flexi pipe and stop valve as the previous one had snapped and expired the previous week when dismounting the system. So another 6 leva for these bits and it was Skalitsa bound with hope of a hot shower in the air.

Within the hour the system was up and running, although the little stop valve had to be omitted due not being able to screwed flush to the wall as the on/off mechanism just got in the way. Like before the stop tap would have to be operated from the main stop valve in the garden. Success? Yes we both had a hot shower that evening and another in the morning.

Was this the end of story? No Sunday the system broke down again it looks like the thermostat has blow a fuse, so it is back to Yambol to buy a new one. The thermostat was non repairable as it was a sealed unit. We would have to wait another week before we return and try again.

The thermostat part was bought for 15 leva but again there was no guarantee that this was the part that was broken. I use my best diagnosis to guess the waiting game still went on to Friday evening.

The first thing I did when arriving at the farmhouse was insert the thermostat and a jump for joy was made as the whole system finally worked perfectly. That evening we both had a lovely hot shower and the whole episode over. This weekend was the first since the spring that we had stayed there and had electric, running water and hot water throughout the weekend. Relax we did.

Galia was calling me a maestro plumber and electrician all weekend, she thinks because I am English and led a sheltered life in the UK I know nothing about plumbing or electric. She is half right. The boiler saga over and I am that much wiser with it.