In 21st century New Zealand we take a lot for granted. A domestic disaster this week brought this home to me rather sharply.
On Monday morning I discovered the hot water cylinder was leaking, all over the laundry and hallway. Once the carpet was lifted it was clear it had been quietly seeping from the cylinder for some time; the floor and carpet were saturated and smelt dreadful.
It took from Monday to Friday to dry out the walls, floors and carpets, using commercial dehumidifiers. During this time the house was uninhabitable and half the house inaccessible because of the drying machines.
Although the insurance company paid for motel accommodation and the water damage, I began to feel somewhat dispossessed and can only marvel at how people in places like Bangladesh, which are frequently inundated, pick up their lives and start again. Without the benefit of insurance or helping agencies.
We take for granted we will turn on the tap and are instantly supplied with hot water. We turn on the stove and it cooks food. We don't have to light a fire to boil hot water or cook food. We have refrigerators to keep food from spoiling.
People in third world countries - where they have spend their time gathering food, gathering firewood, and organising shelter in order to survive - focus on survival. We in the first world, who can heat or cool our homes with the flick of a switch, and have a meal ready in 10 minutes, thanks to the microwave, generally don't have to worry about the basics of survival. But we don't seem any happier for it.
Turning on the hot tap on Friday night and finding hot water was pure bliss.
Finding the six-year-old Rheem hot water cylinder leaking water all over the laundry and hallway was not the best way to start the day.
The plumber was here very quickly and advised there was no way of repairing/welding modern hot water cylinders because they use polystyrene for insulation.
I wouldn't mind so much if the cylinder had been old - Consumer advise low pressure cylinders should last for up to 40 years - but this was only six years old. And one year out of warranty.
The plumber commented that this was not uncommon in modern hot water cylinders. This is a sad indictment on modern manufacturing standards and their commitment to build down to a price, rather than providing quality workmanship.
On top of the cost of the new cylinder is extra electricity; I'm currently running a heater and dehumidifier to dry the carpet out.