Sleuths delve under café floor to solve noisy pump mystery

Our technical team have been wearing their detective hats over the last few weeks, scouring under the Manor House floorboards to solve the mystery of the noisy heating pump.

Technical Services Manager Paul Middleton and Maintenance Engineer Rob Hickman noticed that something was amiss in early May when the Manor House basement heating pump was much noisier than usually on a routine check. They deduced that air must have got into the pump, and that water must be leaking from one of the pipes carrying water around the heating network.

It was then easy for Rob and Paul to check that no pipes were leaking above ground, but that meant the leak must be from the 10 per cent of the network that is underground pipe – much trickier to locate. As the water was soaking away into the ground, there was no visible sign over ground of where the pipe had cracked.

“To help us locate the pipes, we referred to the 1951 drawings from when the heating was first installed, and the 1967 drawings when it was extended to incorporate the Thames Wing,” explained Paul. “We started taking sections of floorboards up in the café, and the wrought-iron grills. Rob did most of the work and it took us several weeks to pinpoint the leak, as we were very careful taking up the flooring – we didn’t want to damage it.

“The leak now needs repairing by a specialist contractor, but the hard work of finding it has been done. The pipes above ground are in good condition, but quite damp below ground level.

If a temporary patch doesn’t hold, we will be able to isolate the problem, and continue using the rest of the heating system while we replace the pipework.”