'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

Changing the boiler

I’ve been known to get a trifle smug when discussing the thermal qualities of your average villa with other residents who over-winter here for the first time; ‘Oh!’ I say, ‘ you didn’t think to have central heating fitted?’ Janet says that I never seem to notice the flickers of irritation that cross faces because I can’t wait to move on, extolling the virtues of our wonderful gas-fired system. Except I’m not so smug these days; have you noticed the price of those big gas bottles these days? TL250, a hundred quid! And one of those things lasts us less than a week – from smug to mug in about three years! There followed a Winter of Discontent where we tried to economise.

After freezing the balls off the proverbial brass monkey (for those worried about their children reading this I should explain that the ‘balls’ are the three brass balls that formed the traditional sign (the brass monkey) of a pawnbroking emporium) during much of last Winter we decided that enough was enough and the gas would go in favour of . . . what? We had no idea; having been out of any loop for so long (we don’t even have a phone line; the internet only arrived a few months ago in the form of VINN, a lightning fast, 3G technology that up our valley can barely keep up with the postman on his moped!!) that all we could think of was a coal-fired boiler and all that that would entail at our age. We had no idea where to begin . . . but we knew a man who did!

He pointed us towards a, in his words, very professional company in Fethiye, so along we went to this very impressive showroom that contained examples of every conceivable type of heating appliance. Our backwater, countrified brains span at the prospect of having to choose, we sat, open mouthed. We mumbled (and probably dribbled, too) as we tried to articulate our needs. We were shown various coal boilers with hoppers and big levers on the side that required something called ‘riddling’, they also required ‘lined flues’ and acres of waste ground to bury the ashes!

Then came the breakthrough that would likely change our lives – ‘Have you considered ‘Air to Water Heat-Pump Technology’? Considered? Hadn’t a clue what they were talking about. Turns out this thing could heat and cool our home and do it in different zones and do our hot water; it was state-of-the-art technology, capable of converting 1kw of electricity into 4.8kw of hot water – amazing! And no flues, no ashes, no coal scuttles, no riddling and no chimney fires! This was for us!

About ten days later the installation team arrived and set about removing the old and fitting the new; there were three of them. And then the service engineers arrived to complete the job; there were two of them, making five. They switched on and . . . problem; this thing can suck electricity down a cable faster than Aydem can generate the stuff so it fired up and powered down; fired up and powered down; fired up . . you get the picture.

So, now what? You need a regulator which would add 10% to the cost of the installation. We were still enamoured of the idea of no ashes and no chimney fires, so, OK, get on with it. The regulator took three days to arrive from Izmir and after some experimentation and a few more days, failed to make much difference. You need a bigger regulator – Jeez! How much is that? I’m not paying any more money for this, take it all away and give me my deposit back. ‘Lütfen! One more chance, please, no more money.’ OK! One last chance. Bigger regulator arrives and really does the job, ‘now we must testing.’

This is not the best time of the year to soak test a central heating system; there we were, all systems go, windows wide open as radiators blasted out heat day and night for several days. Great, it worked fine, we were happy. Now we needed to utilise the timer/control computer on the unit to control temperature etc, following the detailed instructions was less than easy but could be done; except that it couldn’t! My mind flashed back to the showroom when the patron said he hadn’t had the time to work out how to set the controls –  b^&&#* f@$+! These people don’t actually know what they are doing. They’d sold me this brand new technology without having a clue how to set it up.

Cue forward a couple of days and we had  a specialist engineer from Izmir plus his helper, plus nine other more local engineers all learning on our brand new installation how to set up this very expensive machine from a top-rated company  for this poor, bloody guinea pig of a customer – they spent hours but eventually it was done.

I have to say that when I complained to the supplying company they were most apologetic and admitted that they had failed. They took up my suggestion that they institute a proper programme of training for their engineers and even sent me the details of that programme. They deserve credit for that. Their local engineers worked near miracles to save the company’s reputation and satisfy us, their customer. Here, I want to say that I have the greatest admiration for Turkish craftsmen who battle sometimes iffy infrastructure and poor support to triumph in the end. From job start to final satisfied customer was 21 stress filled days during which the painter managed to fall off his ladder and decorate the yard with writhing and groaning and an abstract design in black enamel paint that we, in our panic, thought was blood! Burası Türkiye!

ps I’d recommend the system, the engineers and the company but not the experience!!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü