A sticky problem …

Yesterday my wife and I bought some varnish with which to paint the wooden window sills in the conservatory. As the varnish had a drying time of eight hours, I decided to wait until late last evening before I applied it to the window sills. I reasoned that this would give the varnish to opportunity to dry overnight.

I was wrong.

When I woke up this morning I checked the varnish … and it was still very, very tacky. I had forgotten that overnight the temperature had dropped, and that I had removed the old wall heater from the conservatory when I decorated. As a result it was never warm enough overnight in the conservatory for the varnish to dry.

My solution was to put one of our very effective convector heaters into the conservatory to blast the temperature up to a level where the varnish would begin to dry … but four hours later I am still waiting for this solution to work.

In the meantime I decided to have a shower. (I am off this afternoon to a meeting of my London Lodge and needed to have a shave and a shower before going out.) At first nothing was wrong, although the water was a little on the tepid side. However, halfway through the shower the water went cold … very cold, indeed … and it did not warm up again. Still covered in lather and dripping water I walked downstairs to the kitchen and checked that there was nothing wrong with the combi boiler. On the face of it the boiler was functioning normally (the water came out of the hot tap in the kitchen as normal), but when I returned upstairs to continue my shower, the water remained cold.

I switched to the bathroom, where I managed to have a very quick – and hot – bath. I then went back down to the boiler and checked the pressure. It was a little low, so I re-pressurised the system, but this had no effect on the supply of hot water to the upstairs shower room. At this point my technical expertise ran out, and I have now booked an appointment for an engineer to visit tomorrow morning. Hopefully he will be able to fix whatever the problem with the boiler is.

I wonder if the varnish will be dry by the time he arrives.


10 Comments on “A sticky problem …”

  1. Uh oh! I'm always suspicious when work in one part of the house is followed by a failure in another part. Also not terribly fond if cold showers, good thing you have a back up.

    Alwsys pays to keep a reserve!

  2. Ross Mac,

    For some reasons, this always seems to happen. Years ago I had a problem with the water stopcock. (It would not turn completely on.) When that was fixed, the water pressure in the house increased … and leaks appeared elsewhere in the system.

    I also hate cold showers … but at least we have a bath as well that I can use if necessary.

    All the best,


  3. Trebian says:


    Use Ronseal quick drying varnish. Then anything over can be used on figures.


  4. Trebian,

    I learned my lesson, and will be buying Ronseal quick drying varnish next time. (The varnish finally dried eight hours after I turned the heater on.)

    All the best,


  5. Jim Duncan says:

    I find that some of the quick drying varnishes don't give you a particularly tough finish and can also be marked by something as simple as water.

    For a windowsill or anywhere else liable to damp or wear and tear I always use yacht varnish. Tough as old nails.

    It does need time to dry properly though, preferably overnight and not too cold.

  6. Stu Rat says:

    So, the varnish worked as the instructions indicated?

    The horror..

  7. Jim Duncan,

    The varnish is more akin to yacht varnish than the more modern water-based varnishes I am used to using, and it has dried to what appears to be a much harder finish … which is what we need on the window sill.

    I intend to give it a second coat in a day or two … and will make sure that it is warm enough in the conservatory to dry within the eight-hour 'window'.

    All the best,


  8. Stu Rat,

    It may not have been Ronseal, but it did 'do what it says on the label'.

    Part of the problem was the overnight drop in temperature in the conservatory. I will make sure that the conservatory is be kept warm enough when I paint the next coat of varnish onto the window sills!

    All the best,


  9. Arthur says:


    A newspaper story reported a housewife terrified by the sight of a sudsy person lurking within a house. Any connection or are you just varnishing the truth here?

    Bit of a sticky situation, as you say…


  10. Arthur,

    It was me … and that is the unvarnished truth!

    All the best,


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