Hot water cylinders soak homes

00:24, Jul 26 2013
Ben Rogers
Flat tack: Morgan Plumbing plumber and gas fitter Ben Rogers was busy most of yesterday fixing hot water cylinders damaged by the earthquakes.

Solo mother Charmaine Bulled and her two teenage children have been staying at a motel since Sunday's 6.5 magnitude earthquake destroyed water pipes and inundated her house in Blenheim.

Ms Bulled was home alone when the ground rattled at 5.09pm on Sunday night.

She immediately jumped outside and waited for the shaking to stop.

Too scared to go back in, Ms Bulled visited a neighbour and rang her son to say, "get your arse back here, your mum needs you".

She eventually returned home about midnight, thinking the worst was over, only to find the earthquake had damaged her water cylinder and burst pipes.

"It was like it was raining inside my house," Ms Bulled said. "Or like a horror movie with water pouring down the walls from the ceiling onto the furniture and television."


Ms Bulled, a fulltime caregiver at a Blenheim retirement village, had gone back to the house during the week to get extra clothes and feed the cat, she said.

The smell of the carpet was "unbelievable" and the ceiling was like soft cardboard, she said.

"There is nothing we can do; you can't live in it."

It had been a stressful week as insurance companies and the Earthquake Commission said it could be up to seven working days before they could assess the damage, she said.

"This is my first home and it was a struggle keeping up with the insurance payments but thank God I did. Now I have to find somewhere for us to live."

Plumbers in Marlborough had reported being busy with earthquake-related callouts, with the main problem being broken hot water cylinders.

Morgan Plumbing foreman Paul Crosbie said he had about 30 jobs in Seddon this week.

Most of the work was fixing the connections to hot water cylinders, some of which had shifted half a metre, he said.

"I would imagine, if we continue to get quakes, there will be plenty more work coming in."

A house could easily flood if the cylinder was not fixed straight away, he said.

AJB Plumbing owner Andy Biddle said the phone was "going nuts" on Monday but callouts had settled down.

A chimney collapsed at a property off the coast at Seddon and caused the tank that supplied the water cylinder to fall over, Mr Biddle said. A hot water cylinder in Blenheim moved in the quake because it was not strapped in.

"Monday was pretty busy but it's all good now."