Bubble, Bubble, Toil & Trouble

Well, might this post be about the upcoming Halloween festivities? What if I said “Clang, Clang, Hiss & Bang”? Or “Drip, Drip, Basement Trip”?

Yep, it’s heating season again, or as I like to refer to it, “6 months of 62.”

Let me start by saying I’ve always been a forced air girl from Furnaceworld. Getting heat there meant simply walking over to the thermostat, kicking it up a notch (a la Emeril), hearing the click, and a minute later feeling warm(ish) air flowing out of those inconspicuous grates in the floor, wall, or ceiling. You’d change a filter once in a while, call the guy to check the works every year or so, replace a part now and then. That’s about it. Oh, and a bonus: You can also get air conditioning with very little trouble.

Now I live in Boilerland. It’s a cold place, where valuable square footage is eaten up by hulking cast iron radiators lurking under pretty wooden covers (that, of course, reduce heat flow). In this land, due to some quirk understood only by my husband and other HVAC aficionados, upping the thermostat more than 2 degrees at a time causes water to spew out of the “pressure relief valve” onto the basement floor and whatever is stacked there. Any maintenance involves a task called “draining the system,” which in our case means hooking up a garden hose out the basement window, as we have no working floor drains (which makes any water spewage even more fun). The reverse of this, “filling the system,” means pulling off the pretty wooden covers (and the pictures, books, plants, lamps, vases, kleenex, and other tchotchkes displayed on them) in every blessed room in the house and “bleeding the radiator” with a little key and an old margarine tub. Then running back down to the basement every 5 minutes to make sure no water is spewing out anywhere. Oh, and there’s still the mysterious “thermocouple” that goes bad when it’s -3 degrees on a Sunday, leaving you heatless — Boilerland doesn’t have anything over Furnaceworld in that respect.

“But hot water heat is so nice,” you’re thinking. “It’s not so dry as forced air. And it’s less dirty — no dust blowing around.” Yes, that’s what I’d always heard. However:

  1. 62 degrees is 62 degrees — cold enough for your hands and feet to go numb. You can pull the cover off and clutch the radiator to get a little warmth, but that only goes so far. Why 62? Well, getting a $450 gas bill is a good reason. (I’ll save the discourse on uninsulatable [I made that word up] “clay-tile-over-brick construction” for some other time.)
  2. We still get shocked whenever we touch anything, and the cats’ hair all but leaps from them to us, so that “less dry” stuff is bunk, too, as far as I can see.
  3. This is the dustiest house I’ve ever lived in. Some of it is because we are always sanding something, but even when we’re not, the place is a dirtpile. I just can’t keep up.

But it’s not all bad. We’ve supplemented with lovely little ceramic cube electric heaters. You walk over to one, kick up the thermostat a notch, hear the click, and warm air starts pouring out. It’s a beautiful thing — almost like being back in Furnaceworld.

May you have warmth in your igloo, oil in your lamp, and peace in your heart.
                                                                             ~ Eskimo proverb


  1. CUTEBLOG NAME said,

    Friday, October 26, 2007 at 11:50 am

    Pans full of water on the radiators.

  2. Monday, December 10, 2007 at 11:56 am

    […] take it. Now though, especially because I was so harsh on living in boiler world (See Bubble, Bubble, Toil & Trouble), it’s only fair that I report some return to normal body […]

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