It's not about the house.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Rare and Radiant

As soon as I got back from dropping Johnny to work yesterday, I realized 60 degrees was nowhere near toasty enough. And since it was already October 30th for crying out loud, I went ahead and programmed the thermostat to 65 degrees all day. 60 at night.

The real impetus behind the switcharoo was that I was going to work out, which necessarily involves taking off most of my clothes. Brr! I may (sometimes) be thrifty but I’m not (always) dumb.

So I put the heat up and, while I waited for it to come on, started my workout in a hooded sweatshirt -- with the hood up -- and flannel pyjama bots (mine, honestly, is not the most strenuous of workouts). I wasn’t halfway through (about twenty minutes – I told you: not so strenuous) before it was warm in there and, even without the flannel, I was sweating.

Twenty minutes! My bedroom! It has not been warm in there in twenty years! Or, okay, I exaggerate. I have no idea how long it’s been since it’s been warm in there. Certainly not since Johnny and I moved in, and at least a couple rotten years before.

See, these radiators (two in the bed, one in the hall) are the last three on the circuit. The previous owner shut them off because the room was rotting and dying anyway: why heat the fucker?

We gutted and bleached and scrubbed and built and plumbed and wired and boarded and plastered and floored, and Johnny wire-brushed and primed the radiators, painted them white and put them back on. One had to be moved to make way for a door, another had to go in at a funny angle because the room didn’t used to have baseboards in it and now it would no longer line up with its pipe, but they were finally in and on and finally working.


Okay, well, two out of three ain’t bad.

I want heat, I need heat, but there ain’t no way I’m ever gonna get heat…

I was so sad.

We tried everything, asked everyone. Went around the house fiddling with all the little knobs and dials on all the other radiators. Got new knobs and dials installed on all of them when that didn’t work. Tried to get the system bled, only to learn that you don’t have to bleed steam systems, just hot water. It was even suggested to us (by someone who obviously misunderstood the whole barefoot-in-a-parking-lot phenomenon) that painting the radiators white had caused the problem.

Nothing worked. And it was bad enough that it took almost three hours to get heat in the main part of the house, but we had to crank it up to 90 and leave it there all day to get anything to happen in my bedroom. Which I wouldn’t do. And so I froze.

I slept with my head under the covers, which suffocates me so I would stick out just my nose. I'd fold the king-sized down-comforter in half so it would be like having two. The blanket, also. Sometimes the sheet. And still I’d wake up unable to feel my poor proboscis but, in some sort of sick cosmic tradeoff, perfectly able to see my breath. For three years.

Okay, two. But still.

Common sense (well, my common sense -- which, I must admit, is embarrassingly common) told us this was normal and there was nothing to be done. The thermostat was in the dining room: it had no way of knowing how cold it was out back. Even the interweb said three hours for steam heat was normal: set your thermostat for 3:00 a.m if you want it to be warm when you wake up. And be glad when you're dead you bastard, you.

I had a space heater, but only used it if I was afraid the pipes in the en suite would freeze. I couldn’t stand how much it cost to run. Especially considering that we were already burning $500 worth of oil every month to not-heat the place. I considered – actually, I planned on – getting a gas fireplace installed back there. Someday. When we could afford it. Ha.

When the suit came from the plumbing company that Keyspan sent in June, I explained to him how it never got warm out there. How it, in fact, got so very cold. He said to fiddle with the knobs and dials. He did price the bedroom gas line for us, in the event, but not separately. He lumped it in. With that $6000 figure, which we told him to cram up his you-know-what.

Well, no we didn’t. But you do know what. And you know about the summer-long ordeal with Keyspan and the Kid and everything. So anyway here we are back to yesterday and me turning on the heat and the warm, warm, warmness in my room at last!

Everyone was wrong! The internets and plumbers and suits and everybody! What we’d been going through was not normal at all! It was just a gunked-up furnace, burning oil and not heating any steam! For $500 every month! For three years! Really, this time! But now that the boiler had been replaced, steam was flowing freely through the system at long last, like it was supposed to have been doing all along!


And then, when I got home from work, there was a big-ass puddle in the hall.

Apparently when steam flows freely, you have to be absolutely sure your radiators don’t have any holes.

I put a drip-pan under the leak for now. I plan on dealing with it properly next year. When I can afford it.


If you're still reading, let's have a POEM CONTEST:
Why'd I choose this title, on today of all possible days?


MD said...

Well radiant references the heat and you are taking an R and R dayTuesday Rest and Relaxation.

MD said...

Or it a veiled reference to Poe on Halloween take your pick

Leslie said...

Oh blast it all to bloody halloween hell, this one I could actually answer without even googling (being a Poe fan) except I took the day off and slept in and MD beat me to it by almost 3 hours.

"for the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore..." (ok so the exact quote I googled, but I did know it!)

Poe. Raven. Halloween.

Me. A day late and a dollar short as usual.

EGE said...

Yeah, I've really got to come up with a better way to do these contests. First come last served just isn't really any fun at all.


Sparkle Plenty said...

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! And, more important, HAPPY BLESSED WARMTH! Stay cozy and eat excellent candy.

Leslie said...

Well, to be fair, that's the point - I was lazy abed, so I wasn't exactly "first come"!! I acknowledge and accept that my own sloth has denied me once again the chance to be the subject of a poem, and so I accept my fate. Ahhhh, me.