Saturday 10 December 2011

Central heating on the blink

The old boiler – not me! - aged gracelessly. With the passage of years it became increasingly temperamental, even cantankerous - perhaps me, after all;-)

Some days it would work, on others it refused to wake up at all. This made the approach of winter a matter of concern as temperatures dropped. Eventually it died and had to be sent to the great gas boiler graveyard.

Fortunately we have multi-fuel log burners and were able to heat our sitting room and conservatory. An immersion heater took care of the hot water but moving from the warmth, nay, tropical heat of one room to the Arctic regions of the rest of the house transported me back to my childhood when chilblains were the order of the day. It wasn’t as bad as that, of course, but one must allow for poetic licence.

Paul and John arrived on Monday to replace the gas boiler.
Out comes the old boiler
It might be butchered to rescue any useful parts, unlikely as that seems!
 Copper pipes going nowhere - the hole ensured that the garage was well ventilated!
 As usual, it was not a straightforward job, and the weather had turned very cold so they were working in many layers of clothes, with hoods up – the boiler lives in the garage. A good cooked breakfast in the morning and hot chocolate at regular intervals helped to warm the inner man and almost stopped them turning blue.
'Hot chocolate, drinking chocolate,
Hot chocolate, drinking chocolate'
I liked the Cadbury's advertisement but this chocolate was Charbonnel et Walker - yum!

Barry stoked the fires and kept them burning hot, hot, hot. The sitting room fire resembled a blacksmith’s furnace and I expected any moment that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego would come walking through the flaming coals to join me.

There were three children from the land of Israel
. . Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego

They took a trip to the land of Babylon
. . Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego

Nebuchadnezzar was the king of Babylon
. . Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego

He took a lot of gold and made an idol
. . Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego

And he told everybody when you hear the music of the cornet
And he told everybody when you hear the music of the clarinet
And he told everybody when you hear the music of the horn
You must fall down and worship the idol
. . Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego

But the children of Israel would not bow down
. . Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego
You couldn't fool them with no golden idol

So the king put the children in a fiery furnace
He heaped on coals and red-hot brimstone
Seven times hotter, hotter than it oughta be
. . Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego
Burnt up the soldiers that the king had put there

But the Lord sent an angel with snowy white wings
Down in the middle of the furnace
Talking to the children 'bout the power of the gospel
Couldn't even harm a hair on the head of Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego
Laughing and talking while the fire is jumping around

Oh Nebuchadnezzar called when he saw the power of the Lord
And they had a big time in the house of Babylon
. . Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego

Paul and John were staying with us. Now this is not a service we offer to all men who come to work in our house but Paul is our son-in-law. I was worried that they would be cold at night. Yes, we kept them working all through the night and didn’t allow them indoors until the job was done. No, we didn’t – they slept in the cold bedrooms but were perfectly warm and comfortable under the duvets.

Barry and I roasted in our bedroom – the chimney goes up through our room* and we had the dogs and Winston with us. Our pets like to share their love and company with everyone and enjoy moving freely from room to room. Paul and John needed their sleep so we kept our door closed so that they wouldn’t be disturbed by nocturnal visitors.

*I wouldn’t like you to run away with the idea that we have a stove pipe running up through the centre of the room, rather like the one on George Stephenson’s steam engine. 
George Stephenson's 'Rocket' 
image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
The chimney is enclosed within a wall, all neat and tidy – one of the few things in the house that can be so described.

Once the work had been completed in the freezing garage the rest of the house became the work space. Hose pipes were attached to radiators to drain them and then thermostats were fitted. After that the radiators had to be bled. What a strange expression that is. Whenever I hear it I imagine specialised leeches attached to the metal to suck out the life force. 

Strange whistlings and gurglings filled the air, towelling mopped up any spills and Paul and John rushed from room to room and from radiator to radiator to discern emanating warmth. Finally the system was pronounced in full working order and the men went home to Dorset. We have been basking ever since in the warmth that permeates every corner of our abode.

Meanwhile, Bethan and Robert were burgled, but that’s another story.


  1. I am pleased to read that the outer as well as the inner is now warm!

    Best wishes Isabel

  2. Oh, no! Burgled? Looking forward to "another story"!
    Meanwhile, am very glad you and Barry and the dogs and Winston are warm again. I can't imagine what we'd do if our furnace quit in mid-winter. We have VERY cold mid-winters, and no alternative heating except for the electric oven, around which Dick and Lindy and I would have to gather while strange men (and maybe our son-in-law because he's a paramedic) do bustly things in the cellar.
    How are you, otherwise?

  3. Very interesting post today. My husband happened to walk in the room and that old handy man was very interested in your photos.

  4. They were burgled? Horrible! Glad you are all warm again. I remember that song from an album my parents had. I think it was Tennessee Ernie Ford singing.

  5. Glad you're all warm again now. I can relate to this story. We had a new radiator installed, and some other work done that needed the electricity to be turned off, two weeks ago. Just when it was really, really cold outside. And since the heating wasn't working and we had no electricity for two days... even my bones felt cold. We have a fireplace with an open fire in the house, and I wanted to sit IN it. So yeah, I can really relate.

    We appreciate our luxurious life even more when we have 'simple' things like heating, electricity and running water taken away ;-)

  6. Thank you all:-) How easily we take our luxuries for granted.

  7. Devilish things when they do go wrong or get too old. Stay warm!

  8. Oooh I am glad you got it fixed! I remember cold bedrooms from my childhood too.

  9. I'm glad to hear you have your heat back and everyone is warm. At least you could get some heat from the log fire. We have a fireplace in case we lose power or the furnace goes out but our bedroom would be very cold. As I read your story about the fire I thought of an old Robert Service poem, The Cremation of Sam McGee.

    Burgled? That's not good.

  10. Hi Janice .. that sounds an efficient way of sorting a boiler out .. but anything like that is a saga isn't it - glad you're warm and toasty now. Excellent fuelling the workers got ..

    Oh dear - burglary doesn't sound so cheerful .. a real intrusion into life ..

    With thoughts - Hilary


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