Saturday, December 12, 2009

Fire and brimstone sound pretty good right now

posted Mon, 17 Jan 2005

It is still cold in my house. I cranked the thermostat this morning, but then discovered when I returned from my walk (bad idea when it’s only 23 degrees) that not only had all the flames gone out in the boiler but so had the pilot light. Which, technically, I suppose is included in “all the flames.”

I have never lit the pilot for the boiler before. I am not comfortable with fire. I took to heart the admonishment that only I could prevent forest fires and have never been one to play with matches. I don’t like fire. It’s not my friend.

This is the book. Note that I found it on an “antique” website. I swoon for men who can fix things, too.

I gingerly waved a lit match in the direction of what appeared to be a pilot light thingy. Nothing happened. I tried again, but got spooked at the idea of holding a match next to two dozen gas jets.

I looked in the old home repair book my father had bequeathed to me. It’s the “Better Homes and Garden’s Handyman’s Book,” published in the late 1950s.

I figured I had a better shot of finding information about radiator heating systems in this book than in my new Home Depot home repair book. All the Home Depot book tells you about radiators is how to paint around them.

But apparently, radiator heat was not common enough even in 1957 for it to merit mention in the book.

Then I tried calling the guy who installed the new pump last summer. I couldn’t find where I had filed his card and the invoice. They weren’t in “receipts” or “house stuff” or “electricity.” I finally found them in the “appliances/warranties” folder. But when I called him, I only got an answering machine.

I had to resort to asking my shoe repair guy, whom I had gone to see about my purse, how I should light the pilot light. He drew me a little diagram and explained that there should be something to depress (besides me, thinking of $6,000 for a new boiler) for several seconds while I light the pilot.

I must have looked so pathetic and so incompetent that he offered to come to my house and light it for me if I couldn’t figure it out by the time he closed his shop for the day.

Stop! It wasn’t like that at all. He is this gruff old Italian guy who has had this shoe repair business since his dad died. I always call him “Mr” shoe repair guy. He must have felt sorry for me because he couldn’t fix my purse, either.

I finally got the pilot lit and turned the thermostat up almost to 11. But when I returned from the movies, my house was still cold. Guess what? If you leave the little door open in the boiler, the flames will get blown out. I didn’t realize the sirocco reached into my basement, but there you go.

I re-lit, closed the door and crossed my fingers. The flames have stayed lit and the radiators have warmed, but they are still not hot. I don’t know what’s going on, but I don’t think it’s the boiler. The flames are jumping, so I would think the boiler is doing its part.

Oy gevalt. Now I have to track down a repairman, then take time off from work to wait for him at my house. First the purse, now this. Was I someone really awful in a past life or what?

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