Sunday, October 7, 2012

Rituals of the changing year

It’s officially fall, I just flushed a few gallons of water out of the single-pipe steam heating system in preparation for the “first firing” of the year, later tonight. Less rust that I was expecting, perhaps dumping the entire boiler after shutdown this spring helped.

The actual boiler and heating plant is a fairly modern natural-gas-fired job, but the piping and radiators are vintage to the house or the expansions depending on where they are. I have discovered I prefer steam radiators to forced-air heating, actually. The piping is a mad Rube Goldberg (what the British call a ‘spanner’*) maze that forces anyone walking in the basement to duck from time to time or suffer a concussion (and, season permitting, a very nasty contact burn). I don’t understand it, and neither did the plumber I had look at it before the first winter here, but it works well enough.

Much better than the electrical, which if we’re still in the mood to be British I would say is definitely Lucasian in origin; while it’s not the original knob-and-tube (and I checked very thoroughly for that, as did the appraiser for the bank and the one for the house insurance firm), it’s still a bit of a period piece(just that the period would appear to be the late sixties or early seventies), and the supply is insufficient to the demands. This is now scheduled to be rectified.

(* I am fully aware of Heath Robinson’s contributions to mechanical and electrical gimcrackery, thanks)

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