Except yesterday, when an hour or so after we got home from work, I found out why the house was still remarkably chilly: the central heating hadn't gone on. Mr Life tried restarting the boiler but it responded only for a few moments.
At that point, I'd have rung the Gas Board (with whom we have a service contract) - though how the technician would have got down the snow-bound street, I'm not sure. Anyway, Mr Life is made of sterner stuff. He looked up the blurb on the boiler on the internet and diagnosed the problem: our condensate pipe was frozen.
(Not too exciting for you, this post, is it? I personally don't think much of "condensate" as a word. However, I digress.)
This is our newish, startlingly expensive boiler, I'd like to point out. Our old boiler didn't have a condensate pipe so this naturally never froze. But new boilers do - a fine example of progress not necessarily being a good thing. It's a pipe which takes condensation from the boiler, goes out through the roof and drips it outside down into the gutter.
Or in this case, takes the condensation outside and freezes solid so that the boiler grinds to a halt.
It was PERISHING COLD outside but Mr Life, pausing only to put on his SuperHub suit (the version with long underwear) got the stepladder out of the garage, forced it down into the snow and wobbled up it with a watering can full of hot water - as advised by the internet. I thought to myself: this'll never work. However, handmaidenlike, I refilled the can while Mr Life shovelled snow from round the pipe (and on to himself) and poured the water. And after a while the pipe went "glug glug" and the boiler started up and lo, there was heat.
And there still is. Hooray for Mr Life.
However, I am mentally composing a letter to the managing director of the boiler company. It's the coldest winter for 45 years or something, but still. Whose brilliant idea was this condensate pipe and why did they have to invent a new word for it, anyway?
The weather is thawing a bit today, but the Everests of snow will take forever to melt and our roads are still hard-packed with ice and not driveable. And more snow is forecast for the weekend.
I really must do some Christmas shopping one of these days.