Thursday, December 09, 2010

Mr Life saves the day again

Things are very quiet with the children gone. Tidy. Easy. But dull.

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.

16 comments:

Molly said...

What a knight! Glad to hear you're no longer perishing from the cold!

Dragonfly Dreams said...

What a gentleman your husband is! Hope you are warm and snug now :-)

Thimbleanna said...

Yeah, I'm not buying that condensate word either -- it just sounds wrong. Your whole story made me chuckle. Mostly at the vision of you. The Handmaiden. Mr. Life is indeed a hero. And it does indeed seem that appliance companies aren't as good as they used to be. Nothing lasts like it used to!

Karen said...

Almost exactly similar to what happened to me, but it was this past summer when the central air conditioner was running. My furnace (electric) sits in a closet upstairs over the laundry room which is off the kitchen. I came downstairs one morning to get something out of the laundry room and opened the door to water dripping through the ceiling. Same thing as with your boiler - the condensation line for the air conditioner had backed up through the furnace and leaked over the condensation pan to my laundry room ceiling.

I hate electric heat on the other hand; it never gets you warm enough. I don't have another option, though.

Lucille said...

This is extremely interesting to me as we are in the process of being convinced that we need an expensive new condensing boiler and there was much talk about where the condensate should go. Our 25 year old boiler is soldiering on meanwhile. It couldn't be more basic (or huge and rattling) but it doesn't let us down, only the pump does. I'm glad you've got the flighty new thing going again.

persiflage said...

What a hero Mr Life is. and it makes you wonder about the idiot who designed such a system, when it is supposed to keep you warm when it is freezing cold. Not to go out on a sympathy strike!
I do so admire people who can read and understand manuals and work out what to do. Bravo Mr Life.

Peter CS said...

'Condensate' is a long-established part of the technical vocabulary. I think you'll find that it came in with steam engines, maybe 200 years ago or so. The reason for your having such a pipe is so that some of the heat you previously sent out to warm up the globe is now being used to warm your house ... well, most of the time. So it does save money. But maybe the pipe should be insulated?

(Your ever-loving brother)

rachel said...

Two people I know with these new-fangled super-duper boilers have become adept at the boiling water trick. Not quite what you paid for though, is it!

Loth said...

You are the fourth person I know to have that particular boiler problem over the past week. The other three, however, did not have a Mr Life to call their own, and they have had to wait for various plumbers and engineers to get "parts". I wonder if they realise that the "part" they need is a bloke up a ladder with a watering can of hot water?

Gina E. said...

I've been reading this post and comments with interest and curiosity. What is a boiler? Don't you have gas or electric fires over there? Mr Life and my MOTH both have that uniquely male attribute of being able to work things out and fix them without resorting to expensive tradesmen. Aren't we lucky?

Jane said...

Well done, Mr Life. It was a great problem around here last year - we had an item on the local news telling people how to solve the problem even! I've a feeling that you cannot any longer have a non-condensing boiler fitted, so I don't know what will happen if we ever have to change as our boiler is in the garage and the outlet is about 14 foot up from the ground level. Next door had their washing machine freeze inside their attached garage last week!

Anonymous said...

In Canada, where pipes freeze all the time, you can buy foam pipe insulation that wraps around your pipes. If that's not good enough, there's heat tape, which has an electrical wire that wraps around the pipe which you then plug in to an outlet in the wintertime. Either of these might work for you. Good luck, Connie in Canada.

herhimnbryn said...

Does he ride a white charger? What's he like at getting possums out of a roof space?

dianne said...

your brother is a wealth of information, isn't he?!? i always learn something when i read his comments ... and i always do a search or two - just to see if he's yanking your chain (like MY brother would do)

herhimnbryn said...

I have posted your image request over at my place.

Marcheline said...

Egads, that was brilliant. With words like "condensate" and "handmaidenlike" you turned a boring heating problem into a funny story! Your side comments and digressions are what give the whole thing flavor - excellent stuff!