Beastly Boiler


It’s a cold Monday in January, which means that the heat is out, and I’m huddled by the fire, waiting for Captain Idiot.

Actually, the date is insignificant. And the heating repair guy isn’t an idiot. I’m just sick of being a spectator in this tennis match: the heat goes out, (we schedule a repair, I babysit the house for its service call), then the boiler gets fixed. And then it dies a day later.

I blogged about this two months ago here, when we bought the new boiler. Immediately, we noticed a problem: a clanging cacophony that’s a nuisance during the day, and jarring and impossible to sleep through at night.

 Apparently, the clanging was a warning that failure was imminent. In the last 10 days, we’ve had to summon help last Friday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and last night.

The latest diagnosis: the auto-fill mechanism on the boiler is faulty and feeds water into the system, flooding the boiler and the pipes. (On one occasion, water spurted from the radiator vents. I discovered the puddles in the morning).

When the boiler is on its course toward overhydration, the clanging occurs as water and steam clash in the pipes.

Why wasn’t this a problem with our old boiler? Because that model had a manual fill — once a week we’d check the water level in a glass chamber, and top off as needed — and drain off the rusty/silty/sludgy liquid in a bucket.

This new heavy-duty, automated beast of a boiler is so powerful, it is forcing more silt and rust from the pipes. In other words, the boiler is not making a love connection with our old house.

Captain Idiot and crew are trying to amend the situation. The Captain just left after replacing the faulty part on the auto-fill. If that doesn’t work, the next step will be to disable the component entirely.

We hope that the boiler and house will find a way to peaceably coexist.

In the meantime, the 24-hour repair service is on speed dial and I’m thankful for our firewood supply, and for the dedicated service of our space heater brigade.


Most kids crowd around the TV; ours flock to the space heaters.

Break out the pots & pans


Nine o’clock last night was that “uh oh” moment. When the rain fell so hard, it obscured the satellite and blacked out the TV. And we realized that the roar outside wasn’t wind-related. It was from the force of the rain.

You can love an old farm house, but that house won’t love you back.

And affection doesn’t plug the porous leaks in worn out, wood siding. It certainly doesn’t change the direction of a storm… one that The Post said was fueled with circulation larger than “the mesocyclone of a typical supercell.”

What’s that in English? Approximately 5.2 inches of rain, delivered sideways, in mere hours.

Hurricane Sandy was the last time that we witnessed a similar event…. and since then, clapboard replacement has been all talk and no action.

As in 2012, last night’s rain permeated the north-west side of the house and dripped steadily from the ceiling in my office, the attic, and spots in the bathroom and spare bedroom.

Out came the pots, trash cans, plastic storage containers and towels. Some of the roaming drips were impossible to corral.

Even after the rain ceased, the scene was depressing: furniture shoved hastily out of the way, and a hodge-podge collection of buckets, scattered over several rooms.

I’ll think about that tomorrow, I thought in Scarlett O’Hara fashion, as I retired to bed.

But tomorrow is now today. And today’s forecast is foreboding.

Heavy rain from Joaquin is on the way.



Mud weary


Now that I’m done complaining about snow, it’s time to gripe about mud:

Thanks to snowmelt and rain, we are mired in shoe-sucking muck. In every direction.

It looks like we’re farming it — planting and raising mud as an agricultural product.

Certainly, the horses are doing their part, tilling the pasture and stamping out the last dregs of green.

Maisie is advertising our product, with dreadlocks clotting her belly and legs.

Muddy conditions have made an impression on our trash service; they won’t empty the dumpster, because our property is “inaccessible” at present time.

And that’s kind of ironic, because we’ve lost all semblance of a driveway/lawn division. Winter has been a vehicle free-for-all, judging from the wheel ruts browning the yard.

Earlier this week, mounds of unmelted snow put another loss in the “team grass” column.

That day, I was startled when the UPS truck flashed by my office window, trundling past its normal stopping point. By the time I realized the driver wasn’t our regular, he’d gone counter-clockwise over the snowy land between barn and house.

Stunned, I met the guy outside as he surveyed the truck’s loopy trail of mud and slush.

“This is a circular driveway, right?” he asked.

Well it is, now.



Photo note: I don’t do mud, so I pulled this image from the archives. Back in 2009 we had a thriving pothole population, but the driveway wasn’t up for debate.