Tuesday, February 06, 2007


As many others have recently remarked, it's cold. Really cold.

I wanted to say so, too, but given that Columbia never dipped below 0, I thought I hardly had much to complain about, compared to the temps in Urbana-Champaign, Detroit, and such.

Except that, friends, I was very cold. Cold deep down. And, thanks to my ever helpful colleague, R, I can now tell you why I was cold. My boiler was broken.

See, I came home late Saturday afternoon, a day of a high in the teens, a day that I spent on campus, attending a workshop. And C greeted me at the door in his coat. It's cold! he insisted. Well, I thought, of course it's cold. It's in the teens outside and we live in an old inefficient house. Of course it's cold.

But when I saw that the temperature in the living room was reading 50 degrees, I did wonder. So I went into the laundry room to have a look at the ancient boiler. It was hot. I could see the pilot light. I could hear it pumping. So I just assumed it couldn't keep up with the extreme temperatures.

My good colleague R, however, upon hearing about this the next day, urged me to call in a repair person. Oh, I said, I think it's just these severely cold days. I think this house has almost no insulation. Still, she urged me on.

And then, suddenly struck with a fear of hypothermia, I took my temperature. It was 94, which, I believe, is indeed hypothermia (though it only begins to do its damage if it lasts for a few hours).

So I called the next morning. But the boiler man (as I affectionately refer to him) couldn't come yesterday. This morning, after another excrutiating night of very little sleep (and heaps of cats all over me), I walked outside and actually found the outside more pleasant than the inside. I knew that was a bad sign. (It's true, it did get to 50 today, but this morning it was 20 or lower.)

Finally, this afternoon the boiler man came and found that, yes, I had a bad part. No water was circulating. And now it's fixed, and now my living room has just topped 60. Whew. Cause this 50 today, I'm told, is a fluke. It's getting cold again.

At least now I can sleep. Good night, all.


John Walter said...

I'm glad you got your boiler fixed!

The Dingo (did not eat your baby) said...

It is funny that this post comes right after your "understatement/overstatement" post because, I think I pretty much said Donna, that's crazy, when I heard about your boiler issues. I am glad what might have sounded like an overstatement (I actually think I said that not having heat was unacceptable really but one could have substituted "that's carzy") was in fact, not an overstatement. I hope today brings you comfort and warmth!

Jenny said...

I've had that happen on the flip side, in a bad Texas summer with a wonky a/c. I kept thinking, "Sure is hot in here." But I could hear the a/c running, so I figured it was all in my head. When I saw the inside temp was pushing 90, however, I knew something was wrong.

I remember mostly worrying about my cat (not being an outdoor kitty). I kept washing her with cold washcloths. She hated it. Turns out this cat loves the heat.

jeff said...

Ooooh. At least it's just a part. When I rented, that happened in our building. Even though it was March by then, the building was still freezing.

The Dingo (did not eat your baby) said...

Yeah I remember a particularly hot summer when I did not have a/c and I had my first cat, "The Chicken." It was like 98 degrees with 98% humidity and I kept dumping cold water on her (I thought cats could get heat stroke and hey I was dumping cold water on myself to keep cool)-- which she also hated. Eventually, she went to live with my neighbor Jason.... sigh... she now rules the house there and is fat, lazy, and very happy... and dry.

dhawhee said...

R! Whatta hero!

anne said...

so -- given my past experiences with boilers and heaters and getting them fixed (as in: this past fall it took 3 visits within 7 days from the fixit-guy to get our water heater fixed, the non-working water heater discovered in each case by one of us standing naked in front of the shower, shivering while waiting for the water to heat so we could clean the respective self for an important meeting) I am wondering whether and hoping that your boiler boiled along dependably all through the night, the next day, and into today... (which, here, has warmed to 12!).