Learning Uruguay

Every day brings ????

Keeping warm at night

Posted by urufish on April 28, 2007

Our new house was built with radiators fed by a woodfired boiler.  Over the years it changed to coal and then gasoil.  This year, we changed it to a natural gas, heat exchanger  for both hot water and central heating.  The original rads were 80 years old but like the Timex commercial, still ticking.  We added modern, aluminum radiators to heat the 3rd floor. 

With the cool nights, we decided it was time to get it going.  We called the company that installed it and after a few missed appointments, they showed up this morning.  There were 3 or 4 of them, crawling around the house, moving things around and looking very intense.  Mid day, we started to hear strange noises coming from the rads and a short while later, my wife told me she felt some warm air coming from the rad next to her computer.  Success!!! 

Shortly before 4pm, the owner proclaimed that everything was done, except they couldn’t add the electric element to the water heater (backup in case Bolivia (or Argentina) cuts off gas to Uruguay, and simutaneously, doesn’t shut down electricity from the country’s main dam).  They said if they installed it, that would void the warranty.  I believed them because from personal experience, if you change the end of the wire on a an applicance, to fit the one of a dozen different kind of a/c plugs in this country, there goes your warranty.  The country’s distributor had to install the element to maintain the warranty.   So that’s to happen on Monday (Uruguayese for Wednesday). 

When I finished watering the lawn, (another story), we decided to check out the radiators.  First challenge was to figure out how to use the thermostats.  We had ‘smart’ thermostats in Toronto but I had them pulled out the first time we went to use them.  We are used to, and prefer, the ones you set the temperature and there’s an on/off switch and an AC/Heat switch.  The ones we have here are even more complicated than the ones we pitched back home.  But considering the cost of energy, and the fact we have grown to like sleeping in the cold, we decided to give these ‘computerized’ thermostats a try. 

Well, either I am mentally challenged, (which is possible after a year out of the office), or they dont work the way the manual says they’re supposed to.  The technician set them for 21 degs (Celcius – remember we’re in a metric country), 7/24.  We’re dressed in sweaters today so we wanted to lower it to 19.  The manual says push the hold button, the word ‘hold’ comes  up on the LCD, then push the temperature button up or down, which I did to 18.  At that point, the system will hold the 18 degrees indefinitely.  I felt quite proud of myself, because I’m the kind of person who never reads manuals.  My philosophy is if you need a manual to explain something, it’s too complicated and you’ll need to consult the manual every time you use it.   That’s the same reason the clock in my car is always an hour off for 6 months of the year. 

My proud period didn’t last very long.  15 minutes later, I noticed the boiler was still going.  In fact, no matter what temperature you lower the system to, it maintains 21 degrees.  Maybe it has decided 21 degs is the right temperature for older people and for our safety and benefit, it wont allow us to lower it? 

I sent a text message to the architect and told him to deal with it Monday.  Now we’re sitting here writing this post and something else is whacky.  The aluminum rads sound like something between Niagara Falls Jr. and a babbling brook.  I vaguely recall noises like that when I was a pre-schooler and we had steam heat.  I’ve now sent two text messages. 

It’s weird but sitting here at 21 degrees feels hot.  Maybe I’m just mad. 

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One Response to “Keeping warm at night”

  1. urufish said

    Following up with the resolution. Believe it or not, BOTH thermostats were toast. I guess they crossed wires when they hooked up the system and fried both. New thermostats work just fine.
    One thing puzzles me. What kind of person would need 8 different schedules per day? And even if you lived a life where you were in and out 8 times, would it be consistant enough to rely on the schedule for heating comfort? Or maybe, I’m genetically disorganized and dont know how normal people live.

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