You never know when you might learn something new. It took a snowstorm and a pigtail to make me appreciate the surprises of life, although at the time the situation was troubling. With all the hype over last Friday's quick moving storm with prospects of
You never know when you might learn something new.
It took a snowstorm and a pigtail to make me appreciate the surprises of life, although at the time the situation was troubling.
With all the hype over last Friday’s quick moving storm with prospects of more than an inch of snow an hour, we were both up by 4 a.m. I expected to find whiteout conditions and a blanket covering the yard. That wasn’t the case.
What had they said, snow starting at 5 a.m.?
“It’s too early,” Carol said. But once you’re awake you’re aware, or at least the two of us were. Emails and computers always leave you with things to do. I checked on the news, glancing occasionally at the clock and the back porch for the first snowflakes. And then it came just as forecasted. I walked out just to get that feel of a good snowfall, not that I’d want that to be a regular occurrence. Ollie had no such inclination. He remained curled up in his crate, his head resting on his forelegs and eyes barely open.
Then there was the surprise and our focus shifted.
“I’m not hearing the furnace,” Carol announced. She was right. It wasn’t running. We both checked the thermostat. The temp was set at 70, but the digital thermometer that gave us indoor and outdoor readings said it was 60 inside. We nudged the thermostat up to 75. There was no customary click indicating the system was on.
Next was a visit to the basement. The big teal box – our source of heat – was inert. I checked the water gauge, thinking the automatic feed had failed as happened once and the unit was out of water. The glass tube was full. Maybe there was too much water? I drained a couple of gallons. Nothing happened.
Carol went through her address books hunting for Dave Potvin’s number. Dave installed the burner and is always there.
“I think we should wait until at least to 6,” I suggested. She tried at 6 and again at 7. No Dave. She left a message. The inside temperature was dropping. It was time to fire up the coal stove that hadn’t been used in more than a year. Fortunately, we had some kindling and a bag of coal and at least the kitchen was warming up.
Now with the snow really coming down, I made a run to Dave’s house. His truck was gone and the drive showed no signs of activity. “Maybe he is in Florida,” Carol suggested when I gave her the report.
Plan B was to call Riley Heating and Plumbing and that’s where the pigtail comes in.
Dave Palmer and his sidekick Andrew arrived before 11 and started troubleshooting. Indeed, the boiler had water, way too much water. Dave drained off about 30 gallons and then took off the cover of the control box to reveal a maze of wires. He disconnected and reconnected some to get the boiler running. Then he sought to isolate the source of the problem. He explained what he was doing and why he thought a switch activated by steam could be the culprit. He removed the cover to the switch and, by bypassing it, the boiler came on.
He pointed to a metal tube protruding from the boiler that lopped before attaching to the switch – the pigtail.
Next, he removed the pigtail and tried blowing through it. He couldn’t.
“Probably rust and gunk,” was the diagnosis. He tried clearing it with wire. Nothing. Andrew went out to the truck to get a new pigtail and in short order the radiators were warm. Dave and Andrew were off to repair a burst pipe at URI.
Dave Potvin called, but not from Florida. He had been up before 6 installing a new boiler.
And for me, what began as a vexing start to the day turned into a lesson on why pigtails are important.
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