Notes on a Boiler

As it turns out, there are some differences between a furnace and a boiler.  I’d thought all metal basement-dwelling heating units were called furnaces.  Not so! Mark, the very nice plumbing & heating man from MPB , visited me yesterday and brought me up to speed. I learned that I have a boiler that heats the water to 212 degrees and then sends steam up to the radiators.  I learned that I have to “key” my radiators twice a year to allow air to escape. ( So good thing I didn’t toss that random key I found under the radiator in the hallway because I think that’s THE KEY.)  I learned that I can’t just replace the prehistoric thermostat (where all the numbers are eroded and you have to guesstimate somewhere between 85–55) with a digital one from Home Depot.  I learned that my water heater isn’t up to code because it has a recalled part and is missing a dripline.  But after an hour, Mark gave my Republic Gyroscopic Balance a clean bill of health.  I felt like a proud parent. Let the happy boiler dance begin!

The best moment, though, was when Mark looked at me with that serious serviceman face and says “Do you know how to light the pilot light?” And I’m like, um, what?  So he says, “Just take off the faceplate and follow steps 1-4. It’s easy.” I’m nodding my head the whole time and trying to look really intentional and responsible.  But in my head I’m thinking it might be easy for you because you’re a heating specialist with know-how, a big truck, and that cool flashlight.  For people like me, dealing with a “faceplate” on an ancient boiler in a dark basement in the dead of winter can be a deal-breaker.  As if I’m ever going to mess with matches in the belly of the beast.


3 Responses to Notes on a Boiler

  1. retepsnave says:

    I’m curious what his reasons were for being unable to replace the old wall thermostat with a digital programmable one?

  2. housegirrl says:

    Umm…yeah. It involved the word “line”–but that’s all I remember! He’s coming back to install a dripline on the water heater, so I’ll ask him again about that!

  3. noah says:

    I too am curious as to why you can’t replace it. I have recently replaced my Republic Gyroscopic with one from the home depot and have seen no ill effects.

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