I am suffering broken sleep. I get home, have some food, nod off for a few hours, wake up in the middle of the night and then get another few hours before it’s time to get up. I’m getting enough sleep, just not all at once. Makes life a little strange. Looks like I have one more week of this double-shift stuff – just enough time to get used to it before it stops.

Saturday isn’t so bad. I have one shift starting at 1 pm and then Sunday is a recovery day. Recovery from the week, and recovery from Saturday night’s likely (almost certain – okay, certainly certain) whisky excess. Then on Monday it starts again. The damn job was supposed to be part time. As it is, I might as well take in a bloody camp bed.

To add to my blogging crash, the central heating boiler has died. Great. Just as the weather turns properly cold. These modern houses have no fireplaces thanks to the bastard Green cretins so when the heating dies, you die. Being out for most of the day looks less bad under the circumstances.

I have a couple of fan heaters, they are running pretty much all the time (set to ‘don’t let it freeze’ when I’m not in or asleep) and balls to the expense and triple balls with knobs on to the environment. I’d rather find myself back in debt than find myself dead. Global warming? If I can do my bit to hasten that, count me in. I think it needs to increase by at least ten degrees and if sea level goes up by 50 metres I’m still above it anyway – and I’ll have a sea view. Sounds like a good deal to me. As for the cheeldren, we’d all be better off if most of them were drowned at birth or at least retrospectively aborted as soon as they express any interest in becoming MPs or Greens. The intelligent ones will move to higher ground, the scum floating at the shallow end of the gene pool will consider ‘higher ground’ to be the top floor of the tower block. It’s natural selection, which is at least a lot fairer than eugenics. Nobody is making the decision, you make your own decision and live or die by it. Chaos? Yes, but chaos is fair. Eugenics is someone else deciding what you should be. Chaotic natural selection is you deciding for yourself, and dealing with the consequences.

The friendly neighbourhood plumber (evening visits, cash sale)  reckons the boiler’s problem is the fan that extracts fumes from the boiler – it’s broken and if that doesn’t work, the boiler won’t switch on. Sounds reasonable. If there is no extraction, the boiler will fill the house with deadly fumes so you end up warm and dead instead of cold and dead. He’s trying to find a replacement, which is considerably cheaper than buying a new boiler.

He told me, with a pained expression, that it might cost as much as £200. I could have laughed. I was expecting to have to pay for an entire new boiler and pumps and control system – enough to wreck the efforts I have made to pay down the mortgage over the years. “Do you want to go ahead?” he said, while standing in my garage where the brass monkeys sing soprano. “Oh, I think so,” I said. “Just fix the bloody thing and I’ll worry about paying if I don’t die of cold,” I thought. It’s best not to look too nonchalant at a quote from anyone, that just gives them the nod to increase the cost.

Just think – If I hadn’t had a model railway in my attic, I might not have been equipped with fan heaters. There’s no other form of heating up there and you can get brain freeze just poking your head through the hatch. Loft insulation is great when you’re below the insulation but above it…

I think my innate geekery just saved my life.

Or at least my brass monkey bits.


35 thoughts on “Hiatus

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    • I looked at oil radiators today, oddly enough, but they were too heavy to carry home. They have the advantage that they don’t make noise and also that they don’t dry out the air to the point where your eyes peel. Next time I have a lift to the shops, I’ll get one. The little ones (500W) were only £20.


      • Local Kebabs-R-Us has two of those things. Plus pizza ovens, deep fryers, everything. They are happy to sell fish and chips, pakora and chips, scampi and poppadums, any combination of any foods from anywhere. They even do a tandoori pizza. No pork products, naturally, but literally everything else. Even burgers, with or without horse. It’s the best place locally to get a proper onion bhaji. Unlike supermarket ones, they actually taste of onion.

        So if I were to get a halogen heater and a rotating spit, I could heat the house and cook a slab of meat at the same time…


    • Fan heaters are horribly expensive to run, but funerals cost more. One of the Smoky-Drinkies has a halogen heater and it’s never, ever on full blast. He won;t be any help in finding one – I don’t think he’s ever bought anything brand new.


  2. That’s exactly what happened to our boiler in Jan 2008. Boilers always fail in January in the northern hemisphere: the GreeNazis have leaned on the manufacturers to design this in, or “we’ll set the government onto you…nice company you’ve got there – shame if anything were to happen to it now…”


    • You ascribe to malice what can fairly be blamed on incompetence. In this case lowest-cost engineering. Isn’t it more likely to be cheap parts wearing out when they undergo extended use during the cold snaps?


      • Probably neither malice nor incompetence. This boiler is around 15 years old, and gets a lot of use here in the North. Especially with the recent crappy summers and the harsh winters a few years back.

        I think it just wore out.


  3. Check out polyphasic sleep. You might find it interesting. You might find it a load of rubbish.

    We had a boiler breakdown one bitter cold February a few years back. I live with my sister and we huddled together in one room with a fan heater. It got us through until the boiler was replaced but eventually caught fire. I have certainly learnt the value of having plenty of thick warm clothes available in the winter.


  4. The fan packing up is quite common. As they run in the hot exhaust gases from combustion the bearings eventually dry out and seize up. No fan-no ignition as the fan operates before the lighting sequence kicks in.
    As you have gas, it might be worth having a gas fire installed in one room. you don’t need a chimney for some models, info available on the net. A portable calor gas heater is useful as well. This is a better long term solution, because if we start to have electricity cuts you will lose the CH and electric back up will be useless. If your cooker/hob is electric, look at getting some form of alternative cooking provision too.
    It pays to be prepared. It is much easier and safer for TPTB to cut electricity for areas of the country, than gas, as there are lots of gas appliances with pilot lights which won’t relight when the gas supply is restored.
    Be prepared. Ypu never know what our wonderful Government will come up with next.


  5. You can’t buy an efficient boiler these days. Like cars they have so many bits of crap attached to them to squeeze the last drop of “efficiency” they break down so frequently there’s more fuel is burnt by the repair man:s van than is saved by the boiler. Green fraud.


  6. Being the role-model, trend-setter, fashion-icon that you are (seriously, I’m not taking the Michael – well maybe a bit) I think you should invest in one of these for such instances:


    I can imagine you sitting, toiling ceaselessly over the ‘N’ gauge in a yellow one for some reason (although when I imagine you nipping to the shops or work in it there are a lot of people pointing/laughing/throwing things at you as well. Can’t think why?!?).

    Just remember the maxim – ‘If it’s stupid an it works, it isn’t stupid’


  7. Stay warm Leg! I’ve had a few tastes of heating problems over the years with my 60 year old boiler and it’s no fun sitting around bundled up in sweaters and an overcoat all day in your house. The local gas company offers repair insurance for $100/year but this year has been tight enough financially that I’m winging it and keeping my fingers firmly crossed.

    A couple of tricks from experience:

    1) Check the net for the day’s forecast before you head out to work. If it’s not actually going significantly below freezing just leave your heaters off and then let them blast during the time when you’re actually home: the furniture won’t care if it’s 2 degrees Celsius when you’re not there, and the place will warm up to livable within 20 minutes or so near your fan heaters when you return.

    2) Zone Heat (1): While you’ve got this problem, zone off a warm zone where you sleep/eat/compute/shower/poop and use doors/hanging-blankets/whatever to keep the heat in there. As long as you’re not heating with your gas fobs, a kerosene heater, or a BBQ grill you’re not likely to breathe or smoke up all your oxygen. Remember: even the Ultra-Greenie homes usually can’t insulate so well that they don’t get at least half an air change per hour. :>

    3) Zone Heat (2): Even when your boiler is working, you can save a lot of expense by not really heating those areas of the house where you don’t spend time.

    4) Call up an old flame and whimper into the phone that you need her to come over and warm you up. (Better alternative: suggest that you go over and warm HER up! Titillate her first with stories about the big locomotive roaring into the tunnel…)

    5) Call the health dept and tell them that your boiler is off and they better fix it or you’ll be forced to heat your house by burning thousands of cigarettes.

    6) Think warm thoughts — Deb Arnott and Stan Glantz etc being burned at the stake, etc.

    7) Dig a very deep hole in your basement and take advantage of geothermal energy. Careful though, they tried that once at a place called Pompeii and it didn’t work out too well.

    8) Remember to breathe. A major cause of death is not breathing. Very high correlation, very likely causal. Run experiments on Antismokers to confirm.

    9) Call the police and tell them you’re a terrorist and that you’re locked in your house with big huge bloody bomb. They’ll come and shine lots of warm spotlights on your home and keep you warm. When Spring comes, explain that it was a misunderstanding: that you’d said you were an agriculturalist and you were locked in your house with a big blooming bulb.

    10) Invite some MPs over to give speeches in your living room. That’ll give you enough hot air to melt the polar ice caps.

    Michael, the ever helpful…


    • I think I’ll skip no. 10. They’ve already spouted enough hot air to register on climatology models.

      I’ve wondered about geothermal energy. All I have to do is lift the flooring and get a very long drill.


  8. So the stuff that boilers pump out is poisonous? I thought it was just steam!
    My plan for this weekend was to run some ducting from the outside vent to the rabbit hutch to keep the rabbits warm.
    Bad idea?


    • You’d have to ask someone who knows about those things whether it’s okay to add ducting to the flue. However, you could run that ducting through the hutch and have it vent somewhere away from the rabbits. They’d still get some warmth from the duct pipe, I think.

      It’s the incomplete combustion products from the flames that cause problems. Mostly carbon monoxide, I believe.


        • Run it under the cage, or through a pipe they can’t chew through?

          Actually, the risk of leaks is probably going to make it an unviable idea anyway. You don’t want to have ‘Here lies Bucko, the bastard who gassed our rabbits’ added to your gravestone.

          Maybe some kind of Heath Robinson heat exchanger made out of old fridge parts, so the heated exhaust doesn’t actually pass through the hutch… No, neighbours can get quite stroppy about that sort of thing.


  9. If it’s of any interest, I’ve only turned on my heating once this year (not at all last year). Right now, with snow on the ground outside, my heating is off, and windows are slightly open. Room temperature is currently 11 degrees C.

    Good thing my fur-lined Nordic slippers arrived yesterday. They’re what the Nords wear in, er, Nordia, I believe.


  10. The fan operating is detected by a vacuum switch. If the fan doesn’t run, and there is no pressure difference between ambient and the burner intake, the start sequence is inhibited


  11. Sigh…I am so non P.C. chez moi is heated by a Wiessman fuel oil industrial boiler, which is situated in the workshop which our accomodation is built into, I service it every year, which is very easy and costs about a tenner in parts, average life is 40 years, 21 to go, I love how dirty it is……..and how much warmth it puts into the radiators.


  12. Leg – Watch those fan heaters if they 3Kw – which they normally are – running 2 is 6 Kw per hour at a typical 13p/Kw an hour rate = 78p PER HOUR!


    • Mine are old 2 kW and once the room is up to a reasonable temp, they go down to 1 KW and I set the thermostat very low. They are expensive to run, yes, but then so is gas heating… and that’s been off for two days.


  13. Pingback: Staying Home | Frank Davis

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