Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Penny Wise and Pound Foolish

I try to be wise in what I'm doing, to pay attention to what's happening, to plan ahead and foresee future needs. I try to hope for the best and plan for the worst, but like everybody else, I'm human.

Have you ever done something stupid that you regret? Like leaving the window open overnight, having the rain come in and ruin something. Or looking at a map while driving and accidentally running into something. Or having that one drink too many and doing something foolish. Something that you really should have known better, but you had a momentary lapse of reason (to paraphrase a Pink Floyd song).

In the midst of dealing with our boiler and our radiator pipes, we had several days where only certain radiators were warming up, so I took the time to really learn the pipes of the house; which ones were the hot ones, which ones were the cold ones, where the shut off valves, where the pressure tank was, where the spigot to drain the lines was, etc. In the course of this, I saw one long run of copper pipes that fed only the sun room.

The sun room sits away from the house and is glass on three sides. The glass windows are the vintage 1921 windows, which means that they are horribly inefficient. There is no basement under the sun room. It sits above a shallow foundation and has a tile floor that is always cold. The sun room is on its own radiator heating zone, with a separate thermostat. The coldest the thermostat goes is 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The thermostat does not have an off setting.

The sun room could be a four season porch, as it has baseboard radiators throughout. Heating that little room though would be expensive, so I traced the pipes back to the shut off valves and shut off the water to the sun room radiators. This had the other advantage of making it easier to troubleshoot the radiators in the main part of the house that weren't warming up.

This weekend I went into the sun room for the first time in several weeks and noticed that the water in the radiators froze and burst some of them. I should have known this was going to happen (water + cold weather + pipes = burst pipes. Duh!) The worst part is that my desire to save us a few bucks is going to cost us a lot more money to get the radiators repaired. I don't know yet what the cost will be, but what a bummer.



ShoNuff said...

That sucks. If you're replacing stuff maybe you can put in a drain valve so in the future you can shut it off in the house and then drain the water. Then maybe save money without bursting pipes?

Mr. Kluges said...

Yeah - it's a good idea. Right now there are three zones in the house - one for the front of the house, one for the back and one for the sun room. Only one has a drain valve. What's really embarrassing/frustrating is that the sun room is the one with the drain valve. I could have prevented the whole thing if my brain would have been working.

Allknowingjen said...

Oh no! I hate that kicking yourself feeling. I haven't done this particular one, but I've been there. Let's just say, I am not an electrician.