draining a cast iron radiator
Thursday, October 16 2014
Over at the Wall Street House, I'd brought a little homemade gizmo to hopefully catch the water from the radiator that I wanted to remove. The gizmo consisted of a piece of thick plastic sheeting with a thin hose leading away from its center. The idea was to position it as water-holding catchment beneath a nut on the radiator so that I could drain away the water that would come gurgling out when the nut was loosened. I arranged the plastic, ran the thin hose through a hole that had been drilled through the floor for a television cable, and led it to the basement sink. Ideally, no water would spill at all when I loosened that nut. Unfortunately, though, water did spill. A lot of it. It started coming out way too quickly, and I realized I first had to depressurize the system. And to hopefully keep water from flowing down from upstairs, I needed to close the valves to all the radiators up there. Also, most importantly, I needed to close the valve that resupplies water into it from the household water supply. The problem with this particular heating system is that there are no zones and no way to isolate the plumbing of the part of the system I was working on from the system more generally.
It turns out that it's rather hard to arrange a flat piece of plastic in a way that will catch and hold water. The sides kept flopping down and sending small tsunamis across the floor into the living room. I'd sponge them up but then another would happen. At some point I realized no water was actually going down my hose; to get that to work I had to cut it much shorter and suck on it. Eventually, after mopping up multiple big spills, I had a drainage system working. The amount of water in that radiator was enormous, coming to perhaps ten gallons, and I had to carefully control the amount glugging out so it matched the amount being siphoned away by the hose. Eventually the drainage stopped, suggesting that (happily) I wasn't also siphoning water from the upstairs radiators. Meanwhile, it was too moist outside for Eric to do his sanding, so he painted the glossy white over the primer I'd put on the baseboards. Later, after I'd managed to detach the pipe from the other side of the radiator, Eric helped me extract it from the hole in the closet wall. The only place to go with it was up the stairs a bit, and we left it diagonally on the stairs. It weighs at least 300 pounds, and I will need some sort of wheeled assistance to move it anywhere else.
I'd brought the dogs with me, which is always sort of a mistake. Eric's girlfriend had visited him and the traces from her little poofy dog had given Ramona an excuse to piss on the carpet, something I could tell she'd done because she wouldn't look me in the eye after I'd confronted her about it. (I'd asked Eleanor too, but she'd denied everything convincingly.)
Back at the house, Gretchen had gone down to the city for the night, so I could do things like drink booze, smoke pot (I barely have any left) and watch teevee. Oscar the cat got as snuggly as he has ever gotten by curling up on top of my feet. Having something so heavy and fluffy atop my toes felt great. I wouldn't, however, recommend watching a Frontline segment about brutal civil warfare while under the influence of marijuana. I kept having to look away as Frontline mercilessly played clips documenting atrocities carried about by Nigerian military forces in a brutal crackdown on Boko Haram that looked more like ethnic cleansing against Muslim communities. It was the best argument for Boko Haram I've seen to date.
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