Anyway, the vacation was good, and the trip home was pretty much uneventful. But since I've been home, it has been unfun. I got off the plane to ~20F temperatures. Welcome home! Damn that was a shock to the system.
So I got home, turned the heat up to 68F (from 50F) and started unpacking. I'm up in my room, and the steam pipes are making their usual clatter and bang sounds as they heat up. But after a while I notice a loud hissing sound. The radiators always hissed a bit, so I kept unpacking. But it seeped into my brain after a while that the hissing wasn't just loud, it was REALLY FREAKING LOUD! There was a rocket going off downstairs, at least it sounded like it. So I came out of my room and when I got to the top landing I could see into the living room (cathedral ceiling) and one of the baseboard radiators was geysering steam and water all over! SHIT! So I ran down and looked at the vent, thinking it got wedged wide open somehow.
These vents are little metal cylinders with a slit on one side and a slider that allows you to open and close it, to regulate the flow of steam - a bit. Well, I noticed the steam wasn't coming out of the slit - it was shooting right out of the top of the cylinder. The normally *solid* top. It had blown apart, and it was now just a hollow tube on the end of the radiator, not limiting anything.
So I ran around the furniture and boxes (I will unpack everything, someday) to the steam valve on the other end. I had to yank the cover off the baseboard to get at it, and then closed it as far as it would go. That wasn't 100%, but close to it, so it was reduced to mild hissing and spitting. Then I checked out the damage - the carpet was soaked, everything in the area was dripping wet. There is a glass topped table right next to the vent, and it was raining under the table because the steam hit the 50F glass and condensed immediately. The phone books and some other stuff were under there - they were soaked. Well, I got some towels and mopped things up as best I could.
Monday I went to work and called the heating company and got a service call scheduled for Tuesday around noon. OK. I also discovered that, despite having a service contract, it was going to be about $150 flat fee just for the visit, plus parts - but I get a discount on parts. Yippee.
Monday got worse. John, the person who has been in ops the longest, asked me if we could talk in private. I knew that that meant. Yeah - while I was away a job offer landed in his lap unexpectedly - much closer to his home, and for quite a bit more money. He hadn't decided yet, but I knew what the answer was - and he decided today. So I'm losing the person with the most experience, who has been in the group longer than I have, who knows the systems better than anyone else here, and who setup a number of them himself. I think it is a great opportunity for him, and he is a great guy and a fantastic worker, so he'll do well. It just sucks all kinds of ass to be losing him.
Tuesday the heating guy came and only had standard radiator vents on the truck, not the baseboard vents (they're not the same), so he had to run out to get one of those. Once that was fixed, he checked out the boiler for the root cause. He'd never see one destruct like that before, nor had the guy at the supply company where he got the new valve. Obviously something was wrong. So he checked the boiler out, and the pressure gage was so old it was frozen, so he had to swap that out to get a reading.
Most home steam systems run at about .5 pounds of pressure, maybe one pound. Mine was running at eight pounds of pressure. Those vents are rated for up to ten. Well, guess we know why it blew apart then, eh? So the pressure control switch on my boiler was, obviously, shot. I had the option of not replacing it - but that would mean I'd probably blow another vent at some point. Not much of an option. Well, that part costs over $300. *sigh* So, new pressure control switch, new vent, labor... I paid over $500 to get it all fixed. I'm so happy. At least know I know that all the banging and hissing I used to have was not normal, the system runs much quieter now and the vents hardly vent at all. But the thermodynamics of the system have changed, so the old adjustments are off and last night my room hit 75 while the front room downstairs, where the thermostat is, was 68. So I need to re-adjust everything.
The best part? We're replacing the entire system with forced hot air and central air conditioning this summer anyway. So that money was just to make it work the rest of the season. *sigh* The joys of owning a home.
And all day today I haven't been feeling well. I think the nachos I had at 99 last night, while yummy, didn't agree with me. I hadn't eaten all day (thought the heating visit would be fast and I'd get lunch on the way to work - it took several hours and I ended up just staying home and working there) so maybe all the cheese, salsa, and jalapeños on an empty stomach wasn't so bright...
So, I'd really like to just go back on vacation for a week, can I have a do-over? (Maybe go back to EPCOT and ask Becky to that dinner...)