Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Central heating dialogue

Our central heating system isn’t as young as it was, and is turning a little cranky.

It’s equipped with a sophisticated regulatory system, with sensors as well as a timer, so it can work out what the temperature is and compare it with what we reckon it ought to be for the time of day, and the day of the week. Sadly, it often seems to go through that highly intelligent process and then decide, “screw that for a game of soldiers, I feel like heating right now,” or, alternatively, “you think I should be pumping out heat? Hey, give me a break – it’s cold out there – imagine what you’re demanding of me.” So we have to open the windows in summer just to let the central heating out, and freeze in winter when it obstinately pretends that it’s time for the heating to idle a while.

This morning I woke up at a stupid time. I was downstairs making coffee at 4:30, and shivering in the frosty temperature. However, at first I hesitated to turn up the heating – it seemed somehow inappropriate, as though it was discourteous to demand that the heating get going so much earlier than its usual time of 6:00. Just because I couldn’t sleep, did I have a right to interrupting an ageing heating system’s much-needed rest?

Eventually, though, I decided I could stand it no longer. I whipped over to the thermostat and moved the setting up from 14 to 21. I did it as quickly as possible, so I could get away before the system objected. 

And I was clearly right to expect resentment from it. Because nothing happened. I was standing right by the boiler, and it remained quiet. No pleasant roaring sound indicating that it was getting to work to warm me up. It clearly had absolutely no intention of reacting to my unreasonable demands. Eventually, I became so concerned that I decided there must be something the matter.

“It’s got to be set to hot water only. It Wouldn’t take this long otherwise.”

So I opened the flap that gives access to the dial. It was firmly set to both hot water and central heating. There was no excuse for its lack of action.

You're on, aren't you?
So come on
And I’d barely had time to think that before the heating started up.

It was clearly feeling sullen. It had imagined it could get away with not coming on, that I might not notice. But now, caught out, it was saying, “OK, OK, I’m getting to work. But, hey, what the heck are you doing up at this time of day? You expect me to start at 6:00, which is quite bad enough, and now you want heating at 4:30 too? What is the matter with you?”

I slunk away into the bathroom and ran myself a bath. Now, I like my baths hot. I’d barely finished the first two articles in my Guardian before I decided the water was getting too cool. I turned the hot tap on.

Stone cold water flowed out of it. That was OK: it can take a short while before it starts to come through hot. But time went on and on, and all the tap produced was barely liquid ice. Eventually, I turned it off.

A little sheepishly. Because in the background, I could hear the boiler roaring away merrily. It was seemingly telling me, “you asked for heat. I’m giving you heat – you can hear me, can’t you? Now you want hot water as well. Have you no compassion, no empathy? You can bloody well wait. At least, you know you’ll be getting out of the bath into a pleasantly heated bathroom.”

I didn’t say anything in reply. It seemed more judicious just to accept the system’s view, rather than insist on mine. It wasn’t that tough a hardship.

Besides – arguing with my own central heating system? It and I know it might make sense. Anyone else, however, might think I was going round the bend.

5 comments:

Wilfred Andrews said...

You're absolutely right that central heating systems do have a personality all of their own! Mine has what I call a 'hissy fit' from time to time. Sometimes it knocks the heating on when it's turned off and just the hot water's supposed to be on. The plumber says the boiler's from 1995! Time for a new one perhaps?

Wilfred Andrews @ LB Plumbing and Heating

Lane Pemberton said...

This was entertaining because it is so true. My central heating system has a very lazy personality. He just decides to start working at half capacity whenever he wants to. We have asked repairman to come out and figure it out but they do say the only solution is to get a new one because there is no actual problem.

Lane Pemberton @ Metcalfe Heating & Air Conditioning

Shayne Gustafson said...

We must have the same brand of central heating. Mine often makes a horrible noise, like the Tin Man falling down a flight of stairs. It heats up but pays no attention to the temperature it is actually supposed to be at. I swear sometimes it is like waking up on the sun.

Shayne Gustafson @ Berico Heating and Air

David Beeson said...

It does seem to me that there is a special logic that applies to central heating systems and which is completely opaque to mere humans. It's rather like Douglas Adams Bistromathics, the special and completely incomprehensible branch of arithmetic that tends to apply whenever the bill is being examined in an Italian restaurant...

Bharath Gopalan said...

Great and informative post. thank you for sharing this information with us.
central heating