The heat is on! (but first, the radiators flood the house)

The worst part about this whole thing is neither of us are handy in the least (one of us is learning though (totally not me)) and have never had to turn on a boiler before or really know what a pilot light is, so we kind of started at a disadvantage.

We do the first thing that we think makes sense – pull up the instruction manual. Which helps us locate the knob that turns the pilot light on, hooray!

The instructions are simple – turn on the pilot, turn on the electricity, turn on the thermostat.

Check. Check. Check.


Okay… We open the panel to see if we can locate the pilot light. No idea.

We perform all the instructions again, in forward and reverse order. What are we missing??

The whole time, we are bracing ourselves that we don’t make anything blow up. We turn knobs and quickly run for cover. We flip switches and hold our breaths.

And every time, nothing.

Finally I give in and text my contractor. It’s too cold for this. I tell him the pilot light isn’t turning on. He tries to talk me through it based on his boiler and I keep trying to tell him it’s different and the plumber needs to come by.

It’s Friday night.

I don’t know if I can even get a hold of them on Saturday, he texts. But if anything, I’ll come out.

That would be amazing, thank you!

I’m no plumber though.

But you know more than us! We are afraid we will make the whole thing explode!

He comes on Saturday afternoon. The first thing he asks is if the thermostat is working.

Well it’s not on.

What do you mean it’s not on? He runs upstairs and pulls the thermostat off the wall.

Oh. It needs batteries. I laugh. Well, now it makes sense that there was no display even when we switched it to heat.

We remedy that. Then our contractor gets to work on flipping all the same switches and turning all the same knobs as us.

I don’t even smell gas. Do you smell gas?

I put my nose near the ground and shake my head.

He then gets down and removes more panels to try and locate the elusive pilot light.

It’s there, he says. I’m going to try to light it.

Are you sure? They say you aren’t supposed to light it yourself.

Let’s give it a shot.

I bring him the longest matches we have in the house.


Wait, he pauses. Is the boiler on?

We all scurry to the light box. Nope. He flips that switch and two lights come on the boiler.


But still no gas.

He texts the plumber, who tells him those lights aren’t supposed to be on unless the water levels are too low. And if the water levels are too low, the machine has an auto shut off feature.

What do you mean water levels?

Okay so we get the water levels up and–

The pilot light clicks on!


We turn up the thermostat and stand by the radiators. They seem to be getting warm!

We thank our contractor, show him the door, and settle in.

About 20 minutes later, it doesn’t feel warmer.

We check the boiler again and the water level has dropped significantly. Weird. Do we have to leave it on?

We leave the water on to keep filling the tank. Yes, I’m sure you can see where this is going.

About 15 minutes later, I’m upstairs and my boyfriend yells that the basement radiator is 1

Leaking? More like spewing. It’s coming out of the knob and the little rounded cone thingy. And it doesn’t stop. In fact, it gets more spewy, until it becomes streamy. As in streaming out like a fountain. Projectile if you will.

photo 2

Okay we should turn the water off!

I run upstairs to the living room and hear rushing water.


Water is gushing out of a hole in the radiator!! It gushes, sputters, then stops a few times until it finally gives out.

I text my contractor in a flurry and try to take pictures of the hole without getting my phone soaked.
photo 3

I then hear the gushing sound very faintly in the distance, but I’m looking right at the radiator.

Then I realize I hear it coming from behind a door.

I gasp when I open the front door. The entryway radiator has not only been gushing dirty water, but gushing it all over our shoes!
photo 4

One of the shoes is half filled with water when I finally pull it out of the way. We throw what we can in the dryer and leave the rest on a towel in the living room to dry.

But as we walk to the dryer, we step in a puddle of water because the kitchen radiator has been expelling water the entire time! It’s still gushing water out of the same hole the other two were and all we can do is wait for it to finish.
photo 5

I text the tenants immediately and ask them if they opened their radiator valves. They had.

I dash upstairs in a panic.

Everything is dry. Oh. My. Gosh.

I quickly turn the valves to close and breathe a sigh of relief.

We clean up, throw the towels in the washer, and send the plumber pictures of the holes in the radiators and the aftermath. He is going to do his damnedest to get a plumber to come on Monday.

Which they do.

And it turns out that we shouldn’t have left the water on.

But also they didn’t install an auto feeder that would keep the water tank full. We could either keep refilling it manually or they said they would charge us $550 to install one.

But wait, we also find out that, guess what the holes that were gushing water were for? They were actually holes for a pretty critical component of the radiator. The piece that actually turns the water into steam. Yep. Totally missing.

(With some quick google image searching, I found out they are called air vents, basically these things:)

So to recap – these plumbers fucked up big time in every way, from the hot water flushing fiasco to the switched hot/cold pipes, and now to the radiators that would never radiate, and they want to charge us to put in something that they should have probably done in the first place.

I should start a list of people you should never call. Going to put these plumbers at the very top. Just a touch above the electricians.

And you thought you were going to run out of things to write about, my boyfriend quips.


3 thoughts on “The heat is on! (but first, the radiators flood the house)

  1. I was reading your blog and I see that you guys have had a lot of issues with repairs, etc. So, to help lighten the situation up, I thought you all would like to read this article about tales from real estate agents. Next time you are feeling down about a new repair, just be glad you aren’t these guys! haha 😀

    • Ha! Thank you for the link! I’m definitely glad that there was an end to our project, even if sometimes it felt like it wasn’t in sight. Loved the one-night-stand story. So bold of the buyer!

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