Radiators- Radiator Keys

Nora Bombay, my formerly VA friend, is now a Chicago friend. I called her up to see how she was doing and she told me it was 60F in her apartment. She has radiators, but as far as I know this is her first year living with radiators.
I asked if the radiators had been bled. She didn’t know. The problem is when there is more air than water in the radiators, you won’t get much heat. As part of my HVAC service the technician bled all my radiators. Previously, that was something I did every year, and I used radiator keys and pliers (don’t use pliers if you can help it!).
You can get radiator keys online at ACE Hardware. I got mine from some Maryland plumbing supply place we had to hunt down, no one should have to suffer through that. I’m quite sure they can get you some radiator keys at Logan or 5th Street Hardware, as they are an ACE store and there are still several houses around here with radiators.
Anyway, once you have your keys there is something else important to have when bleeding the radiators, a cup. The cup is needed to catch the first couple of teaspoons of hot water shooting/dribbling out. You sit the cup under the valve, turn it with the key slowly till you hear a hissing sound, or water comes out. When you get water, turn it closed.

Old House Journal-How to take care of your radiator (warning there is a pop-up.

Radiator humindifiers and misc

I have no cool end of the year reflections. I’m not in the mood to look back at 2007, but rather plow forward into 2008. No this is a post about something dear to my heart this Winter, my beloved radiators.
I saw on the New York Times website an article about radiator humidifers. There are these things you can hang on your radiator, that you fill with water, or some scented mix. Neat.
I had been drying my sweaters on my radiators, but after everything has been moved around and spiffed up, I haven’t carried on the practice and the air in the house got a tad dry. Moreso on the top floor. On the 1st floor, there are some small trees I brought in from outside that are up on or really close to a heat source and I’m guessing the water from the soil is keeping the house decently moisturized. That and the dryer, that I can vent inside, when I need the heat. Then there are other plants, that are probably aiding in the effort. Upstairs, I’ve just been keeping a glass of water near the radiator in a spot I’m less likely to knock it over. Before, I used to wake up horribly dry, my throat, skin, horribly, disgustingly, dry.

Filing under misc, there is a whole load of things I did not comment on or post that were passed on to me, and I’m just going to clean them out of my in-box now. I’m getting terribly lazy about posting announcements, and when there are other bloggers on the other side of NJ Ave, I don’t feel compelled. Of course, I’ve probably dropped the ball on TC stuff as well.
On the plus side and reflecting the changes I want to make, the ‘thing’ that I was waiting for has come to pass and now I can talk about certain items that are available to the public. And hear tell 2008 may see the National Archives bringing back its pre-2006 research room hours, so I can actually do some decent research, giving me some other choices besides Library of Congress and the Washingtonia collection at the MLK. Now if some other places could just have good weekend hours, that would be lovely.

Radiator bits and etc

Radiator bits
There’s a discussion on one of the listservs regarding radiators regarding a part. The radiator supply valve I gather… anyway, the beautiful internets can come to the rescue. I was looking for radiator keys and an air vent thing and got them from a hardware store on-line. Also when the plumbers hooked my radiators back up, they seemed to have had an ample supply of radiator bits, completely replacing the caked with 10 layers of paint parts. So though the radiator system is not widely used in the US, they aren’t rare, so there is information out there about parts and maintenance.
Also, things have been getting busy and as I’m waiting for certain things to fall into place to allow me to start yacking about bits of Shaw & DC history I haven’t been and probably won’t be posting much. Also I’m thinking of switching over to Moveable Type, which may or may not mean shutting down the Blogger version.
The census project chugs slowly along as I do the tedious task of data clean up.

Construction and Renovation Safety pt2

Picking up from Part 1 we’ve had some problems, not a lot, but some in the area where there have been some construction related crimes. Not too long ago someone reported a break in on the TC discussion board at a house under construction.
Well here’s my experience and what I’ve heard from others.
Tell your contractor to protect his stuff
Before construction started on the house I told David, the contractor, that there had been some incidences of tools being stolen in the area from job sites. So David got these huge metal box lockers with big fat nasty looking chains that sat in the middle of the house for most of the renovation. The only thing that I know of that got stolen was a saw from another job they were doing on the block.
Be aware what permits do
A friend over in Bloomingdale who was having a major renovation in his basement and some minor-ish work in the main house woke to the sound of someone trying to beat down his door. It seems those permits you have to keep up attract some criminals. You can’t take them down so you just have to be aware that they advertise that the house is under construction.
Just because its heavy doesn’t mean it won’t get stolen
I’d been offered a replacement part for a broiler, but when the person offering went to retrieve said item it was gone. Nathan & BL had a nice fat radiator sitting on their back porch for the longest, but one day, it up and grew legs. Those radiator things are heavy, get 2-4 guys to lift it heavy. I’ve also been told of air conditioner whateverthingies (big heavy things that go on the roof) that was placed there by a crane, being stolen.
and lastly….
Beware of ladders
This endangers the safety of your house when it is not under construction. Tall ladders left around by construction guys and not locked or chained up can be used to break into other peoples houses. This will make you unpopular.

Renovation 2007: Radiators

I am keeping my radiators. I love my radiators.
During this renovation the radiators have been moved around and are no longer sitting right up on the walls. I figured this was an excellent time to remove the several layers of paint on them. So I spent an afternoon stripping the paint off of them with a heat gun and a metal scrapper.
I know the top layer of paint was good old latex paint, as it was the same color of paint that covered the whole house. However, that bottom layer, the layer above the rust colored metal…. I don’t know what the heck that was, and it was a pain to get off. The latex bubbled a little but the paint under it just had to be burned off. Which then made me wonder if taking a flaming torch to the blasted thing would make my job easier. However, the risk of burning down the house, greater.
While I was scraping I was wondering about the history of the radiators in the house. Wondering when were they put in, were they painted then? Were they new or some old used ones the landlord dug up from somewhere? Then who put on the first coat of paint, and did that paint have lead? That’s the question that made me hunt the job site for a facial mask.

My love my radiators

Please oh wonderful radiator heat never, never leave me again. I didn’t know how good I had until you left me. This house is not a home without you. I promise to treat you right this time. I will have you serviced every year, even if it means having some plumber talk down to me because I’m a woman. ‘Cause you are worth it.
For the past two mornings I have woken up to a hot bathrobe and towel. I’ve been able to dry my thick tights, socks and sweaters on the radiators, filling the room with that Downy fabric softner smell. My nose isn’t drying out anymore. I can leave the house with warmed gloves. Life is good again.