Sunday, October 27, 2013

Me Fix Stuff Good

Fancying myself quite the handyman, I decided to bleed a radiator I hadn't bled before. Got my trusty radiator key, an empty yogurt container (Costco size), a couple of small towels. Same kit I used upstairs the other day, no problem.

I stuck the key in the valve and gave it a turn. Nothing. Gave it another turn. Still nothing.

Turns out the little drain spout thingie had been painted over. I did not know that. I kept turning the key, till water started spraying back out the keyhole. Under pressure, so it was coming out horizontally. Tough to catch in a yogurt container. Even so, the container was full in seconds. I yelled for Stacy. She emptied the container down the sink.

I tried to close the keyhole back up. Turned the key, turned, turned. No effect. Water. Big plastic bowl. Towels. Bucket. More water. Turned off the valve to the radiator. No help. Turned off the heat. No help. Kept turning the key. No effect. Water. Turning the key. Water. Turning the key. Water. Turning the freaking key.

Finally, we turned off all the water to the house. That helped. Water down to just a manageable trickle. (Yes, ideally, I would have turned off just the water to the boiler. But I spent the first forty-five years of my life in apartments. I'm as flummoxed by the maze of pipes in our basement as a desert nomad taking his first look at a Manhattan subway map.)

Watched a few youtubes, because that's how the world solves problems these days. Lots of videos showing how to bleed a radiator with a radiator key. Nothing on what to do when it goes horribly wrong and the water starts jetting out like a berserk dental tool.

Stacy remembered that maybe there was something solid in that first container of water down the sink, like a part. Aha. Made sense. Some little doohickey that filled the hole. That the key was supposed to turn. I had turned it too far and loosened it. The jet of water blew it out of the hole, into the yogurt container, now down the sink.


Called our favorite plumber. He was out of town, but he took our call. Told him what had happened. We needed, he said, a petcock valve. On a Sunday afternoon. We called Pleasants. On hold for a long time.

Then it occurred to me. The hole had threads. Screws have threads. Down to the basement for an assortment. The fifth one I tried did it. No more trickle.

Pleasants finally answered. No petcock valves. But their plumbing guy suggested we try to plug it.

Like, with a screw?

Water back on. Screw held. Heat back on to all the other radiators. Screw held.

Problem solved. And, sadly, I'm once again fancying myself quite the handyman.