Pipes and Cast Iron and Burly Men, Oh My!
Today, nobody looks at a radiator with abject wonder. Nobody thinks, with an awestruck awareness: Wow! Radiators! They are so cool! So hip! So amazing!
No, we think of radiators as being charmingly old-fashioned.
But in 1894, when the Cross House was completed, radiators were a revolutionary advance. Since the beginning of time people used FIRE as a way to heat a home. Suddenly though, a home could be heated with…hot water. Wow! Geez! Zounds!
In the last century most technological advances have been superseded, and what was once A Wonder eventually became Passé. For example, in 1980 I vividly recall the miracle of using an IBM Selectric typewriter. The machine was a quantum advance over ALL previous typewriters, and priced accordingly.
Today? You can find these at yard sales. For $5. NOBODY wants or needs one.
The same cannot be said of radiators. While thought of as old-fashion, radiators are, if anything, more relevant today than they were a century ago. Why? because they are a highly energy-efficient way to heat a big old house, particularly with modern boilers.
The Cross House had a full radiator system when it was built in 1894. It still does today. Thank God. Even better, the previous owner, Bob Rodak, installed four new high-efficiency pulse boilers. Thank you, Bob!!!!
But the system has not been fully operational for a long time. Some radiators developed leaks and were disconnected decades ago. Some where disconnected for other reasons. Some were disconnected by me.
But now I have begun the process of having the radiator system FULLY restored.
If somebody had told me two years ago that I would get excited about radiators I would have thought: What?
To resurrect the Cross House radiator system, Modern Air has been brought in. Their main radiator guy is Travis, and it is a pleasure working with him. Travis LOVES pipes and cast-iron, and as he talks about esoteric/arcane aspects of the Cross House radiator system, I smile because, while I kinda sorta somewhat know what he is talking about, it does not really matter WHAT Travis is saying for it is simply an honor and joy to be around a true professional. There is no way that I, by myself, could restore the radiator system but there is not the slightest doubt that Travis and his cohorts can.
To watch these burley guys and their HUGE pipe wrenches and magical devices (to cut and thread cast-iron pipe) while they cut out corroded pipe, install new pipe, manhandle breathtakingly heavy radiators down two flights (that took FOUR men), is to watch Miracle Men at work.
Truly, my admiration is great. As the guys go about their work, I feel, well, all tingly inside. After they leave for the day I walk around the house and reverently admire their work.
My current house has forced-air heating/cooling. This is pretty much the standard today.
But as I get older, forced-air has proved a problem.
My eyes. The Very Dry Air, a by-product of forced-air, dries my eyes. My ever-older eyes. And this proves painful, ever more every year.
As such, moving into the Cross House, and its radiator system, is increasingly alluring.
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