Keeping Warm On Bitter Cold Nights


(Photo: Our Home’s Broken Boiler On Sunday Night)

People tend to take modern conveniences for granted — until they lose them. That was the case with the heat in our home last Saturday night through Monday, amidst one of the coldest cold-spells to hit the Northeast.

On Sunday morning, I noticed our home — a drafty Dutch colonial built in 1918 — was much cooler than usual. A strong sun warmed the house into late morning. But as the rays dwindled in late afternoon, so did the temperature inside our home. Soon it was in the high fifties in our living room, and the night had barely begun. My dad was over for dinner, so he helped me troubleshoot. Turns out the pilot flame in our boiler went out. We tried to reset it, but were unsuccessful.

Our HVAC friend Brian Palmer took our call that Sunday night and worked with us remotely for two hours to try to get the boiler working. We discovered that the thermocouple burnt out and needed to be replaced. By then, it was late Sunday night — not much we could do. He gave us instructions to prevent water pipes from freezing during the night, and rearranged his schedule to see us first thing in the morning. I built a fire in our fireplace to keep the house luke warm, and the entire family (Laura, the two babies and me) retreated to the master bedroom with a portable electric heater. While the temperature in our bedroom dropped to the high fifties, we were fine with several layers of blankets. However, other parts of the house, like our sun room, dropped into the high thirties.

The next morning, after eating breakfast in our winter coats, Brian the HVAC guy arrived.  He replaced the thermocouple, thawed a few pipes, and calibrated the water flow to all of our radiators. Moreover, he explained every single thing he was doing in plain English, while demystifying our home’s entire hot-water heating system. Within 90 minutes, we were back in business — warm, relieved and confident. To express my appreciation for his great service, I sent him on his way with a Yeungling holiday beer sampler case.

Lesson one: It’s important to be prepared in case you lose basic modern-day conveniences, such as electricity, gas, running water or, in our case, central heating. There’s so much we all take for granted, and you can lose it anytime. Are you prepared?

Lesson two: It’s important to invest early in relationships with people who can help you when you lose such necessities of modern life. How strong is your safety net?

Lesson three: If you live in Southwestern Connecticut or Westchester County, New York and need a great heating and air-conditioning contractor, I highly recommend Brian Palmer. His number is (203) 348-0548.

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Published by Max Kalehoff

Father, sailor and marketing executive.

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  1. you think thats good service. that man put you in a very bad situation. he should of had a thermocouple on the truck and came out on sunday. If he came out sunday he would have saved you the added labor of  having to thaw out pipes. but iam sure he was warm sunday night. 

  2. He took our call on a late Sunday night. There was not a total emergency, so we agreed best to wait until morning. He showed up early and fixed the issue. We also were warm thanks to our fireplace and a space heater. But thanks for your concern.  🙂

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