Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Local control improves heating system

Somewhat late in the day we decided to have thermostats fitted to the central heating radiators. As thermally inefficient pensioners we’ve had the heating on all day this winter for the first time and solar gain in the living room had indicated the need for local control.

Once the system was drained the ‘stats were quickly fitted. We were not only quoted a very competitive price but on a tour of the house the plumber recommended we only needed to control nine of the twelve radiators. Avoid adding thermostats in places where the temperature varies widely (the bathroom, the kitchen) to prevent excessive valve action.

But my concern was the usage stratagem. Received wisdom says bedrooms could be cooler but the hell with that. One pleasure here has been to wake up into a warm room and walk, stripped to the waist, fitted carpets all the way, into the en suite bathroom, there to remove unneeded facial hair. Shaving benefits from amelioration. In any case it turns out thermostat practice is based on “suck it and see”.

Given a captive plumber I was able to ask the $64,000-dollar question: why are his peers so addicted to Stilson wrenches, those clumsy self-tightening adjustables that risk graunching the corners off nuts? Of course nuts concentric with piping deny them ring spanners but the main reason, reluctantly admitted, is tradition. I would welcome comment on this from Works Well’s US commentators.

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Plutarch said...

Graunching the corners of nuts. I think that I have been guilty of graunching the corners of this and that for most of my life, beginning perhaps with the Meccano set I had at the age of five. What a good word!
Stilson is not a term I knew though I expect I knew the wrenches. But my eye, as ever wandering, read "wenches", just now - a marginally more interesting concept.

Barrett Bonden said...

I have added a photo of a Stilson for educational purposes. Rotating the prominent thumbscrew (often an akward procedure) causes the jaws to open or close. The upper jaw is spring-loaded against the lower jaw, ie, the handle bit. Thus, provided both jaws are moderately tight against the object-to-be-rotated, the grip will increase as force is applied to the handle. This is my Stilson, bought according to a first principle of DIY: if you need a tool and can identify that tool, don't improvise, buy the damn tool. Given that my original post doesn't exactly elevate Stilsons, it would be useful if I could recall the situation that triggered its purchase. I can't. Suffice to say, I haven't used it in yonks.

"Graunching" Not mine, alas. First used in my hearing by my friend Richard, a veritable Rembrandt of the DIY world and dead this past decade from hateful motor neurone disease.

marja-leena said...

Our favourite feature on our thermostats is the programmable timer to set the heat back at night, then turn it on early enough to have a warm house, including the bathroom!

Nicely Very Unique said...

There is no excuse for stilsons in any aplication.They are the devils tool and cause of many skinned knuckles.
I have to pick up on the word "yonk".
This word was used by myself in the earshot of my physics teacher many moons ago where he engaged me in a pointless rage about using words that decribed a measurment of time that were not actully a measurement.
I found this a waste of my time and i thought his too,so i told him to f**k off,aparantly this also was no way to use the english language either and promptly got suspended.Those were the days.

Barrett Bonden said...

M-L: A very clever trick. However it indicates a significant difference between heating systems in the UK and in North America. Here, ours turn off completely at night. In Pennsylvania they roared on, unhindered by timers. Given the temperature outside on some occasions I wouldn't have had it any other way.

VNU: You can always pass on your Stilson opinion to a plumber but check beforehand that his knuckles aren't skinned. They may have got that way disciplining people who instructed him on what tools to carry.

I think any further reminiscences about your schooldays should carry the modern-day equivalent of an X-certificate.

Sir Hugh said...

From my experience the nuts never seem to equate to metric or Whitworth/BA sizes. I have often pondered this question and asked plumbers only to receive vague answers. I now feel prompted to do a bit more research on this.

I wonder if MY old physics master is still around?

Lucy said...

I find I often skim along the surface with these posts, but am amused at the tought of thermally inefficient pensioners (and the devil's tool...)

Relucent Reader said...

Graunching, great word, onomatopoetic with the sensation in the stomach when one does round off the corners on nuts.
I have one Stilson, about an 8-10"er in size, used it once, for a plumbing adjustment. A specialized tool;I suspect they round off fewer corners,properly adjusted. But wouldn't an appropriate sized adjustable wrench suffice?It would be less of a nuisance in tight spots too.