by Chetan Kunté  


Shower is running cold and it wakes you up like no alarm has ever managed. We are approaching summer, but it’s still freezing.

I check the boiler. AGPO Ferroli Econoforte HMA32 is a fancy setup with an unfamiliar reading on display: E.01. I am able to guess that it’s an error code about which, wife and I have no idea. I search for the manual in the attic and hallelujah, it’s in Dutch. No time for translation because it’s 8:30am and I am running late for work.

Wife later calls the AGPO hotline. The other end, I’m told, is friendly, says it’s a simple fix but can’t explain the how-to in English. We decide not to try anything foolish, because the system looks like a black-box, unconventional, Dutch labels, et al. Instead, we call our official maintenance. They promise to get somebody to call us for an appointment. So here we are.

In the end nobody calls. Wife continues to phone the official maintenance. The phone rings and then auto-redirects to voice-mail. This process is now on a loop. By afternoon, the entire home temperature has dropped by another 2°C. We haven’t heard from anyone yet and it is now evening. We’re now worried about the temperature drop at night, and that kids may not be able to sleep well.

It’s now 7 in the evening.

I translate the error code from Dutch to English. It’s a “water intake error.” Not enough pressure apparently. The needle needs to be in the green zone — above 1 bar. We mention it to our neighbour. He comes up, looks at the set-up and says that the sump needs water, adding that it could also be potentially clogged. Together we unscrew those odd-looking closure valves and pump water into the sump, which looks like an LPG gas cylinder, and which is why wife and I didn’t touch it in the first place. With the refill the code changes automatically and the boiler’s familiar hum is back. We’re relieved; thank Eric for saving us from cold. All is well again.

It happens about twice a year we’re told, possibly due to differential temperatures leading to vaporization of water from the sump. We now know what to do the next time around.