May 21, 2007

Pressure drop

Shower is running cold, and it wakes you up like no alarm has ever managed, which is what happened to me when I stepped in this morning. 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 clue. I search for the manual lying around somewhere in the attic, and hallelujah, it’s in Dutch. No time for translation, because it’s 8:30am, and I’m running late for work. My daughter is going to be late for school too, and she would have to register late again at the front desk today.

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 very well in English. We decide not to try anything foolish, because the system looks like a black-box, unconventional, Dutch labels, manuals, et al. Instead, we call our official maintenance. They promise to get somebody to call us for an appointment. So here we are, possessed by people obsessed with appointments.

Nobody calls. Wife continues to phone the official maintenance. The phone rings and then auto-redirects to voicemail. This process is now on a loop. By afternoon, the entire home temperature has dropped by another 2°C, with the chill factor increasing by the hour. We haven’t heard from anyone yet, and it is now evening. We are now worried about the temperature drop at night. We worry that our kids may not be able to sleep well.

It’s now 7 in the evening.

I translate the error code from Dutch to English using Google Translate and it says it’s “a water intake error.” Not enough pressure, apparently. The needle needs to be in the green zone — above 1.0bar. We mention it to our neighbor. He comes up, looks at the setup and tells me 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, boiler’s familiar sound is back on. 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.