Grandma's boogedy boiler

The first cold snap of the season has hit the mountains, bringing with it snow, the need for jackets and the kicking on of the heating system. In our house, that means it's time to brace ourselves for another season with the boogedy boiler.

I love my house. We bought it two years ago after having lived in the same basic tri-level for 20 years, and one of the main draws of the place was that it was clearly an ideal grandma and grandpa house. We didn't even have grandkids at the time of purchase, but Jim and I knew little ones (and big ones) would love to explore the many nooks and crannies inside and the secret (overgrown!) garden outside and that they'd look forward to spending time with Grandma and Grandpa, if for no other reason than the wild and wacky home in which we lived.

So, to put it mildly, we love our house ... everything but the heating system. I absolutely HATE our heating system. We have a boiler, and if you've never lived with a boiler, be thankful for what you're missing.

We first moved here in the winter so we were introduced right away to the clanging and banging of our home-heating contraption that looked like something straight out of Willie Wonka's factory. The noise was so alarming that we had a heating company look at it for us -- three or four times in the first couple months! It was brand new, thanks to the red-flagging of the old boiler the week before we closed on the house, but I still envisioned explosions that would not only ruin our new home but take our lives in the middle of the night.

Again and again the heating guys assured us that it's safe, that boilers just take a little getting used to, that they add personality and character to the home.

Well, our boiler has multiple personalities, a few of which aren't too pleasant to be sharing space with.

Because our house is relatively large, there are five "zones" for the boiler, each zone taking turns coming on at different times to warm different areas of the home. Three of the personalities zones are pretty quiet and their heat cycles go unnoticed. And when the boiler kicks on in the fourth zone -- which covers the downstairs family room where we watch TV -- it likes to pretend it's a massive military jet taking off from our rooftop but we've learned to accommodate it, muting movies and conversation at times as we wait for the jet to be in full flight and out of hearing distance.

But it's the fifth zone, the one that covers the study just below our bedroom, that freaks me out the most ... every night ... while I'm falling asleep. This is the zone where the boiler's worst personality makes its presence known.

Each night as I finish reading, set my book aside on the nightstand and settle in under the covers, it starts. There's a bit of a rumbling, a wheezy, heavy, asthmatic monster-like breathing sound ... that gets louder ... and louder ... and LOUDER. "I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house down! Mwahahahahahaha...!" it threatens ... and drones on ... and on ... for several minutes. Then comes the loud, "Boogedy, boogedy, boogedy! Bang. Bang! Clang, clang. Bang. BANG!! click."

Just like that, the boogedy boiler stops. Instantly. Just as I'm reaching near hysteria and considering waking Jim (who doesn't even notice!) to shout that he HAS TO go see what's happening with the boiler, there's a simple "click" and it's quiet. And I breathe easy ... and I think I must be crazy for worrying that my house is going to explode when all the expert HVAC guys have told me it's nothing to worry about. Things are quiet ... and I start to fall asleep.

Then Mr. Boogedy Boiler decides to warm things up a bit again, and the whole show starts over. And I hold my breath and long for hot summer nights when my only complaint is that air-conditioning sure would be nice.

And I think about what a good thing it is that the grandkids will likely spend more time at Grandma and Grandpa's house during the hot and sweaty nights of summer -- considering summer vacations and all -- than they will in the winter, when Grandma's boogedy boiler would surely scare the holy bejeezus out of them!

(And yes, my post is a little late this morning. I'm tired! I didn't sleep well ... for obvious reasons.)