Installing a Fountain in Your Bedroom

Today was the first day that it felt cool enough to turn on the heat in the house. The thermostat claimed it was 62F, so we set the heater for 68 and turned the system to “run”. I went around and opened the radiators that would open and skipped the ones with frozen valves. The valve on the radiator in the master bedroom just spun around and around without moving, so I left it alone, hoping that it was broken in the “open” position.

I would like to note that our radiator system does not use steam to heat the radiators, but instead uses hot water. This detail is vitally important to the next part of this story.

A few hours later, M. called down to tell me that the radiator in the master bedroom was still ice cold. I went up and fiddled with the valve a bit, and upon noticing that it didn’t seem to be going up or down, which I’ve always assumed is what valves did as they opened or closed. So, feeling clever, I pulled the valve upwards as I turned it up. I then found myself standing straight up with the valve in my left hand, and a lovely seven foot high geyser of water coming straight up out of the radiator, me thinking, “Hmm, that’s just a bit unusual.”

I hurriedly jammed my thumb onto the open hole where the valve recently sat, yelling at M. to run and get some rags. After stopping the flow (the pressure in the system is only about 14PSI), I thought about how to restore valve A to orifice B without flooding the bedroom. I decided that a quick-change maneuver was in order, and held the valve knob and stem near the valve opening. I counted to ten, pulled my thumb off the opening, and jammed the valve stem back in as hard as I could–it stayed in place, but to be safe, I wrapped it down tightly with plastic wrap and tape. I made a mental note not to pull on any more radiator valves.

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