Wednesday, April 13, 2005


To heat the water for the house we use a caldaia, which heats the water on demand, rather than holding the hot water in a tank. About two weeks ago we noticed that one end of the radiator in the living room was stone cold while the rest of it was hot. Never having had radiators before, we were both clueless. Since radiators are very common here, I decided to post a question on the ExPats in Italy website.

Within a short time I had an answer…..apparently air had gotten into the line, and the radiators needed to be “bled”…the air needed to be released. After a few more questions I knew what to do and how to do it, and we bled the radiator in the living room and checked all the others. Simple…once you know the trick!

A week or so later I discovered that we didn’t have any hot water. I wanted to take a nice hot bath, but the water just never got warm. The next morning everything seemed to be back to normal, so we just sort of wrote it off as one of those weird unexplainable things.

From time to time I noticed that a radiator or two had developed a cold spot, so we bled them some more. It seemed so simple! Until Saturday night, when the thermostat came on, but the radiators never got hot! What had happened? They had gotten hot earlier in the day, and we couldn’t figure out what had changed!

Luckily I had just recently noticed that a large envelope full of information was lying on top of the caldaia. Even more amazing was the fact that there were instructions in English! We both read and re-read the manual. We looked at the diagrams, which seemed to be completely unrelated to anything we saw on the caldaia itself. We discovered that instruction manuals in Italy are just as bad as instruction manuals in the states. Crap!

The next morning we looked at the instructions again. We studied the caldaia itself. Art took off the front panel. We saw that one of the gauges was sitting at zero, and we knew this wasn’t’ right. We thought this was a gauge for gas pressure, so we were even more confused since we knew we had gas for the stove.

We called Belinda and Giacomo to tell them that we wouldn’t be able to come for lunch the next day. No sense waiting until the last minute to cancel…we knew we’d be waiting for someone to service the caldaia….if they even showed up! Of course first we’d have to get a hold of Mauro to find out who to call…the paperwork we had gave no indication of the company or person responsible for the installation and servicing.

Belinda told us that we should try to call our plumber Fabio. They had used him too, and we all knew what a sweetheart he is. She assured me that it wouldn’t be a problem to call him on a Sunday morning. This is definitely one of the advantages of living in a small town!

Art called Fabio but only got his answering machine. He left a brief message, but we didn’t really expect that we would hear from him. I suggested that Art walk down to the church. I’m not sure what time mass starts, but very often we see the men milling around outside the church while the women and kids are inside. Maybe he’d fined Fabio hanging out with the guys.

Of course Fabio wasn’t there, but Art stopped in the bar to see if anyone there knew Fabio’s home number. The number we had called was his cell phone number, the one he used for business. Adamo was in the bar, and he asked someone else if they knew the number. Another person just looked it up in the phone book…something we couldn’t do since we didn’t know his last name.

Then someone suggested that Art walk down to the newsstand that Fabio’s wife owns. They said she’d be open to sell the newspaper…something we never would have guessed! Unfortunately Fabio’s wife said that he was off somewhere practicing his music. She did tell Art that she’d give him our message as soon as she spoke to him. That was about all we could hope for. At least we could boil water on the stove to wash dishes…and us, if necessary!

I guess it was an hour or so later when the doorbell rang. Guess who?! Fabio! By the time Art answered the door, Fabio was already heading into the backyard, and within two minutes we had hot water. A miracle worker!

Here’s what the problem was, and what the solution was: When we bled the radiators, we must have let the valve open too long, causing the water pressure to drop in the caldaia. It must build back up over time, which is why we’d had hot water the morning after I couldn’t get any hot water. Buried underneath the caldaia was a pressure relief valve….and all we had to do was to bleed the air with this valve and the water pressure was restored! The gauge we had assumed was for gas pressure was really for water pressure. The worst part of it was that you would have to lie on the ground to find this valve, and that this valve wasn’t mentioned anywhere in the instruction manual. Geez!!! What are these manufacturers thinking when they print such useless pieces of unintelligible crap?!

Fabio was on his way in less than ten minutes. He wouldn’t accept any money, and waved aside our apologies for calling him on a Sunday morning. Once again… of the advantages of living in a small town!

Today Art took the paperwork for the caldaia to Mauro’s office to show him that the documents hadn’t been filled out, and to find out the name of the technician we’d need to call for the annual servicing we were supposed to be having. When Art showed Mauro that the form indicating the date of installation hadn’t been filled in, Mauro said, “Why would you want to do that? As soon as you fill in a date, your two year warranty will start from that day!” I’m pretty sure that the caldaia people won’t see the situation that way, but at least we can have it serviced regularly from now on.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home