Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Just Grate

My home has a heat pump and forced hot air as its heating source. The vents for the heat are in the floor. Everyone knows where to stand when they need to have their toes warmed quickly. This brings to mind the older homes that I lived in the past.

I’ve never lived in a new home. This home is probably the youngest having been built in 1925 but I have added ne modern additions since, so it is kind of new. However most of the houses I’ve lived in previously were originally built with coal furnaces. There was a coal bin in every basement, which was a room with outside access like a window. The coal delivery truck would come and chute your bin full and a couple times a day you would have to shovel coal into the furnace, bank the flame by dampering it down. Every so often you’d have to haul your ashes and clinkers.

I don’t recall the last time I saw someone getting a coal delivery, probably not since the late 50. Most of those coal stoves had been replaced or converted to gas or oil furnaces, as was the last house I lived in. There was a large three- foot square heating grate in the floor. On cold mornings one would stand there before venturing to any other room in the house. If your home was a two story house there would be a grate on a ceiling somewhere above the larger floor grate. This was the heat source for the next floor.

One house I owned had an upstairs kitchen and the heat source was a cooking wood stove that was converted to gas. The fire box on the side was sufficient to heat the entire place.

I have to say that the designers of these conversion kits were pretty bright. These heaters were able to keep going for many years. They were pretty efficient as well. Everyone thinks that when they upgrade to the new and modern heating system that they will be saving a lot of money. Each time I went to a modern furnace to replace a refitted model my consumption usually went up by at least 30%.

I have to admit that I sometimes miss the romantic notion of standing on the heating grate in the morning, just as a lizard will sit on a rock until the sun warms its core temperature before it goes along with its day.


Blogger Beth said...

Wish I had vents or heating grates on the floor – rads just don’t provide that direct flow of warmth - although they are great for drying mittens, scarves, hats, etc.

(love the post title...)

5:16 AM  
Blogger JustRex said...

It just goes to show that "new" doesn't necessarily mean "improved". Back then appliances were designed by people who made appliances and they wanted them to work well so people would buy their appliances. Now they are made by subsidiaries of the utility companies to produce revenue. Pity.

5:36 AM  
Blogger Trop said...

We had a coal fired boiler with radiators in every room. I recall coming in from a long day of sledding, lying on the floor, and propping my frozen feet on the radiator to warm them up.

I also recall receiving a most memorable ass-whooping from my mother because I left the basement door open during a coal delivery, leaving coal dust over everything. I was innocent, BTW.

7:37 AM  
Blogger richpix said...

This house, built in the mid 50s, has radiant floor heat. Now it's all the rage as a new green alternative. It's great to wake up to toasty warm floors, and also nice when you step out of the shower on a cold winter day.

Last time I lived in a house with radiators it was one which had been converted to small apartments. The elderly owners lived downstairs and had control of the heat. Whenever they felt a chill they would crank the temperature dial all the way up and leave it that way until they felt comfortable. Of course all the heat rose upstairs so I ended up with the windows cracked open in the dead of winter.

One spring day they had the heat blasting in the morning when the day's high was predicted in the 90s. I ended up running the A/C to counteract the blazing radiator. Talk about energy inefficiency.

Veriword: imbling--instant messages laden with emoticons

8:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And also great for listening in to conversations your parents had...


entack : noun. also adj. That really painful feeling you get that shoots up your butthole for no particular reason.

2:16 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

Most of the houses I lived in as a kid had wood stoves. I remember when we lived in Oysterville, my friend and I out side with the axe, chopping up kindling to start a fire in the woodstove at her house. Now, I can't imagine I'll give my daughter free reign with an axe when she's 10 or 11!

My aunts house though had one of those big grates in the middle of the dining room, I remember going to visit and my sister and my cousins and I all standing there to warm our toes...

2:17 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

As a kid, I used to sit on the kitchen floor to get dressed every morning. :)

8:45 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Beth, there is nothing like the instant warmth one can attain over a grate.

Darev, true, however the heat sometimes never made it into some rooms with a central grate.

Trop, oh that coal dust was a bitch. It was still in the basement of one of the houses I had 30 years after the gas conversion.

Rich, maybe that's how they did their cooking.

Moose, or the tenants.

Moma,I guess if chopping wood were a daily reality the kids would be accustomed to it and you'd feel better about it and appreciate the help from the kids doing it. And if they ever had an accident they'd learn quickly how not to have another one.

Any, Ahhhh, I bet that was pretty cute.

5:49 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

It just occured to me that my comment wasn't fully expressed. ROFL.....I got dressed on the kitchen floor every morning because the heating grate was on the floor!

hee hee....

11:34 AM  

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