DENVER — Let's get this out of the way - I live in Capitol Hill in an old building. My landlord told me it was built in the 1960s. This means a few things. First off, it means I've got a now-unusable dumb waiter and a weird plinth on the wall in my hallway for what I assume used to be a rotary phone.
It also means my apartment is heated via radiators. There are five radiator hookups in my third (also top) floor apartment but only three are connected to any spiraling metal object. My dining room and living room radiator hookups are just sticking out of the floor.
It's quirky. I like it - as a millennial, I like to imagine what it was like having rotary phones on the wall and a dumb waiter... though I have no idea what purpose it might've served.
I thought I'd like the radiators.
Oh, how wrong I was.
Not even a little bit. Picture me as the dad from "A Christmas Story" - although thankfully the boiler isn't my responsibility (always tip your supers, folks). Basically, the radiators at my place work like this: whenever someone in one of the building's 22 units calls the super and asks for heat, he cranks on the system. It keeps the stairways and hallways warm in winter - and for the most part, I don't mind.
It even keeps the bathroom warm, since there's a pipe that goes through there making sure it's never cold in there.
And, as we all know, heat rises, so, for the most part, I never have to even turn on the living room radiator - nor does my roommate have to turn hers on in her room.
But I have a 25-pound AC window unit in my room I'm hesitant to fiddle with for fear of it falling into the alley below and onto a parked car (this time a la Adam Sandler in "Happy Gilmore"). So, my room gets a little chilly at night and I need to work my radiator to get some heat.
My landlord warned me: it's loud.
And boy, oh, boy when it turns on is it loud. It's the kind of sound you imagine you'd hear in a horror movie. Anyone who grew up or currently fiddles with a radiator could easily relate. It knocks, it shakes, it groans, it yells. It gets startingly hot (that's the part I like).
But radiators also leak. And maybe it's just my radiator (it's not), but I was encouraged to put something under its drain nozzle. So I've got an old quart-sized glass pitcher I put under there. Took me a few nights to position the thing correctly.
I have hardwood floors. I love my hardwood floors. Part of why I live where I live. And now, folks, my apartment is old. Not as old as some, but its floors have been through a lot - especially the flooring near the radiator. At first, I had no idea why.
The water. There's so much water. I don't know if it's because I'm the last unit height-wise to get the water or what... but it regularly - just overnight - overflows my container. Doesn't matter how much I turn the darn thing - be it a quarter-turn open or ALL the way open - water is a-flowing.
My coworker - who used to live in Cap Hill and blames his radiator for part of the reason he moved way - said he'd have to put towels down just to mitigate the overflow. I just wake up in the morning with a puddle of water across the room and then immediately panic.
Let's pause for a quick look at what I imagine my radiator to be doing when it overflows:
Obviously, I can fix this. I've been working on it - bigger container - some towels. Checking with maintenance (my radiator is a pipe, a valve, a spiral metal tube and then a nozzle) to see if it's anything special.
It's not special. Apparently, this is what people just dealt with back in the day - just a super hot metal bracket in their home that sometimes spits water and sometimes doesn't.
While I think about my radiator more than I likely should, I honestly enjoy it more than some other kind of heater. For starters, I love that most of my apartment is warm without the need of them - plus I'm into the idea of old things that have been for the most part phased out (like the dumb waiter and the rotary phone) - but I'm really starting to see why they aren't really standard anymore.
(At least I've figured out how to turn it off)
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