'Condemned' notices in a building are never a good thing.
We have two. They're attached to boilers sited in metal boxes garishly coloured like dart frogs as if to underscore the dangers lurking beneath. With two units retired, we have been limping along on a third of our heating system since we moved in and, preferring to avoid another winter of heating roulette, we set about trying to organise a refit a few months ago.
Modular 150kw-plus heating systems aren't exactly the Mastermind specialist subject of choice for either of us, but it's amazing what you can learn with enough Googling, conversations with heating engineers, and the weight of making an expensive 30 year investment on your shoulders. Of course knowledge growth for Dunc and I are measured on wildly different scales. He is able to speak convincing 'flange'; whereas my skills proudly extend to visiting the boiler room unaccompanied, confidently turning the boiler off and on again (Dunc's IT background has always made this a natural problem-solving habit for him. Almost a tic), and figuring out the route of the flue without a prior briefing.
The boiler and I were forced into taking our relationship to this new level last week when the inevitable happened. Tepid water and stone cold radiators.
The one comfort I take, trudging down the cellar stairs to investigate, is that someone before me has also had a less-than-technical appreciation of the gubbins below.....
.....and has presumably sworn and lost chunks of scalp as a consequence......more than once.
The red light on 'module 1' is ominous. 'Ignition lockout'. Glancing around at the rest of the pipework, panels, and levers dizzies my head. Clocking at least 3 power switches, each of which looking as though they could feasibly relate to the heating system, feels to me like a Hurt Locker moment. However, I take a deep breath, channel my inner Dunc, and have an off-on flick at each of them in turn. The lockout alert blinks on again.
We have been waiting for the latest boiler refit quote for 3 weeks, and a phone call to the heating engineer to check on progress last week yielded no more than excuses and a vague agreement that it would be sent out to us. I dial his number again, opening the conversation with 'don't worry I'm not phoning to hassle you about the quote.....'. He's clear that he is in no way worried, and can't find any time to look at why our boiler has stopped working.
More luck with another local plumber who arrives within a couple of hours. The online Gas Safe profile picture does him no favours, and it's a lovely surprise that he's both helpful and smiley. As he repeats my off-on switch flick, I explain 'Oh, I've tried tha.........'.
Whoosh. An amber light. The boiler wakes.
He's generous both in sharing a feeble joke that he has a magic engineer's finger and in refusing to take any payment for the call-out.
An hour and a half later and things turn slightly chilly again. And it's from here that me and Module 1 really get to bond. Ignition lockout is back and I step up to the power switch with quiet assurance. Click. Whoosh.........
And so it is that Module 1 and I build up a bank of quality time together through a series of 5 minute reboot manoeuvres over the next 24 hours, until Dunc finally defeats ignition lockout with another IT intervention - a cleansing blast of Module 1's innards using computer keyboard dusting aerosol. He is at pains to reassure me that all the power was off and that this was a completely safe and sensible thing to do.
Our quest for a new boiler and reliable boiler fitter continues. In the meantime we live each day with renewed reverence for Module 1.