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Fuel and Scaffolding All In Three Days

We finally have fuel back in our boiler tank. It was definitely a very cold weekend without heat. After huddling in the kitchen and memorizing all the lines in the Harry Potter series and then the Star Wars trilogy due to my weekend movie marathon, I was glad when the fuel guy arrived on Monday morning. He was late, big surprise, but he did show up on the expected delivery date so I guess I can forgive him the lateness (plus he had the most gorgeous Paul Newman blue eyes ever).

He had to park his truck outside our property because it was too big to fit through the gate (same problem as the material delivery truck fiasco). No big deal for the fuel truck, though, as he had a hose that was around 40 meters in length. He was able to run the hose through our garden and into the garage and all the way back to our tank.

It only took about 5-10 minutes to give us the 1000 liters we ordered. We didn’t even have to move the car or any of our stuff out of the way! It was simple, easy and expensive. This is how I feel about the simple and easy part 🙂  This is how I feel about the expensive part 😦 This summer we will be working on ways to improve the efficiency of our home so that next winter we will be more prepared and try to use less fuel and be more energy efficient. I think we can do it so I’m not too worried. Even thought the fuel costs an arm and a leg, I still love my heating system! The fuel guy seemed to like it too and kept raving about our tank. He thought it was super cool. He has good taste in fuel tanks!

After the fill up, away he went with my money and away we went with turning the system back on. Heat at last, that’s always a good thing in weather like this.

That same evening while I was at work, I got a call from Mr. Right Hand Man who said that they were ready to come to my house and put up the scaffolding. He wanted to know if Tuesday morning would work. Unfortunately, ce n’etait pas bon for me and I had to tell him no, but that Wednesday would be good. I was in luck because Wednesday happened to be an okay day for him and his team, too.  Yippey, cuz Monday was the day I hit the jackpot.

This morning I got up early in anticipation for the 8:30ish arrival. Well 8:30 came and went and so did 9:00. Around 9:30 I called Mr. Right Hand Man to ask him what was happening. He didn’t answer so I left a message to please call me back and verify that the team was really showing up today.

Around 9:45 the team of two guys showed up with the scaffolding. They took a look around and then talked to my neighbor (whose garden will be hosting the scaffolding while the façade is done). They finally came to the conclusion that the best thing to do was to put up the scaffolding in our yard for the first week of work to do the roof and then once that is done they will take the scaffolding down and reset it up in our neighbor’s yard for the work on the façade. This way they (and we) won’t have to bother our neighbors with having this big contraption in their yards for a long duration. For our neighbors, this cuts the time in half that the scaffolding will be in their yard. I thought that was a great idea (cuz living in a village house you really don’t want to piss of and bother your neighbors to much, close quarters and all).

Well, to work these guys went and they put up the scaffolding in about 3 hours. During this time Mr. Right Hand Man decided to call me back. That was nice. I let him know that his little helpers had arrived and were busy getting their work done outside in the freezing cold.

Now our house looks like this and believe me, I love it!

Finally, we have some positive progress to our renovation nightmare. The only thing Dude was really worried about is that they had to drill holes in the side of the house to anchor the scaffolding. That’s all we need is more holes in this place! I’m not too worried. When they take the scaffolding down, they should be able to fill those in. After all, they’ll already have the colored stucco for the façade ready to go, what’s a few more dabbles on this old place. I’m sure it will be no problem for them.

When the guys left they said that they were going to check on when the materials will be delivered and they are hoping that all will be ready for tomorrow. I guess I won’t know until tomorrow, though. One of the guys said that until all the roofing material is here, they can’t start the work because they don’t want to risk taking off the old roof and not having anything to cover it with (for who knows how long) cuz if the weather turns bad again we will be screwed. I like his logic.

So for now, all we have is a fashion accessory to our house and we have to wait and see when the progress will continue. Forward march!

What! No Heat? You’re Kidding Me!

Well, as much as I love the snow we just had and I don’t really mind cold weather, I was not happy to come home last night from work and find my heater not working.

We have the boiler system in our house. It looks like this

It has a large tank that holds around 2,000 liters of red diesel fuel in the garage.

When we moved in to the house last summer there just happened to be a fair amount of fuel left in the tank from the previous owners. Sheer joy and luck for us cuz that meant we wouldn’t have to worry about filling the tank while all this other construction stuff was going on around us.

Every day since we started using the boiler we would check the gauge on the tank and every day it would still show that we had fuel. Yaaay! We’ve been trying to keep the usage of fuel down this winter and we only use two of the six radiators in the house.

I have to say that I love this type of heating system. I’ve come across some writings lately where people are doing away with the boiler system and wanting to go for electric heaters, solar heating, or some other type of heating system because they feel that the “chaudière au fuel”, which is what we’ve been told it’s called, is too expensive in fuel costs.

Since we haven’t paid a dime yet for the fuel I don’t really have an argument for that one. I’ll get back to you next winter with my commentary on that subject.  I do however have an opinion on the heating. This system is the bomb. I swear that the two radiators we have going, heat our house up just fine and it’s always nice and toasty. That’s saying a lot too since our house is large, old and made of cold, stone walls.

Before buying this house we lived in a new apartment building which has those newfangled electric radiators. I swear I had those things going all day long on top speed and I still had to stand right in front of them to get warm!  On top of the fact that they dried out the air so bad that we kept getting the s**t shocked out of us constantly! I hated them.

The water/fuel system we have now makes the heat radiate throughout the room evenly and it gives a very nice, all encompassing, warmth. It’s wonderful! We even have radiators in the bathrooms! Love it 🙂

Dude did some research on the system we have and they are quite expensive to put in so I’m not sure I would recommend it if one was wondering about installing it new. I do have to tell you that the old owners spent bucks on our system. They most likely installed in sometime in the 1970’s (Dude’s best guess), but because they died in the early 1980’s and the house has been vacant, it wasn’t used much at all and is in really good shape except for a few odds and ends (aka the pump- which will be written about in a future post), but for the most part it’s been working like a charm. They totally went to town on this thing, copper piping, back up hot water for the house, and all, which is another reason why I would hate to do away with it. Also, I just love the old school radiator heating system. It’s totally retro and fits my old house!

Okay-back to my story on no heat. When Dude and I got home and found that the heater wasn’t working, of course the first thing we did was check the fuel gauge to see what was up. All good there. Then Dude started to get worried that something major had broken and was running around cussing, like he always does lately about this house, and was all up in arms about the fact that he didn’t want to fix this thing right now when it was freezing, that he wasn’t a heater expert, and that this was definitely the wrong time for it to go out.

Well, we put on our grubbies and got to work to figure out what the deal was. He took off the cover to the motor and checked it really good, he checked the lines and inspected the electrical and nothing was wrong. So the only thing we could do was open the hole where the gauge was and look down into the tank with a light to double check that everything was okay and there really was fuel still in there like it said there was.

Guess what?? No fuel was left. That gauge lied to us! It flat out told us we still had a decent amount of fuel left and it lied to us. Nice time to start not telling us the truth, in the middle of the coldest winter Provence has seen in years!

So Dude inspected the gauge and now we are going to have to fix it so it will tell us the truth from now on. In the meantime we have no radiator heat in our stone cold house.

Today we found a place not far from us who can deliver fuel to our house. They said that it couldn’t be today or tomorrow, though (big surprise). Tomorrow was out of the question because we are due for another snow storm tonight AND tomorrow all the way through the afternoon, so the lady said if that happens it’s completely interdit for large trucks to be on the road.

Well, what were we going to do about that? Nothing is what. So, we booked a delivery for Monday morning for 1,000 liters of fuel. Yes, that’s gonna cost me (at least I had a heads up on pricing from Piglet in France), but I will be nice, warm and happy for the duration of the upcoming cold days or weeks.

So now, we are all living in the kitchen with a tiny electric heater.

The rest of the house is too cold to be in. I guess it will be this way for the next two days. So to help us out we’re having homemade chicken stew for dinner. Not only will that help warm up our little kitchen/living area, but it will also warm our tummies, as well.

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