Heat, my darlings! Precious heat!
In case anyone has been wondering: here is a boiler. The old boiler. It doesn't look like much, but by gum, we missed it when it wasn't doing anything.
This is the interior of the burned-out boiler. It wasn't particularly charred, but you can see the quantities of rust. We are told that the previous owner must have skimped spectacularly on maintenance, as the old thing hadn't been cleaned out in ages. Apparently the fire was caused not by the cracked heat converter, but because the valve that measured the silt and gunk in the system was so clogged up that the automatic shut-off failed. When that happened, the burners kept running until the system became so overheated that it caught fire.
The interior of the new boiler -- much the same as the old boiler, but with 100% less fail. A boiler, it seems, consists of a series of large interlocking plates through which a large pipe runs. The pipe, I presume, carries the steam to the radiators? Don't be jealous of my intense technical knowledge.
Here we see the turbocharged burner. Each pipe has dozens of gas jets.
The old boiler, in pieces. You can see the plates and the hole for the pipe. Note the extensive rust. Note also the charming crack in my kitchen window. This house has character, in spades.
The new boiler assembled. It's less than half the size of Cthulu, the old coal-fired boiler. Cthulu was never moved out because it's too big to get out of the basement.
The lovely pot was in place for the purposes of flushing out the radiator system. Several buckets of junk were cleared from the pipes; the repairman was appalled. It's pretty obvious that the previous owner had let the system languish pretty disgracefully. The inspector should have noted the problems with the boiler before we moved in (less than a year ago, still), but I guess not everyone can be an expert in PREVENTING EXPENSIVE BOILER FIRES. The little valve over the pot allows us to flush the system ourselves once a month; the intense steam occasioned by flipping the valve means that no children set foot in the basement until we can cordon off this area in a very secure fashion.
On the plus side: the whole heating system is likely to run far more efficiently now. The radiators get much hotter these days. Jack has already learned not to sit on the one in the living room to toast his bottom.
And did I mention we have heat?