Sunday, January 3, 2021


 I have been dragging lately. I wake up with a minor headache in the morning and a sore throat. I've been needing my coffee more than usual. I start the day with aspirin. There is no fever. I can taste my coffee (and smell it brewing) just fine. 

Each morning, I find myself thinking, "What if that Christmas eve dash around town as we hunted down a ham has cost me more than money? What if I'm managed to pick up covid?" 

But the symptoms go away. The sore throat disappears as I am drinking my coffee. The aspirin takes care of the niggledy little headache.  By the time I'm out of a hot shower, the body aches are gone. The rest of the day proceeds normally. 

Our house is 100 years old and was designed like this: The old coal boiler still is in the basement. It heated water for some very ornate radiators. This heat could be controlled. You could focus the heat to the rooms that you were using. Every room has doors so that it can be closed off from the rest of the house. 

Unfortunately, the house was a repo, and had been improperly winterized. We lost every last one of those gorgeous radiators. The water had frozen inside them and they had burst. It broke Tim's heart. Tim installed a forced air system, but it left 'cold spots' in the house. 

The second floor has a gas stove up there, a big vented one. We turn that on if someone will be visiting. The house is your basic 'four square' (four rooms and a bath downstairs), four bedroom and a bath upstairs, The upstairs has a large hall that runs length wise of the house. You access four bedrooms and a bath from that. Between two of the bedrooms there is a small sitting room that has the door to the third floor, where there are two rooms and two attics which run the length of the house.  The third floor is unheated. We can keep that door closed, and open the doors to the bedrooms. The heat circulates freely through the second floor. The big stove is thermostatically controlled. 

Downstairs was a bit more difficult. The down stairs has a large foyer that runs widthwise through the middle of the house. Even a simple thing like going outside and coming inside let drafts in. We began using small ventless heaters in each room that we could turn on and turn off as needed during the coldest weather to warm the rooms that we were using. It was not ideal. They made a lot of moisture. Although I couldn't smell the fumes, I was waking up day after day with awful headaches and a sore throat. Since migraines and sinus used to be quite a struggle for me, we didn't connect them to the little heaters right away. Tim began figure it out when the headaches went away in the summer. The following winter, Tim installed a fireplace insert and removed two of the vented heaters. There was such an improvement that we quit using the other two. We replaced all the old windows with energy efficient new windows. 

Tim reads up on these things, and was taken with the Rinnai heaters. The more he read about them, they more convinced he was that they were our solution.  These new heaters do not use a pilot light. They are also thermostatically controlled. They don't come on until the temperature drops enough that the thermostat triggers the stove to ignite. The old ones were lit and burned constantly. The new ones have greatly reduced the fumes and moisture problems of the old stoves. 

So we have two new stoves downstairs, and they work very well. No moisture on the windows. No fiddling with settings, turning it up because we're cold, turning it down because we're hot. We also don't have to worry about curious kids getting burnt. We set the temperature and forget about them. Tim is pleased to note that the big furnace in the basement does not run so often. He has noticed a reduction in our heating bill. 

But...I have begun to wake up with a minor headache and a sore throat. 

I can deal with this. It's not a big deal. To be perfectly honest, I wouldn't even give it a second thought, if we weren't in the middle of a pandemic.

But we are in the middle of a pandemic. 

I do think about it.  

It's probably not, but what if?

I will be so glad when these days are over and I don't have to think twice about these things. 

Late edit: I am not fuming, not at all. It seems to be the stoves. It's a minor thing though. It simply is what it is. It was a feeble attempt at humor.

I was just venting. 



  1. Make sure you have enough humidity in the air. All of the heat could be reducing the amount of moisture in your air and this can cause sore throat - dry throat and other similar issues. Ranee (MN) USA

  2. Humidity has never been a problem in this house. :( We run a dehumidifier in the basement.

  3. One thing I've noticed since the first UK lockdown (we've been effectively locked down ever since!) is the odd sniffle, sore throat and cough I've picked up now and again. I never had the classic covid symptoms and have never been 'ill'. I used to think such things were infections I'd picked up but now, after this year, think they're probably environmental, since I've been nowhere near anyone to catch them from. A possible culprit, I decided, was anti-bacterial sprays and other cleaning chemicals.

  4. I would find it annoying and worrisome too. I find that my temper is short these days and I have too much to focus on things that normally wouldn't have bothered me. I hope that the issue goes away on its own. Perhaps it's related to stress?

  5. Our house was heated with a big coal stove, one room was very warm and the others had the chill taken of them. The fire was banked for the night so mornings were cool all over the house until the big stove was fed and new coal started burning. The house is still heated with a coal stove. It has insulation now and storm windows which help they say. Remember this house was built in the late 1800's.

  6. I have been sneezing solidly since the end of July.

    Every morning, I know I am awake because I have started sneezing.

    The only days I do not sneeze on waking are days when I have migraines - I will take the sneezes.

    But yes, in these times, its not just the hayfever (or carbon monoxide poisoning - eek) that we have to worry about.

  7. Oh gosh. We use carbon monoxide detectors. It's not that. We think it is NO2. I've always been pretty susceptible to things like fumes, smoke, strong perfumes and things like that. I seem to have gotten more sensitive to things like that since I gave up smoking 20 years ago, as strange at it sounds.

  8. Hi Debby, I know what you mean about worrying about symptoms. I find in the evening, particularly if there has been some talk of symptoms before bedtime, I go to bed and think I've got a bit of a headache, my throat feels tender, what if?? I know its all in my mind and its just me worrying, but its hard to shift the worrying thoughts isn't it. I'm putting it down to a symptom called Covid Worry. It's a thing. Worrying is part and parcel of this pandemic and it feels like it might last forever!

  9. I know all too well of what you speak of. With the last two weeks, I've gotten word with more closer friends or ex co workers getting covid and have lost three friends or the family members of friends. I use to at will go out for household items and food provision....but have recessed and have decided to only go back out once every two weeks. In my mind, the more trips out only raises the chance for getting it.

    Hang in there.

  10. I think it's pretty common to have some side-effects from home heating like dry throat and sinuses. I notice more of that kind of thing when we run our heater here. (For what that's worth!)

  11. Over the years, I've been around a lot of vent less heaters and they all have given me sore throats. (I have only had maybe two or three headaches in all my life.) So when we switched from an electric cooktop to a gas cooktop, I didn't take any chances and installed a overhead vent to outdoors even though according to the manufacturer, it was not necessary.

    Another thing I have noticed is that I have been in a few homes over the years that were built really really tight. They used spray foam, had house wrap and foam insulation under the siding, etc. All of them give me respiratory problems if I stay in them a long time. I have never had that issue in a drafty house, unless I was sitting in close proximity to a ventless heater anyway. So I am a big believer in letting houses breath, even at the cost of some efficiency losses.


I'm glad you're here!

No news results for Tim yet.  (I need patience...and quickly.) Houdi went into hiding again for most of the afternoon. I was quite worried....