Ratty Radiator: Refurbishing Your Old HVAC Units

Hunting for a home can be a challenge, especially with the way the housing market has been looking lately. Now add the new home vs old home debate into the mix and you’re sure to be even more confused! New homes have that clean look and fresh smell that homeowners love. However, there is something to say about the charm and durability of an older home. Older homes have a unique structural design, are often found in desirable locals close to city centres, and are constructed with high-quality materials. If you want the best of both worlds, there are ways you can renovate your home, keeping safety and HVAC in mind.

Ratty Radiator – Towel Rack Transformation

I am sure you’ve heard of the term ‘vintage’ being thrown around in the last decade or so. More and more people are infusing their homes with vintage elements to get that unique flare and old-school charm. A few weeks ago we got the chance to revamp a ratty radiator, featured below, by making it into a fully functioning heated towel rack for one of our fantastic clients!

HVAC Vintage Finds

This project inspired us to explore other ways homeowners can renovate their old or new home, by keeping the elements they love intact. Check out this old boiler and German-style thermostat we found online! If you have one of these kicking around your home, instead of throwing it out, incorporate it into your interior design. This will add that little bit of history to your home’s otherwise cookie-cutter construction.

Old A/C DIY Project

Do you have an old air conditioning unit in your home that stylistically you just don’t know what to do with? Instead of moving or tearing your wall apart, try covering it up using inexpensive wood panelling. Vintage Meets Glam transformed the look of her bedroom by doing just that!

Safety First

DIY projects can be exciting and fun, however, working with HVAC units, whether functioning or not, could pose safety risks. Before starting a project like the ones above in your home, talk to a professional to determine whether or not a risk is present. Stay safe and happy decorating!

Hot Box History

Are you sitting in your home or office, shivering, waiting for summer to return so that you can stop cursing your faulty thermostat under your frosted breath? Do you hate wrapping yourself up like a burrito and trying to type with gloves on every day? Sometimes the struggle is just too real. Now imagine a time where heating was a concept only dreamed of. Imagine rubbing two sticks together to survive. Over the years, humans had to become inventive in order to combat the frigid weather. This is where radiators, as we know them today, come in. Let us start from the beginning, with a look at primal heating techniques.

Hearth Heating

When we think of building fires today, we think of camping and getting back to nature. We do not necessarily think of heat as a means of survival. For the Neanderthals, building hearths was imperative for eating and staying alive. However, these hearths brought with them their own dangers due to the sparks being created. These sparks could easily fly up and ignite the vegetation present in the caves.

Roman Hypocausts & Bronze Age Ondol

Many years later, the Romans and Koreans began simultaneously experimenting with an early form of central heating. A Roman engineer by the name of Sergius Orata invented hypocausts, which circulated hot air and smoke generated by furnace flames underneath home floorboards. The Ondol from Korea used a similar, albeit more efficient system, that directed the heat more quickly throughout the house.

Benjamin Franklin

In 1741, Benjamin Franklin further improved these methods by lining his fireplace with metal and creating a hollow baffle with a duct attached. This duct led to an upside down tube-like structure, which directed furnace fumes up and restricted where the fumes could travel, forcing them to take a longer route. The metal lining conducted the heat more readily and the longer travel path meant that fumes were circulating longer, heating the home for an extended period of time before they escaped.

Industrial Steam Heating

Later in the 18th century, two Englishmen by the names of Matthew Boulton and James Watt, understanding the importance of materials used, began experimenting with soldered copper sheeting to steam heat mills and factories in England. A few decades later, in the USA, high pressure steam engines were used to heat prominent buildings like the White House and the Capitol Building.

Residential Steam Heating

It was not until 1854, when stone maker, Stephen Gold, created the “mattress radiator,” that radiators became a residential commercial success. He addressed concerns regarding steam heaters being too complicated and unsafe, by creating a patent that mitigated a lot of the danger created by earlier models. Essentially, he riveted two indented sheets of iron together, allowing for a safe passage of hot air to circulate within.

Franz San Galli

Although it is widely disputed as to who actually invented the first radiator, Polish-born Russian businessman, Franz San Galli, is credited for its creation. In the midst of the harsh temperatures of St. Petersburg, Russia during the mid 19th century, Franz invented what he dubbed as the “hotbox.” This invention transformed the world of central heating we know today. Hooray for no more bulky bear skin fur coats!

Radiators Today

The use of radiators is still alive today, as the ornate Victorian style and metalwork is gaining in popularity. It is seen re-emerging in modern interior decor designs across the world. Talk about a blast from the past! Do you have a radiator that isn’t working to its full capacity? Are you moving and thinking about what HVAC system would be most suitable for your home? Contact us —we have the answers and professional services you need to get the job done right!

Fastest Emergency Service in Waterloo Region

Emergency ServiceEmergency? No heat? No hot water? Call us now! If your furnace or boiler quits, Afterglow is here to help. Just give us call and our technicians will be at your home FAST.

How fast? From the time you make the call, there will be an Afterglow expert at your door within four-hours! That’s the quickest emergency service in Waterloo Region.

Whether you’re in the City of Waterloo, Kitchener, Cambridge, the Township of North Dumfries, Wellesley, Wilmot, or Woolwich, our on-call technicians will be there to help. Meet Kitchener resident Shelley Payne.

Shelley had been having issues with her furnace all winter, until it stopped working completely. “It had been turning off and on for the past couple of months, until last week when it stopped working completely,” she explained. “I called Afterglow for it’s emergency service and they came right away.” When asked about the technicians who serviced her furnace she said they were “totally friendly,” and fixed her furnace’s problem quickly. She was especially happy to hear that her furnace will survive the rest of the winter.

No matter what type of furnace you have, you can rely on our factory-trained team for quality service. We fix every make and model, including: Olsen, Frigidaire, Maytag, Trane, Armstrong, Amana, Comfortmaker, Goodman, Ruud, Rheem, Heil, Payne, Bryant, Luxaire, York, Gibson, Lennox, Tempstar, Carrier, Burnham, Ducane, Keeprite, Weatherking, Coleman, Arcoaire, Janitorial and American Standard.

Afterglow is available for all your heating needs throughout the winter: 519-747-7732.

Afterglow. Water, warmth, well-being.

Afterglow’s #KWColdHeroes

Afterglow loves the Region of Waterloo! Not only because it’s been our home since 1991, but because of how charitable it is. Over the years, we’ve noticed many organizations that do their part to give back and support our community. Today, we want to recognize those organizations, specifically the ones that work overtime in the winter months! We are calling them our #KWColdHereos.


1. Out of the Cold

Since 1999, churches in the Region of Waterloo have opened their doors to provide overnight shelter and nourishment to the area’s poor and homeless. The program that oversees this is called Out of the Cold, and it strives to provide shelter and food in the winter.

With temperatures reaching under – 20C this year, organizations like Out of the Cold are essential for the Region of Waterloo. For more information, visit their homepage and myths and facts sheet.

KW Out of the Cold
2. Reception House Waterloo Region

Reception House Waterloo Region is a temporary home for government-assisted refugees. Each year, approximately 245 newly arrived refugees and about 75 secondary migrants are served.

Reception House provides orientation and settlement guidance through discussion and hands-on experience. That means for refugees who have never experienced winter before are given the tools they need to survive, including: gloves, hats, jackets, boots and more.

Learn more about Reception House and how you can support them by visiting their website.


3. The Food Bank of Waterloo Region

The Food Bank of Waterloo RegionThe Food Bank of Waterloo Region was founded as a non-profit, registered charitable organization in 1984 and has grown immensely over the years. For example, in 2013 it distributed 91,796 emergency hampers, 34,735 different individuals were served, and 522,327 meals were served.

The 2013 snapshot of Waterloo Region is no different than the rest of the country. Thousands of neighbours continue to struggle with hunger.

It’s important to recognize that the need for food donations is greater in the winter. Why? Many have to decide between heating and eating, and with this year’s frigid temperatures people are putting their money towards heat.

If you’d like to give a donation to the Food Bank of Waterloo Region visit their website.

These organizations work year round to support the Region of Waterloo. At Afterglow, we are thankful for all the hard work they do, especially in the winter! It’s not easy to run a charitable organization, and it’s even harder when the demands are high.

Do you know a charity who deserves to be a #KWColdHereo? Let us know on Twitter!

The Region of Waterloo trusts Afterglow for all its heating needs. Remember we’re available for all your heating needs throughout the winter: 519-747-7732.

Afterglow. Water, warmth, well-being.

5 Weather Facts That’ll Impress Everyone at the Office Water Cooler

It’s -17C, but with the wind chill it feels more like -27C. Yes, it’s cold out, but these weather facts prove that it could be a lot worse:

  1. The lowest temperature recorded in Canada was -63C at Snag, Yukon Territory, on February 3, 1947.
  2. On December 15th, 1964, the Great Blizzard struck parts of the Prairie Provinces with heavy snow, sustained winds of 50 to 90 km/h, and – 34C temperatures.
  3. On December 29th, 1794, Peter Fidler recorded that Holland gin froze solid at -27C, English brandy at -32C and rum at -35C.
  4. On November 10, 1986, Winnipeg dug out from beneath 35.8 cm of snow left by a 32-hour storm. Clean-up costs were $2.5 million, a quarter of the city’s annual snow-removal budget.
  5. The lowest recorded temperature in Waterloo was -31C, on February 12 2014. Can you believe it? The lowest temperature was only recorded a year ago.

We recommend dropping these facts the next time you are at the office water cooler! Not only will you impress your colleagues, but it will also remind them that the weather is not as bad as it could be.

Office Water Cooler
Even when the cold weather isn’t breaking records, it still strains heating equipment. Prevent breakdowns by getting your furnace or boiler a checkup! Having your heating system cleaned and tested will save you money on expensive repairs and prevent disastrous breakdowns.

The Region of Waterloo knows that it can trust Afterglow for all its heating needs. Book an appointment with us today: 519-747-7732.

Afterglow. Water, warmth, well-being.