La Grande Rastrellata – Second edition

We did it! On Saturday, the second edition of the “Grande Rastrellata” took place and it was a success! Ian and Oli were the first to show up, soon followed by Emanuele, Renzo, Jacopo, Gianmarco, Alessandro and even Nicola and Paula took part to the action!

Compared to the 2019 edition this year we had a huge improvement: Renzo found a pick up to transport the leaves to the Ecocentro. With such a vehicle our productivity sky rocketed! As per our estimates we were able fill and transport 45 huge orange bags! The keeper of the Ecocentro was kind of shocked and suspicious about such a great quantity of leaves.

First load complete! In the picture almost the whole team in front of the fully loaded pickup!

The weather was spectacular: a beautiful sun and a really nice temperature were our companions for the whole day and contributed substancially to the good mood and success of the day. Have a look at the sky at 07:30 in the morning!

A really beautiful sky early in the morning. Very soft clouds moving in the blue, while the rising sun gives some pink color… Good morning and a good start in the day!

If I may add a little (worried) side note, the weather was even too nice and warm for this period of the year. Apparently the temperatures were so high that broke all the records since the beginning of measurements.

Anyhow as soon as anyone arrived they received a nice pair of working gloves, a rake and their very own piece of forest to clean up. Some worked in pairs others preferred to choose the lone wolf path. Everyone was raking and trying to optimise the collecting process, which between the two, is the most energy demanding.

Soon enough it was time to prepare the grill: Gianmarco took control of it and grilled for all of us. With the support of Enza, Natascia and Benedetta who prepared all the rest, the lunch was great. Especially the chocolate cake left a delicious memory to all of us.

The grill and its Master had a huge success! Thank you!

While waiting for the food to be ready we even had some time to practice with some pictures from the top of the sky!

Waiting for lunch to be ready!
The city of Lugano seen from above!

The whole day was great and I loved it: there was a lot of work to be done, still everyone was highly motivated and energetic! And the more we racked the ground the more we got excited!

There were those moments were everyone was so concentrated in raking and collecting leaves, following their own path and thoughts, that you would not hear anything else beside the noise of the rakes scratching the ground. In those moments I liked to stop, catch some breath and shout out the name of anyone, just to bring everyone back to our dimension… 🙂 … jokes aside I am quite convinced that raking, similarly to many cleaning activities, brings you to think and at the same time relaxes you.

Oli was one who got mostly deep into the woods and as a consequence he disappeared for a while. He was one I called out and I do have this picture of his in my mind: Oli getting out of the woods, with his huge orange bag on his shoulders bouncing up and down, with a huge smile of satisfaction for his big cargo! A superhero! 😀 It was impossible to not to joke about him!

But it is thanks to him if I have this beautiful picture to share with all of you:

Or what about this one? Is someone hiding behind a rake?!

It was a beutiful day, I had a lot of fun and it was great to have many of our friends with us for a little longer than usual: a nice moment to catch up on each other lives!

I am really looking forward for the next Grande Rastrellata! Leaves will be waiting, for sure! 😀 Thanks to all of you and until next year!

La Grande Rastrellata

The idea came to my mind for the first time a few years ago. Although not difficult to realise it took me some courage to make it happen, but then… I decided to do it and soon enough I was getting in touch with Oli, Marco, Ema, Ian, Silvio, Gianmarco as I wanted to know if they where “in” for some work together!

This time, the invite was somewhat different from the standard lunch invitation: although the aim of the event was to spend some time together I asked my friends to take working gloves and a rack as the plan was to clean the near woodland by removing some of the leaves that had fallen during fall.

And this we did! On the 09th of March at 09:00 o’clock Marco was at my door with all the tools, gloves, huge orange plastic bags and with professional gardening clothes ready to start La Grande Rastrellata!

Soon the rest of the group showed up and the rhythmic sound of the racks hitting the ground made good company to the birds announcing the first days of spring. Everyone besides Giammarco, who had an accident the day before and could not stand properly.

We decided that it would be best to start from the most deep part of the woodland and then slowly come back to the entry point while the we removed the leaves.

Marco was ultra determined and soon he was so deep into the forest that we could not see him anymore, even with his orange and yellow professional clothes. We would know that he was around only because of the noise of his furious rack. 🙂

The other working unit was made by Oli and Ema: less aggressive than Marco they preferred to chit chat while working…

Meanwhile I was struggling to keep the pace of Ian who, to my great joy, was leaving all over the place small piles of leaves which I was putting into one of the numerous orange bags. Once finished of transferring one of the piles which Ian had energetically prepared I would look around looking for some satisfaction: every time I would stop I realised that there was still so much more to do that I stopped looking around searching for satisfaction. 😀 Instead I would shout to Ian to help me picking up the leaves, instead of concentrating on the “easy” work of racking them together! 😀

I even tried to develop a personal technique to avoid flexing so much, here some pictures:

Even if all of us try to do some sport during the week, after 01:30 hours we were ready for a coffee break. The first signs of fatigue were there, but in general ,the happiness of being outdoor doing a physical job was prevailing.

Everyone was really thankful to my wife for the coffee, water and biscuits which disappeared, really, really quickly! I guess Ian was the culprit there…

After the short break we started working again. I even involved my father, who luckily was there, by asking him to prepare the grill and start grilling. I knew that everyone was concentrated in getting its own piece of woodland cleared, but I also was aware that as soon as everyone would have finished, they would discover of being hungry as wolves.

Around 13:00 we decided to stop. There still were a lot of leaves on the ground, but we already had filled all the bags we had. This also considering that Renzo had already taken and emptied some of the bags at the ecocenter.

Since we did not have any empty bag to use, we joined the rest of the family for lunch: we started with some grilled bread covered with tomato, oil and oregano (bruschette) which was amazing.

The picture represent multiple orange plastic bags filled with leaves at the end of our gardening work.
Some of the bags we filled with leaves.

After the grilling and the lunch some of us had to leave while Oli had some more time to help me transport the big orange bags to the ecocenter. The Skoda Octavia proved itself once more: by keeping down the back seats we managed to fit four of those bags. Actually there was even more room left, most probably two more bags could have fit. I did not want to soil or scratch the interiors, therefore we decided to stay conservative: a good choice for the car, less for the whole logistic process: the ecocenter closed its doors on our nose when we were ready to drop the last two bags. Damn. Oli will never forget the frustration of not managing to 100% complete the job. 😀

Even with that small hiccup we were all happy about the day. A good change from the daily office routine. It is incredible how such an easy job as collecting leaves can have such a great impact on your mood. Of course with a group of good friends everything makes more fun!

A huge thank you for the effort and for the good mood you brought which made the whole day rock!… and as it was such a success… til next year! 🙂

Wintery pictures of Comano

I have been waiting for it for almost the whole winter and finally, after being long anticipated, the snow arrived. And in large quantities, too! That day and that night were beautiful. I took the chance to have a little walk and take some pictures.

Please have a look at the gallery below. If you click on the images you can have them bigger and read some descriptions I have added.

Fortunately the snow stopped later at night: that way we all had our moment of happiness without getting into troubles. I had to invest some hours to move the snow from our parking lot and I was really happy of having two snow shovels ready to use.

How to remove snow?

A more practical note: I have been applying salt on those ways which I wanted to stay clean from the snow but it did not help. Salt should be used only to avoid the snow, water from getting ice. From this year experience I have learned that applying salt, before the snow arrives, does not avoids it from sticking on to the ground. Next time I should:

  • Wait for the snowing to stop
  • Remove the snow
  • Spread salt

In my opinion it makes sense to remove the snow even if it has not stopped yet from snowing: this because if you remove a little every now and then it is easier on your body. Also if you move the snow immediately it is much easier to remove as it is not iced yet.

I really enjoyed my walk through the woods and I am sure that I will love looking at this pictures once in while. 🙂

Time has changed! Winter is coming… 

… And for me, and for our boiler, it is now the Moment Of Truth.

Remembering the past issues

As you may remember from some previous posts (27.03.2017 – Pressure loss discovery in the heating system; 29.06.2017 – Heating system: technician advice) we have had multiple issues with our boiler: the water pressure was slowly but constantly decreasing, which led to the boiler stopping every now and then, or, the boiler kept running but the water/house wasn’t warm enough. Particularly the decreasing of the water pressure disturbed me as I didn’t have any clue of where the water was going: having a floor heating system, the idea of a water leak was terrifying me.

After multiple interventions of the technicians I finally discovered that the issue was related to a lack of maintenance and to my ignorance. In fact I always thought that the maintenance performed by Elco’s technicians was enough for the boiler to be in a good shape.

It is not.

The boiler has to be cleaned every year by a chimney sweeper, too. From what I understood the chimney sweeper opens the boiler and performs a chemical wash which removes the combustion residuals as well as the limescale which is generated while heating the water: further,  in our specific model of boiler, the heat exchanger features many thin fins which get clogged easily, therefore I believe it is particularly sensitive and should be maintained with extra care. Indeed, after the cleaning, the boiler was working much better. But, my little quest wasn’t finished, as the loosing water pressure issue wasn’t solved yet. After further researches we discovered that, probably due to the accumulation of residuals in the past six years, the heat exchanger wasn’t waterproof anymore: we had to change ours with a new one. And, as often happens, the warranty already had expired!

How does it look like today, then?

As the technician said, after all the interventions, basically we now have a new boiler. Since the substitution I have been checking the water pressure with some apprehension, as I was afraid that it would start dropping again. From the measurements that you will see below you may notice that there is still some pressure loss, still it is slower than before: as you may observe, starting from June 2017 the pressure is decreasing way slower. I hope this is an acceptable level of pressure loss.

Raw data

Here below some of the measurements that I have made during the past months. Please note that the change of the heat exchanger happened on the 29.06.2017. After that date the pressure loss is still there but happens in a time frame of over 2 months.

  1. Date: 27.03.2017 Water Pressure (bar): 2.0
  2. Date: 02.04.2017 Water Pressure (bar): 1.9
  3. Date: 11.04.2017 Water Pressure (bar): 1.85
  4. Date: 18.04.2017 Water Pressure (bar): 1.75
  5. Date: 29.06.2017 Water Pressure (bar): 1.9 – New heat exchanger
  6. Date: 30.06.2017 Water Pressure (bar): 1.9
  7. Date: 17.09.2017 Water Pressure (bar): 1.8
  8. Date: 03.10.2017 Water Pressure (bar): 1.75
  9. Date: 19.10.2017 Water Pressure (bar): 1.75
  10. Date: 28.10.2017 Water Pressure (bar): 1.75

How could you define what pressure loss is acceptable?

I have asked to the technicians what they expect as a normal pressure loss and apparently there is no rule and no answer I have got is the same. Therefore I believe that one way of getting a rough idea is to keep track of the changes, possibly starting immediately since the first installation of the boiler. This is very important because it would give you the starting point, when you know that everything works perfectly (in an ideal world/case, it should be like this, yes! :-))

This is one of the reasons why I’m writing about our boiler, which per se, is not at all an interesting topic: I try to keep track of the changes and of the major events, so that if something should ever happen, I have some sort of diary. And yeah, absolutely, turning on the heating is definitely a major event, or, The Moment Of Truth.

The Moment Of Truth

As the temperatures are slowly decreasing yesterday night I decided of switching on the heating for the whole house. And this is the Moment Of Truth! Will it work? Will the house heat up without too much hassle? And what will happen with the water pressure, will it increase a little, since it is going to be hot water running trough the pipes?

Curious observation

During one of the many diagnostic moment I had the chance to record some strange noises made by the boiler. This was after having opened again the water and I believe the noise we hear is the pump trying to get restore the correct flow. Those are my interpretations only though.

Heating system: pressure loss

It is a few weeks that I have noticed and increasing loss of water pressure. Everything started three weeks ago, when I decided to stop the heating of the house since it was getting warmer and warmer. In that occasion I discovered that the pressure was lower of almost 0.5 bar.

I have already spoken with the plumber but he is not too sure about the reason why our heating system is loosing so much water in such a short time without leaving any kind of traces on walls, floor, whatever.

Now I have filled the system again in order to reach a pressure of about 2 bar. I’ll keep observing the manometer and see how fast it declines.

I’m starting to think that the expansion vessel might be not working correctly anymore. The name of the make is Pneumatex, while the model is Statico SD80.3Here some further specifcations.

Many weeks later I decided to try to solve the issue: have a look at the follow up!

Heating system, boiler and burner maintenance

This year I had a few issues with our heating system at home: I’m going to describe what happened and what I learned from my little incidents.

Description of the heating system

Based on our experience, we decided to install an underfloor heating system when we built the new house, therefore we do not have any radiators to be seen: the heat is carried by a liquid which is constantly pumped through tubes running under our floor. The burner is a gas powered Remeha Calenta 35S+. We bought it and installed it during 2011.

I have understood that the “+” in the model name refers to the fact that this burner is built for the preparation of hot water to be used e.g. in the shower as well as the heating. Other models like the “35” have been developed for the heating system only.


Manuals for the burner (sadly in Italian language only, I wasn’t able to find them in English).


PM 2975 OGZ

The burner has a second computer on board, the so called PM 2975 OGZ, which is dedicated to the control of the temperature of the heating, of the hot water, the scheduling…  Sadly I have lost the manual explaining how this particular computer should be set. In any case I remember it wasn’t that clear. 

One example that explains the role of the PM 2975 OGZ is the following: the PM 2975 OGZ uses a temperature probe installed outside the house to measure the outside temperature and based on this information and on an algorithm it increases or decreases the heating temperature.

Maintenance duties

  • Every year let the company perform the maintenance of  burner
  • Every year have the chimney sweep clean the burner
  • Every three years have the plumber clean the pipes of the underfloor heating
  • Every five years have the boiler cleaned

During the year it is a good idea to check the pressure of the liquid in the circuit. It is known that the pressure may go down so that once or twice a year a refill needs to be made. The refill is usually done with water: you should take care of refilling slowly and avoiding air to get into the tubes. To do that it is recommended to add water into the refilling tube until it is completely full before opening the tap and letting the fresh water into the circuit.

Water pressure gauge
Our water pressure gauge

The recommended pressure is around 2 bars in the winter time, when the heating system is on, while in the summer the pressure may lower to 1.5 bars.

Why is it important to have the chimney sweep clean the burner?

Because of my ignorance I never called the chimney sweeper for 5 years: I was convinced that the regular maintenance performed by Elco was the only one regular maintenance to be made. But I was wrong. This year we realised that the heating system wasn’t capable of reaching the temperature we wanted while outside the temperature was going below zero. Also the water for the shower was hot, but not as usual. Therefore I started to worry and called Elco, announcing that the burner wasn’t working properly. As the technician arrived we checked the methane consumption over a period of time of some seconds and quickly he was able to tell me that the burner was working at a third of its capacity. Then he disassembled the whole burner and he discovered that it was clogged and that needed to be thoroughly cleaned. The Elco technician made what he could in order to start the burner again and on the first days of January I called the chimney sweeper.

As per the moment being everything works fine: the shower is hot enough and the heating works fine. Pressure in the tubes is around two bars.

The one thing I have realised is that the burner needs attentive care and should be checked ever now and then, maybe a quick look every month, in order to see if everything works fine or at least have a date to refer to, in case something suddenly stops working correctly.