News and notes from Reston (tm).

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Winter's Tale, or How RELAC (Nearly) Ruined Christmas

800px-Reston,_Virginia_-_Lake_Anne_plaza.jpgOne nice thing about RELAC, the jet-aged alternative air conditioning system that uses tepid lake water to "chill" homes around Lake Anne, is that it only doesn't work correctly for half of the year. In the winter months, you can relax, and maybe even open a window and pretend that the frigid air that's flowing in is from a functioning cooling system in the middle of the summer.

Not this year, though!

A few weeks ago, there was a tapping at our door here in lovely Lake Anne. It was a representative of RELAC, our special chilled water air conditioning system "serving" about 400 homes near Lake Anne. Many of us refer to it as RELIC, i.e., an old, inefficient system providing poor cooling at outrageous prices.

Today, there was another concern. The friendly rep told me there was serious leakage from RELAC pipes in the area of our townhouse and the neighboring Heron House apartment tower which gets RELAC water for heating as well as cooling. Water was pouring into Heron House's basement.
Those are the words of John Lovaas, who hosts a program about Reston on the teevee. And apparently, the RELAC people have magical powers!
Then he did a curious thing. He put his ear to the pipes, listened, and turned to me, smiling. Not to worry, he said. The leak was not near my house, but at some distance away, much closer to the Heron House. Made sense to me since water is pouring into their basement. He asked me to listen for myself. All I heard was a soft whirring sound. It would be much louder if the leak were closer, he said. Apparently leaks whir!
The story just gets better from there. Not to give everything away, but it involves a visit from the fire department, loss of phone service, an 18-wheeler attempting to yank a pipe out of a wall, a hastily built bridge for Thanksgiving guests, and, apparently, lots of digging. Heat up some hot chocolate, gather your kids around the fireplace, and as the folks on the Internets like to say, read the whole thing.


  1. As is often the case with Mr. Lovaas' reporting, it's amusing but only marginally accurate.

  2. I wouldn't get too worked up over it. It's probably just The Others messing with the Dharma Initiative people again.

  3. I can't believe Lovaas wrote so many words without whining about Robert Simon, Cathy Hudgins, or the need to make Reston a town.

  4. Just Bought A Particleboard MansionDecember 27, 2010 at 2:52 PM

    I'm sure RELAC will petition the SCC for another rate hike to cover the costs of digging holes, tearing out phone lines excetera.

  5. water leaks?perhaps people check their 'water coolers'as was the advice given to me by the condo associations "Engineer".

  6. Or they could just use buckets and empty them when they are full

  7. no, all the buckets are currently being used!!!haha!


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