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Mama Deb
mamadeb
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Slytherin Dungeons

Why do people seem to believe that the dungeons are cold?

They're not only underground, they're under the Lake. They may be damp, but I would think that, far from being cold, they'd maintain the closest thing to an even temperature all year round. Water and earth are, after all, wonderful insulators.

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(no subject) - (Anonymous)

Actually, they *don't*. They don't seem to have caught onto the idea of central heating or even really bright room lighting - they're still using fireplaces, torches and candles.

In PS/SS, she talks about them freezing in the winter - going around in the corridors wearing winter cloaks, scarves and mittens.

"Warming charms", so far as I can see (I'd like to be corrected) are a fannish thing.

(no subject) - (Anonymous)

Not necessarily. A lot of places in Britain still don't have central heating, because it generally doesn't get too cold in the winter, unlike, say, the USA.

Really? I don't believe I've ever met someone that doesn't have central heating. Even my dilapidated 1930s student house has it. We can't afford to use it, but that's not the point.

That's interesting. We just got back from Scotland, and everyplace we went had radiators, so I assumed that was the U.K. standard. Is that not true? I'm curious.

(Apologies to mamadeb for getting off track. This just got me wondering.)

So am I! In my many years of UK dwelling, I can't recall anyone without central heating- my housemate has just chimed in to say that she knows about three people, but most of them are having it installed fairly soon. Our halls of residence last year didn't have any radiators, just big horrible storage heaters that didn't work, and this was fairly uncommon.

I'm also a bit confused by your comments- radiators but not central heating?

In the U.S., when we (well, I, at least) think of central heating, I think of forced-air heating--a single furnace that blows hot air through vents. In my experience, radiators aren't considered central heating But I'm from the midwest--that might be different in other parts of the country. Or it could just be me.

It gets down below 0 Fahrenheit here fairly often, and radiators just don't do the job.

I believe the dungeons must be the most comfortable place in all of Hogwarts in winter, thanks to the insulation.
And since they are inhabited most of the time (except during summer holidays), there are natural "heaters" (body temperature of the people being there), and the water and earth insulation make sure that this heat isn't lost.
(I hope this makes sense.)

My inlaws in Toronto have a basement that it insulated by the earth. It has an even temperature all year round. It's not warm. We snuggle under sofa throws to watch TV, even in the summer.

But that's probably relative, since anything below 65 in Georgia is "chilly".

Well, assume they're like large caves in terms of their thermal inertia - IIRC, most large cave structures (Mammoth Cave in Kentucky is the one that immediately comes to mind) have a constant temperature in the mid to upper 50's, summer and winter. That's definitely on the chilly side for human habitation!

I wonder if sofisticat has a point here, though. There are fire places. There are at least seventy kids for ten months out of the year. While I wouldn't expect the majority of the dungeons to be effected by that, surely the dorms and common room would be.

Thank you, I was going to use exactly that example. I've been to that cave system many times (I grew up in KY) and no matter how hot the day was, it was always wonderful in the caves. You usually got a bit chilly by the time you had been in there a few minutes.

I live in San Francisco Bay Area, and we have an average temp of 50 degrees year round. That means we can and do wear jackets and sweaters year round. Most places here don;t have central air, but we do have central heating because we need it so much more often. I imagine Scotland has similar weather, and that the dungeons are much like caves. I doubt that the suns warmth could penetrate that far down in the earth. Basements are usually cooler in the summertime, and properly heated, warmer. The key phrase being properly heated.

It would be an even, cool temperature all year round- like 50F or so, which is not comfy without a sweater. So Slyterin probably wear heavy robes or unershirts to keep warm.

BTW, many homes in Britain dont have central heating, and certainly most Castles do not! In fact, most Castles, without a fireplace, are draughty, uncomfortable places.

I'm just imagining that the dungeons wouldn't be drafty. :)

And there are heating sources - would that make a difference? (Also, I suspect much of the castle to be colder than 50F during the winter. So the dungeons would be cold, but the unheated spaces of the upper building would be colder.)

Heating sources only make a difference in closed rooms- and even then the dissipation is quick. That wy you see all those massive fireplaces burning away in English Country House films- it'c not cold the way you know and I know it (lots of snow, below zero) but it is cold and damp, sometimes even in the summer.



Just my personal experience from sleeping downstairs in my family's basement, the insulation helps, but you still end up rather cold. And stone or concrete will be very cold against your toes first thing in the morning, or anytime after the outside temps get cool.

Nod. I'd expect cold floors. They used stone floors as cooling mechanisms in stillrooms, even in the summer. That's where we get the phrase "stone cold".

No one runs around Hogwarts barefoot in the winter. I suspect fur slippers.

Maybe with stuffed bunny heads.

(no subject) - (Anonymous)

Water is an insulator? Since when?

Just because it's, well, in the way. Anything in between the colder air and warmer dungeon will insulate both from each other. At a guess, it's probably not as good an insulator as dirt. Things that trap more air tend to have better insulation properties -- i.e. goose down vs. its weight in wood. :)

Water does, in very LARGE amounts, tend to moderate extremes in temperature for the very reason you describe. It's just that it's gotta be damn cold for the buffering effect to be noticed in the *winter.* The areas along the shores of the Great Lakes are warmer in the winter than inland, as the water is often 32F while the air temperature might be, say, 10F. It takes a long time to cool off that much water. The water is warming up the nearby air as it loses heat. It's unusual for Lake Superior or Lake Michigan to freeze over by reason of BIG.

Of course, when it's 90F ten miles away in the summer, it might be 45F along the lake. And the water itself is usually just above freezing in June.

I don't know how much insulation effect a lake the size of the one at Hogwarts would have, but hey, it's magical!

(no subject) - (Anonymous)

I think you need to distinguish between an electrical conductor and a heat conductor. Water does conduct heat - but fairly slowly - and this is independent of contaminants. There was an experiment we did back in 8th grade - take a small test tube (about 3/8" in diameter) with about two inches of water in it - you can boil the water at one end while having chunks of ice at the other.

(no subject) - (Anonymous)

From what I recall of my college chemistry, any water soluble chemical raises the boiling point and lowers the freezing point of water - the amount is so reliable you can use it to figure out the molecular weight of an unknown compound. Until you get lots of contaminant - you probably need to get enough contaminant that you can feel the difference in the water before it affects the heat transfer at any gross level.

Water in large volumes acts as an insulator. It absorbs heat very slowly and releases it slowly. If you prefer, it modulates temperatures. It's why it's more comfortable to swim in the ocean in late September rather than early June (for those in the Northern Hemisphere), and why hurricane season is in the autumn.

Your experience just proves my point. The lower floors, being more insulated, maintained their coolness longer than the upper stories. If it got very hot at Hogwarts in the summer, the dungeons would still be cool, insulated by the earth and the Lake.



I prefer to write them muggy and humid, and laugh at canon evidence of otherwise. Hear me? LAUGH.

here via d_s

Cold-er is certainly right. Think about walking down into a cellar. You'll feel that it's a bit colder than the rest of the house. The difference may be less noticeable in winter, but it'll still be there.

Re: here via d_s

It's something I've noticed in the summer time, surely. A cellar is insulated against heat and will warm up more slowly in the summer time - when my older brother was in high school, my parents finished the basement of our house so he could live there and I could have my own room. He has a very low tolerance for heat and always has. He didn't need air conditioning in the summertime.

It's somewhat different in the winter becuase, while a basement might not be heated directly, it tends to be where the furnace lives - also the hot water heater, but that would be insulated.

The dungeons would have a more even temperature, so of course, they'd be cooler in the summer.

Re: here via d_s

Ah, but Hogwarts seems to have no boilers or furnaces, so the dungeons would still be cold in winter, as would the whole of the rest of the castle, even with the insulating effect of the earth. Also, the dungeons seem to be dark, so there's possibly a psychological effect, making people think it's colder than it actually is.Slytherins probably think the cold is character-building, though they'd never say so.

I never thought about it and just accepted that if JKR says that the dungeons are cold, then they're cold.

Now that you've asked the question, you could argue that it's cold down there because heat rises. All the humidity and warmth that could have accumulated in the dungeons dissipates throughout the rest of the castle. So, the dungeons aren't cold because they're underground; they're cold because there's a castle on top of them.

My wild theory? It's cold in the dungeons because most of the (unnamed and generally unseen) Hogwarts ghosts like it down there.