Ever wonder why so many of the old radiators you see are painted silver? Back in the day, they were mostly plain grey metal, but then the Spanish Influenza arrived during the winter of 1918-19 and that changed everything. So many people died from this airborne virus that the Board of Health came out with a rule that we had to keep our windows open to prevent disease. Open-window ventilation led to huge radiators. When the Great Depression arrived, folks looked for ways to tone down those oversized radiators. Paint that contained flakes of metal (aluminum or bronze) had a way of cutting a radiator’s output by 20 percent so they started painting radiators that distinctive silver color. Funny thing is if you add a coat of ordinary paint on top of this, the radiator’s output goes right back to what it was. It’s true!