“When anybody asks, 'What are you writing about now?' if I try to reply, the book-in-the-works sounds so idiotic to me that I think, 'Why am I trying to write that puerile junk?' So now I give up; if I could talk about it, I wouldn't have to write it."
- Madeleine L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet


Adventures in Heatlessness

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

When the time was coming close for the Geek and I to move into our new house, we decided to spend a few days painting the interior before we officially moved in. That would eliminate the problems of painting around furniture and trying to keep pets from getting paint on themselves and then distributing it all around the house in inappropriate places.

On October 31st we drove out and got started. The builder was here finishing up a few things and the water was not on yet, but we knew that might be the case so we bought a case of bottled water, set up the air mattress on the bedroom floor, and prepared to “rough it” for a few days.

That night it started cooling off and we realized that the furnace wasn’t running. Great. Well, at least we had sleeping bags that were rated down to 15 degrees, and it wasn’t all that cold yet. I think outside it was getting down into the 40s outside at that time.

The next morning when the builder showed up we asked him about it. Turns out that the furnace wasn’t on. There’s a switch on the furnace itself that looks like a light switch and turns it on and off. We had no idea we would have to turn on the furnace. Don’t those kind of things just work?

A few days later the house was all painted; the furniture had been moved in, thanks to some very helpful friends; and the contractors were (mostly) finished with the house. We settled in for a good night’s sleep in our very own bed in our very own house...and realized that once again we had no heat.

The builder got the furnace guy out to look at it. This time the cover was on wrong. We have no idea who took the cover off and then put it on the wrong way. Maybe some fiendish fairy living in our basement? Who knows. Anyway, since the cover was on incorrectly it wasn’t hitting a switch inside the furnace which detects if the cover is installed correctly. Once the problem was rectified, the furnace started purring happily again.

Until a couple weeks ago. We came home from work one night and the thermostat read 65 degrees. Not freezing cold, but since it was set to 68 it seemed strange that the furnace wasn’t running. The Geek investigated but could find nothing wrong, so he flipped the “cool/off/heat” switch on the thermostat to “off” and then back to “heat”, and voila! The heat was back again.

But alas, our problem was not solved. Every day or two the same problem would recur and we would flip the switch off and on again. After a while it started taking 2 or 3 tries to get it to work. The Geek checked out the manual which told him there was a blinking light that indicates problems. It was blinking 7 times and then pausing which meant that the furnace wasn’t getting gas.

So we added it to the list of things that need fixing and sent it off in an email to the builder. He answered back that he was trying to reach the furnace guy and would send him over. He also gave us the furnace guy’s number so we could call him ourselves if necessary.

That night, which was Monday of this week, it happened again.

We flipped the switch.


Flipped it again.




Are you noticing a pattern here?

Now in case you don't know, we live in the upper midwest where it’s really cold this time of year. In fact we are having some unseasonably cold weather. The night time temps are down around 0. Yes 0. And that’s Fahrenheit, not Celsius. But we didn’t know what else to do at 9:30 p.m. so we went to bed and huddled down under our comforter.

By the next morning, which was yesterday, the furnace still hadn’t kicked in and it was 57 degrees. The Geek decided to stay home and make sure we were able to get someone out to fix the problem since the temperature in our house seemed to be going down at a rate of about 1 degree per hour. With a little boiling water on the stove, and some pizza rolls in the oven, he managed to keep the temp from dropping below 57 while he called the furnace guy and the builder and left them both messages.

The furnace guy showed up around noon, about 1/2 hour after the furnace had spontaneously started working again. He opened it up and found a piece of debris between the gas line and the regulator which was blocking the gas from getting through – but only sometimes. Sometimes it would shift and let gas through, which is why we could sometimes get it to work. He blew out the debris, checked a couple other things to be sure that was the only problem, informed the Geek that we could call him anytime (including late at night) if our furnace ever went out again, and was on his way.

Last night our house was cozy and warm and continues to be so today. Here’s to hoping it stays that way!

Tune in tomorrow for Adventures in Waterlessness!!

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