When the Furnace Dies

4 years ago

Monday 10:31 AM. The furnace guy just arrived. We are literally about to throw a party.

Earlier in the weekend (Friday to be exact), I broke down and turned on the furnace, rationalizing that recovering from a cold was a good reason. We've been enjoying very low bills this summer due to the cool weather and lack of AC running so I was loathe to break that cycle by cranking up the gas bill.

The thermostat (a bit dusty -opps) was still set to our cycles from last season so I just clicked "heat" and ... nothing. Uh oh. I flipped it from auto  to run in hope to force it to come on. It did. I took that as a good sign and figured I'd let the house warm up for awhile.

What I didn't do it check to see if it was blowing warm air. Sigh.

A few hours later, it just so happened that the temp was up to where I wanted it to be. I was happy and clicked the furnace back to "auto" and assumed I had somehow tricked it into working. 

Completely forgetting that the outside temp has risen in the meantime. 

The furnace didn't cycle on that evening or the next day, but it wasn't cold outside. 

Sunday, it was cold when we woke up. My partner Laura asked me about the furnace and I trotted down to the thermostat and clicked it on run. That's when the smart person in our family discovered the cold air/warm air issue. She sighed and tried changing batteries in the thermostat just in case. No dice. 

So we called the furnace company we've used for 11 years of home ownership. Typically, they do weekend visits, but they were booked. So we buttoned down for the night. 

Here's what this looks like - half of our pets are considered "elderly" which means they cannot be exposed to the cold and b/c of pet dementia, they don't even necessarily understand that they are. So we gathered everyone but one in the master bedroom with a space heater and figured we'd be fine as long as no one decided to pick a cat fight at 2 AM.

Our elderly dog has issues with steps so he sleeps in the living room on a dog bed. He's a big thick coated dog so we simply put out some extra cozy dog bedding and he was fine.

The furnace guy just told us that we need a new furnace to be installed on Wednesday. So we have to figure out what to do for the next two nights when the temps dip even further. 

This is not easy. Do we run a space heater in the living room overnight unattended? He's not likely to get near it, but he's also a bit unsteady sometimes so there could be a situation. 

Maybe I should sleep on the couch? That reduces my warmth by cat ratio, but I can always wear layers. Did I mention Tuesday is  my  birthday?  Fun, fun.

Then there's the fun of an 8+ hour repair day on Weds. Locking up everyone in a house that doesn't have many doors is also an exhausting chore. Cats in a bedroom with a litter box and water. Check. Skirmishes, screeches, things crashing to the ground around hour 5. Most likely.

Dogs in the living room, listening to "their" basement be dismantled. Check. Letting repairguys know every single time we have to use the backyard (they are seniors and one is a wee little dog - so this an hourly thing sometimes). Big fun. 

Then there are abstract issues. Like the giant special order dog crates I purchased in 2005 and are intended for Great Danes. We use them as drying racks now as the dogs don't go into the basement due to age. The furnace guy did some measurements because those crates don't collapse. And told me his team will stack them for us on replacement day because we couldn't lift them that high if we tried. 

A friend just brought us a few extra space heaters (there goes the electric bill) but all of the birthday plans have to be cancelled since we can't leave pets + space heaters home unattended in the evenings. 

I've decided that bribery will be in order on furnace installation day. I'll bribe the furnace guys with lots of good quality coffee (already checked that they do drink it) to smooth over pet induced delays in their work. I'll bribe the animals with low-salt, low-fat turkey from the Giant Eagle deli. It's like cat nip only more expensive. 

In the meantime, I guess we can enjoy some birthday cake with the comforting hum of space heaters, the lingering smell of burning dust and the gratitude of knowing we can (somehow) afford the repair itself.

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