Monday, April 16, 2012

Of Uninteresting Things, That Turn Out to be Rather Essential

This attractive pile of scrap, dear friends, is the mortal remains of our furnace. And therein lies a tale (for which, thankfully, I have a captive audience, as I doubt otherwise anyone would want to hear it). For several weeks, I've been smelling an odd smell outside our house. And no, smarty-pants, it's NOT US. It was a metallic-y smell, and I assumed it was something to do with the cherry orchard on our property, which sometimes smells a bit odd after it's sprayed (and yes, I know that means I'm inhaling nasty chemicals. Why do you think we are trying to move?). It occurred to me two weeks ago that I'd been smelling it for a LONG time. I mentioned it to Scott; he thought our septic wasn't venting properly, perhaps? And then it struck me -- I was smelling propane. But outside, not inside the house. Our furnace is propane. Hmm. I considered the possibility of the house lifting off in Wizard-of-Oz fashion with me inside.

I called our very nice propane delivery man, who promised to come take a look. In a few hours, he was there, and came across the yard to say our propane tank was not leaking, but by the way, we had used an entire tank of propane in less than a month (that's $614 worth of propane, for those of you scoring at home). It's been a cold spring, but not that cold, friends.

Propane Man called his friend, who knows lots about furnaces (THIS is what I love about living in a small town -- fifteen minutes and your house is full of knowledgeable people who are checking things for free, bless their hearts!). Furnace Man began to poke around outside the house where our propane furnace vents. Then he called me outside. "See that stuff dripping out that vent?" he asked. "Stick your finger under it and then smell it ... no, never mind, your finger will stink forever. I'll just tell you. It's dripping propane."


The vent is supposed to drip condensation only. My razor-sharp mind senses a problem.

Excitement ensued. Furnace turned off. Furnace ripped out. Furnace turned out to be a rebuild of the lowest quality. Furnace had gotten so hot it had melted its own pipes. We're glad we were never melted in the process ourselves.

You wouldn't believe how chilly things get when you're depending on space heaters in a 99-year-old house for three days in 45-degree-high weather. We shut up the upstairs and the kids slept in the living room, but it was still 60 degrees max during the day. I tried to imagine I merely lived in a Scottish castle with stone walls, but it didn't help at all.

At the end of the whole process we had this very handsome piece of home heating equipment:

If we ever get this house sold and move out to our property and get THAT house built, we're putting in a woodstove and a *supplementary* furnace. Without sounding like a survivalist, being entirely dependent on modern heating options is an excellent way to have to pretend you live in a Scottish castle. My chilblains are healing nicely.

So, obviously, we are very thankful we didn't explode, and we are also thankful for our lovely furnace. On a cheery note, here is a picture of the Flower Princess (self-named), who was flitting about our property Sabbath afternoon -- I took the kids out there to run around.

It was warm, sunny, and lovely, and the old daffodils that someone planted many years ago were blooming. The kids puttered about, the dog puttered about, and everyone got happily dirty. That's the sign of a good day.
Love, kristin

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