Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Now You're Getting Warmer

As with our air conditioner in August, we had a little warning with our heater in January, at least in retrospect. Optimism is such a tempting drug that it rarely allows me to heed warnings ahead of time. When the heat conked out a few times but turned back on easily when Paul flipped the unit off then back on again, we didn't worry too much about it. There was always some other excuse we could make fit: the way the filter was installed, the winter/summer moisture setting, the gas company coming out to test our lines, etc.

But it wasn't any of those things; it was a little teeny wire sensor dealie on the heater itself. And the unit is only 10 years old and in good shape, far from needing to be replaced. There was just this one little malfunctioning part. That turned out to be very expensive to replace. $600 of expensive, during the coldest snap of the winter so far. Waiting was not an option, going without heat was not an option. Still, I called Paul who Googled up a storm to determine that we weren't being robbed blind. We weren't. But even if we were, I probably would have written the check just for some heat. By the time the repair guys got to our house, it was about 50 degrees inside, even with a roaring fire in the fireplace and sunlight streaming through the windows, and 11 degrees outside, with nightfall coming.

We have a very large fireplace. You could maybe roast a small pig in there with no problem. But the flue design seems a little faulty. Although we recently had the chimney professionally cleaned (it was in great shape, apparently) and do know how to work the flue, for some reason more smoke and cold air seem to blow in than out when we have a fire. Alas.

Anyway, the repair was quickly and easily accomplished and we had heat to ride out the rest of last week's cold snap. This week, it's supposed to get up into the 50's. Ah, winter in St. Louis. (On the plus side, the girls and I went with friends to the zoo on Monday and despite it being a holiday we had the place almost to ourselves because of temperatures in the 20's.) Now if only we could put aside both the warmth and ice for a while and have a couple of nice good snows! I miss snow. And money. But let's focus on the snow, shall we?


Amy said...

Oh, we had the same thing happen when I was pregnant with Claire... I spent a couple of cold days with MG in the kitchen (where the fireplace is) with quilts hung over the doorway opening to the rest of the house. Those were long, chilly days.

We kick started the furnace several times after waking up to a 50 degree house (because it stopped in the night). We ended up replacing the furnace, because it was 20+ years old, and by the time we replaced the part (it sounds like you're talking about the same part, odd) it was halfway to the cost of a new furnace.

As for your fireplace, are you warming the air in the chimney before you start it? BJ will take a burning piece of newspaper and hold it up, as high as he can reach, in the chimney. Then, just before he burns his fingers, he'll use that as kindling to start the fire. I guess it helps the chimney "draw" - he's a boyscout, so I trust his judgment on all things related to fire building. I could have him send you more detailed instructions.

God provides. I predict that you'll get unexpected money to cover the unexpected expense somehow in the next couple of weeks.

Stay warm!

Kathy G said...

I've been to the Zoo a couple of times in the cold weather and it's magical...the animals were more active and there were no people to speak of.

I don't mind being out in the cold weather as long as I'm dressed correctly. Years ago I used to do playground duty at the boys' elementary school. Eight grades worth of recess lasted two hours.

Right before I had to leave home, I'd put on layers-long underwear and lined "swishy" pants, sock liners, socks and boots, and several layers on top. I even had special hats and gloves. The time went by without a problem.

Barrie said...

I do not like to be cold. I would definitely pay $600 for some heat. :)