05 December 2005

So this home owner thing..

.. yeah. This weekend I had the first of what will undoubtedly be many "not liking this whole home owner thing" moments.

Our furnace was broken. Not majorly, but enough. What's worse, we're pretty sure it's been broken all along, but we didn't notice it until it got *really* cold out. See, we have a forced-air furnace with old duct work and really big vents in most of the rooms in the house. And it's been a fairly mild winter so far, so the outside temperatures have been above freezing more often than not. And so long as the outside temps were above freezing, the heat in the house was about where we wanted it (67 degrees in the day when we're gone and at night when we're sleeping; 70 when we're home). We commented a couple times on how quiet our furnace appeared to be, but didn't dig into that thought deeper because there didn't seem to be an apparent problem with the heat in the house.

Jump to last weekend, the weekend after Thanksgiving, the first weekend the temps dropped below freezing for a couple days in a row. I noticed that the living room was rather chilly and that the termostat was only reading at 63 degrees despite it being set to 70. And the vents in the bathroom and laundry room are *cold*.

Okay, so I go poke about and note that the furnace is working - it lights and there's a motor that comes on and seems to blow air - but that the warm air isn't really.. going as far as it should. Namely, the new(ish) addition that was put on the house in 2001 isn't getting any heat, thus the cold vents.

The new(ish) addition that includes the main bathroom isn't getting any heat. Showering in a bathroom that's below 60 degrees is darned cold, no matter how hot the water gets.

And it seems that the furnace is coming on every 15 or so minutes, but only for about 45 to 60 seconds at a time. Odd. (You all remember that we're new at all this owning your own home and all the appliances and such, right..?)

So we fiddle with the thermostat and knock it up to 75 and the heat in the house starts to come up and the outside weather warms up and we thought all was good, we pr'bly just had something wonky in the thermostat, but that it could wait until we could afford to have it replaced, sometime about February.

Until this weekend. When the temperatures drop below freezing again. And the house temperature plummets back down to the low 60's. Right. That's no good. Go poke around again, decide a call to dad is in order, sit on the phone next to the furnace with dad so he can hear it go through it's little 45 to 60 second cycle and listen to him explain the functionings of a gas furnace. Huh. There's a bigger motor underneath the little motor, you say? Who knew? Okay, so dad diagnoses that our blower motor isn't kicking over - we can hear it try to click-click, but no hot blowing action occurs.

This is Saturday afternoon. There's one heating/cool/refrigeration place in our town and they're closed until 7 a.m. Monday. Okay, not a huge deal, the house is warm enough if we stay bundled up (thank goodness we had all the windows replaced in October though!), so we decide to gut it out. This is not really difficult - we have lots of blankets and lots of warm clothing - but starts my head spinning about how the furnace has pr'bly been trying to heat the house to 67-70 degrees for *weeks* without a blower motor, which means it's been coming on every 10 to 45 minutes for 45 to 60 seconds at a time.. and the gas bill is looming very large and unknown and figures like $500 are running through my head.

The anti-climax came this morning - 7 a.m. call to the heating guys, 7:45 a.m. arrival by said heating guys, found a cracked solder connection, repaired, house back up to 70 degrees by 9 a.m. (at which point it got turned back down to 67 for the day while we're gone). In the end, it's going to cost us pr'bly around $50 and is now fixed, which is a *huge* relief.

Except for that still-lurking gas bill.. *sigh*


1 comment:

Mikey said...

The 'nice' thing I've discovered over the years is that most furnace failures turn out to be relatively simple and cheap things that amount to wear-and-tear on individual parts, rather than full-blown catastrophic failures. Ours has one particular el-cheapo part that seems to fail every year or so. We have Service Plus, so Minnegasco comes out and replaces it and goes on their merry way without a blink. I keep expecting them to say, "What, you again?" but they haven't yet.