It's not about the house.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

How Long Till Springtime?

While I wait for the plumber to not show up until I've left for work, I'll fill in a little background on the whole furnace fiasco...

The furnace was new when we bought the house. Not brand-spanking, but enough that with any luck (oh, I am a riot, aren't I?) we wouldn't have to replace it before the fixed rate on our mortgage expired and we had to move along.

Shortly after we moved in, a stranger stopped by and said that she was the one who'd arranged to have the furnace installed for the old lady who'd lived (and died) here. This lady said she still had all the paperwork at home and she promised to bring it over. At least, I think she did. We may have made her up. We didn't catch her name and we never saw her again (maybe it was the lady who used to live here...), but we've come to find out it doesn't matter anyway, because once you buy the house you void the furnace warranty. Apparently there's some sort of vibe surrounding Closing Day that messes the furnace up so bad - kind of like sticking a tuna sandwich in the VCR - that there's no way the manufacturer can continue to vouch for its reliability.

Anyway, we had it serviced right away. May 28, 2004 - a date I remember because a year and one day later the basement filled up with dense black smoke and (after I called the guys) I went to my check register to see exactly how long it had been. When the guys came they said it was just due for servicing. I knew it had to be done every year but I thought it was odd that it would become such a black-smoke emergency on day 366. They didn't seem concerned, though, so why worry?

The next winter we came to suspect that these folks - well, we got a few deliveries that were supposedly bigger than our tank - let's give them the benefit of the doubt and say they didn't have the most accurate gauge on their oil truck. So I threw a dart at the phone book and picked a new company. Signing up with them included one free service on the boiler, and when they came (in June, I think) they found parts that needed replacing to the tune of $265. Ah well, better to have caught it, right?

Then, over this past Thanksgiving, we noticed black soot stains on the chimney pipe. The pipe was one of the parts replaced for that $265, so we were sure the stains were new. Since it was the holiday weekend and we didn't want to pay emergency prices for something we went ahead and assumed was not an emergency, Johnny asked a friend (who does this for a living, who is neither retired nor disabled, and who he did meet at the pub but who was not drunk at the time) to take a look at it.

Well, Friend opened up the furnace and discovered he was the first to ever do so. Certainly in the three years we've owned the house, and probably much longer than that, no one who had been paid to service the boiler had ever bothered to open the thing up and clean the soot out. It was packed with gunk and the cast iron was corroding away because of it. Freind's advice at the time was to replace it immediately because he couldn't promise it would last the winter. We didn't have however many thousands of dollars it would take to replace the furnace (and this was all before we found out about the chimney), so first we tried talking to both "service" companies who'd shafted us and then the furnace manufacturer. Then we decided the best plan was to curl up in little defeated balls, hope for the best and wait for spring to come.

We've spent the last few months looking into boilers, wood stoves, oil companies, Airstream trailers and one-way tickets to Tahiti. For some reason, we decided to go with gas. I don't remember why anymore, and anyway, I've got to go to work...

1 comment:

Whoop boom said...

I am still curled up in the fetl position!