Monday, December 5, 2011

Heating and Air Conditioning, Part 1

There are a number of problems with buying a house.  Since the housing crisis, mortgages are insanely hard to get, it’s hard to get down payments together, and (if you live in California) Prop 13 will kill you with property taxes.  The worst thing about owning a house is that you are responsible for fixing everything that breaks.

My house breaks a lot.
There were only sixteen other bids!
On Saturday, between fixing the dishwasher, the kitchen drawer handles, the vacuum cleaner, and the bed (as well as scheduling my sons’ swimming and Mandarin classes, playdates, and doing everything else parents do) I noticed the furnace hadn’t turned on in a while.  I checked the thermostat, which said it was telling the heat to turn on but the furnace was refusing to comply.
My next thermostat.  "Raise the heat; you have fifteen seconds to comply."
I walked over to the furnace and checked it out.  Ten minutes later I realized I had no idea what I was looking for.  I called our contractor who took time out of his busy schedule of counting the money I paid him and sent over his friend who worked in heating and air conditioning.

First, he opened up the filters and explained that I had three filters for the furnace and I should have only had one.  Then he showed me the disturbingly thick mat of gunk that covered up the first filters.
“That’s your problem,” he said, “there’s several years of dust built up in there.”

I looked more closely at the gunk, not believing we could have had that much dust in the three years we had been there.  Then I noticed the composition of the dust.

It was all cat hair.  In one year, our two fuzzy cats had choked the furnace to death.  I considered returning the favor.
I don't care if my wife thinks you're "fuzzy wuzzy woo woo!"  You cost me three thousand dollars!
Once the filter was removed, the furnace kicked back in again, and he checked it out with his flashlight.  He was impressed that it had lasted so long (it had been installed in the mid-70s) and then whistled.  He pointed at some long brown lines in the back of the furnace.

They were cracks.  The furnace had been pumping carbon monoxide into the house.

“I’m sorry,” he said.  “Legally, I can’t just leave this thing on.”

Then he reached up and turned a handle.  Our furnace died one final time.


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