This post is coming to you from the Great Frozen North. No, I’m not on vacation.

The furnace is dead.


It was seven degrees colder than usual in the house this morning, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you’re struggling to leave the warm cocoon of blankets, it feels like a seventy degree difference.

This will be our third winter in this house, and the furnace conks out every time we get an extreme cold snap, or whatever the seasonal equivalent is. This time, we had the first frost two and a half weeks ago, a little early for the area, and that was what did it.

Luckily-?- the furnace has died so many times that I know how not to freeze while I’m waiting for it to get fixed. Turn on the space heater, do a lot of baking or anything that requires using the oven, and move the warm cocoon of blankets with me. I look like a blob of jelly, trundling my way around the house, but I’m warm, and that’s what matters. Whoever invented fingerless gloves should be canonized. I know it’s a long process, but if we start today, it might finish up about the time the furnace is working again.

But wait- it gets better. According to the second HVAC crew who’s looked at it, the whole system was installed incorrectly, in such a way that it’s usable, but the airflow into the furnace is greatly restricted, forcing it to work harder and overheat. It’s also liable to drip any condensation onto the circuit board. Zap!

There’s a temporary fix for all of this- one that does not involve stringing up the installers by their toenails- and with any luck, I can eventually persuade the landlord to undertake the permanent fix of removing the furnace, flipping it around so it’s oriented correctly, and reinstalling it. It’s a big job, and probably not cheap, but it beats being without heat for two or three weeks every winter because the system keeps burning itself out.

So that’s my adventure for the past couple of weeks. How’s your life treating you?

13 thoughts on “Brr!

  1. Unpossible. It cannot be getting cold early, and this year cannot possibly be any colder than last year.

  2. Someone drove a car into my house. Seriously. I have a house that was under repair already and someone drove a car into it. Took out a brick wall, a brick fireplace and most of the kitchen.

    1. Someone burned down the old kitchen/slave quarters behind our (not yet moved to) house in Mississippi. The (empty) house itself is still intact. So far…

  3. One February we lost power for a week. Fortunately, between residual heat and a wood burning stove we could handle it. However, by day 5 all that residual heat was gone, and it got icy. Do we have a generator now? Yes. Yes, we do.

  4. A question for the landlord, I know but; is the furnace that was installed incorrectly under warranty? Because that makes it a free repair. And if not warranty how about a “come fix your defective installation” call? Still free. And if your landlord has more than one property, your landlord has clout. I hope.

    1. The fastest I ever had a landlord move was when 1) I said I had to pull the breaker to keep the heater from burning (dog-hair-filled blower motor. The repairman and I were impressed.) and 2) when I said, “Oh, and the electrical short is on the same circuit as the hard-wired smoke detector.” It’s all in how you phrase it.

  5. I’ve been having the usual Day Job frustrations, but that’s pretty mild. Granted, in 2021 it was new oven, new roof, new plumbing for a quarter of the house (when the floor abruptly rises half an inch per day? Ah, it’s not just something for the house leveler. Hi, Master Plumber and Friends!)

  6. Ouch… and yes, hit the landlord to FIX IT! Unplanned bathroom renovation, and dishwasher up and quit… Problem is, I have 12-20 people over EVERY Saturday for supper… sigh So lots of out of pocket expenses unplanned.

  7. I love living in the frozen north. We lived in Japan for a great many years, and the weather is more like coastal Carolina or Georgia, although since the winters don’t get TOO cold they don’t have insulation and homes are heated/cooled by room with no central system. So it would get quite chilly in our homes there and we would huddle in one of Japan’s greatest and least known inventions, the kotatsu, and my long winter breaks were spent napping in that amazing thing.

    Here in the frozen north, we had a pretty brief freezing and a storm that, up in the hills at least, dumped more than a foot of snow. It’s all been melting since, however. We’re in a string of 55-60F weekends with actual sun. Halloween looks like the first one we won’t need our winter jackets for since we moved back up here. It’s nice, but I’m one of the few people looking forward to brutal winters of subzero temps and several feet of snowfall…

  8. It wasn’t every winter, but every other that my furnace would give me some sort of issue.
    But I also just replaced my furnace . . . being me, I did it all myself, finding a New In Box 92% rated 120,000 btu Goodman for $900. My old one was not venting well and the manual reset flame rollout was auto resetting when cooled down, so I had thought it was some other reason, buying a new board (AC condensation was dripping on the board so it was rust stained), and putting it in a box, before realizing it was the venting (actually something in the burn chambers is restricting things), but the new one needs better venting then my marginal runs, so both intake and exhaust are now exhausts, and the intake is to be rerouted. Unlike the old one, the new one doesn’t have the sealed burn chamber, just the regular covers and a 2 inch intake hole (that they say must be hooked to a 3 inch minimum line, same for the exhaust) so even with a 2inch intake connected, it was the outlet side and the elbows used that restricted the burner venting. A sweeping 90° street elbow and a 90° with a tangential land a bunch of sheet metal got me all hooked up. Also, the AC unit is very undersized, even for the old furnace I’ll be replacing that as well, and I made the opening to the ducts quite bigger. Air now moves out of the ducts, instead of just sort of wafting.

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