Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Furnace furor

Waking up for another fulfilling day at work, I noticed it was quite cold in the house.Having lived in a sunny part of the world for the past 18 years, I am particularly sensitive to such atrocities and thought it must have been really cold outside, which would have been strange because it was only the first week of November.Looking out the window it didn't seem that cold, but it was sure cool in the family homestead.My wife, who was just returning from her morning exercise class, noticed it as well, so we began to explore the situation.Within seconds my sixth sense kicked in and I came to the brilliant conclusion that the furnace was not working.Had it been operating in its usual manner, there would have been this big whooshing sound when it got below a certain temperature because all furnaces make that whooshing sound moments before the sweet, soothing heat of a burning non-renewable resource fills the house.The whooshing sound was absent so that meant the heat was absent and that meant my toes were cold and I don't like having cold toes (really, who does?).I drew upon all of the expertise I had collected over the years when it came to furnace repair and set off to fix the problem, thus saving my family from having to endure the hardship of living in a home that was a little cooler than we would have preferred.First, I approached the thermostat. I stared at it for a second to evaluate the situation before gently tapping on the wall-mounted contraption.It didn't work, so I moved on to plan B: I moved the little lever thingy back and forth a few times thinking that might get things going, but still the gas-sucking giver of warmth in the basement refused to play along.Having exhausted my knowledge of thermostat maintenance and repair, I headed downstairs to check on the furnace itself. I knelt down to check the pilot light.Seeing it was burning away, I had officially reached the end of my ability to get a furnace to go whoosh and make heat.All the while, dollar signs were not really dancing through my head as much as they were smashing around like a cat trapped in a clothes dryer.I just knew it would be a major repair. I just knew the entire furnace was shot and I just knew it was going to cost thousands of dollars to fix.I started to think of how we were going to pay for it."Well, I guess the kids don't really need to go to university. Maybe a nice correspondence course or something. Perhaps something online from Paraguay."While thoughts of having to sell a lung to help pay for the new furnace crashed through my cranium, my oldest son walked over and said, "What about that switch, dad?"On the wall near the furnace was a switch with two words written on it: off and on.I may not know a lot about furnaces, but I do know a little about the English language and I knew those words just might play a role in solving this mystery.I felt I was on the right track, especially when you consider the switch was in the 'off' position."Houston, I think we found the problem."As soon as I flipped the switch, the furnace made the whooshing sound followed by the roaring sound that means heat is on the way.It was like the serenade of the first bird of spring as it sits in a tree while I sit on the deck sipping iced tea and marvelling at the wonders around me.I breathed a sigh of relief, but I kept the Paraguayan education system idea stored away for future reference, because you never know.My next question was, "If we have already used the furnace this year, how did it get switched off?"Seeing as it was Junior who brought the switch to my attention in the first place, I was pretty sure I had found the answer.His explanation was less than stellar."Well, um, I, aaaah, you see…."It turns out Junior was carrying a strip of plywood down the hall when he somehow hit the switch and accidentally turned it off, thus plunging our home into a marginally uncomfortable temperature zone.We all learned a lesson that day.I learned that I know absolutely nothing about furnace repair, my wife learned, well, basically, that I know absolutely nothing about furnace repair and Junior learned to watch out for rogue wall switches (and that his dad knows absolutely nothing about furnace repair.)

No comments: