Tuesday, January 17, 2017

...But there is a great big ARRRRRRR!

"No news is good news," they say, but whoever does say that probably isn't freezing their buns off waiting to find out when their furnace is going to be fixed. I, however, am.

On Friday, when I hadn't heard anything from the warranty company regarding my claim for my pooped-out furnace, I called them. At 4:00 in the afternoon, I finally got the news: despite having had a whole day to do it, my furnace technician had not yet contacted my warranty company with a status report, and without a report, my warranty company could not move forward with authorizing the repair. This news was assuredly not good. Perhaps "no news" would have actually been better, as in that case, my ignorance could have possibly been bliss. Now I'm not feeling bliss so much as a seething rage.

At that time, I was told by the HMS representative that I might have to wait up to 48 hours for any kind of response. At 54 hours, I called again, and was given the heartening news that the report still had not been filed, and they would call me as soon as they had an update. Meanwhile the temperature outside was 32 degrees. For something that qualified as an "emergency" 3 days before, it certainly seemed to be of no importance to anyone now.

Finally, Monday morning, I was notified that my claim had gone to their "research department," to determine whether my policy would cover the replacement. When asked how long that would take, the representative guessed it would probably be about one business day.

Well, thanks, HMS! I may not have any heat, but by now, I could probably construct a cozy snowsuit out of red tape.

How does someone function under conditions like these? Well, let me tell you!

Something that I learned from the technician's visit was that if your furnace is overheating, it might not be enough to just turn it off and back on again (the first trick that every IT professional turns to when trying to solve a problem). The rollout switch (the thing responsible for turning off the burners when it overheats) needs to be reset by hand, and can't be accessed without taking the front plate off the unit. The tech showed me the flames "rolling out" (how the switch gets its name) as well as how to reach in underneath (when the burners are no longer lit, of course!) and reset the switch. 

As he was speaking, you could see his face change as he realized, "OMG, I'm just teaching this nice lady how to set her house on fire." As he kept talking, his advice changed from, "Here's how to do it," to "You should probably only do this when you can be downstairs to keep an eye on it, " to "You really shouldn't do this at all."

But it was too late! I did it! I'm not going to let a little fire hazard stand between me and being warm!

So, since the tech's visit, I began visiting my furnace every time it crapped out, to reset the rollout switch and give my geriatric piece of HVAC equipment another chance at life. When the tech came, the furnace only would run for 10-15 minutes before overheating, so as you can imagine, it never got very warm in the house, and I was required to be constantly on the alert for cold-air-blowing (as well as, I guess, fires). It wasn't long, though, before I learned a trick to make this process more efficient.

When I began writing my last blog post and started looking online for the names of furnace parts so I could accurately describe what was going on, I ran across this tidbit of advice: "Do not close off more than 20 percent of the registers in your house. This can cause high resistance and unnecessary heat build-up in the furnace." Well, shiver me timbers! As a rule, I have always closed almost all the registers in my house (the better to keep a tropical level of heat, but only in the rooms I spend the most time in). I decided to open a couple of the vents and see if this would enable the furnace to run longer.

It seemed to work! Friday evening, the furnace ran consistently right up until its scheduled shutoff time. Saturday morning, I had less luck—I had to reset the rollout switch one time, but after that, it was smooth sailing.

That is, until the carbon monoxide detector went off. I'll keep this part brief so as not to terrify those who value my life, but suffice it to say that no one was harmed by any toxic fumes. Since the carbon monoxide incident on Friday, I've been much more creative with my thermal maintenance.

My new strategy for keeping warm involves lots of strategic window-covering and uncovering (not particularly helpful on a gloomy day like today), 2 space heaters, a heat lamp, and liberal use of the oven.

This has kept the house a nice toasty 58 degrees (its lowest temp so far was 54, which is what the thermostat read when I got up this morning), and I hope it will do the job until my replacement furnace arrives on (fingers crossed!) Thursday.

I have to give HMS credit; while it took forever and a day for the HVAC people to send in the proper forms (or whatever mysterious behind-the-scenes things they do when submitting claims to HMS), it was only a matter of hours from the time my claim went to the research department, before I received another call to let me know my claim would be covered.

That's right, I'm getting a new furnace for free! Free plus 1,567 dollars in required upgrades and modifications.