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Mike Redmond Column

Please refer to the Mike Redmond Column main page for columns published in other issues.
Mike can be contacted via e-mail at mike@mikeredmondonline.com.

 

 

 

 Fickle Furnace Certainly 'Reliable'

The weather took a turn for the frigid, so naturally my furnace took a turn for the dead.

Twice. In one week.

It’s just a suspicion, but something tells me I am not dealing with the finest example of 21st Century Home Comfort here.

Every time the weather gets extreme, I can pretty much count on my heating and cooling system to roll over and conk out. We’re talking doornail here, as in dead-as-a, winter and summer.

When the temperature gets into the upper 90s, ol’ Blowhard is guaranteed to make some sort of whanging noise and stop producing cool, conditioned air. And if the temperature gets into the single digits, as it did recently, it can be counted on to produce another whanging noise and stop producing heat. Just by way of information, I have noted that the summer whanging noise and the winter whanging noise are in different keys.

Oh, well. I’ll say this: The guy who sold it to me said it was dependable, and it is. Just not in the way I had imagined.

This isn’t the first time it has conked out in the cold, of course. Oh, no. It has been doing that since the day after the warranty expired. But this time it seemed especially uncomfortable, for some reason. What am I saying? It was so cold in here that you got warm by opening the refrigerator.

Now, it is true that I come from the farthest northern outpost of Indiana, LaGrange County. The ancestral home is about three miles from the Michigan state line and it does get cold up there. It’s actually closer to Canada than it is to Indianapolis.

When I was a kid, the rule of thumb was that it isn’t really cold until the inside of your nose freezes. While you’re indoors.

Our house was heated by a coal furnace, a stoker. My mother laid down three rules about the stoker:

        1. I was to keep the hopper filled;

        2. I was to remove any and all clinkers (for the uninitiated, the residue from the burnt coal); and

        3. Only the girls were allowed to stand over the floor register in the kitchen to get warm in the mornings. Boys were expected to keep warm with all that shoveling and clinkering.

If I raised an objection, I was told to file it all away - the cold, the coal and the clinkers - under "Character-Building Experiences." If I persisted, my mother would then deliver the conversational coup de grace, the one phrase that was guaranteed to stop me in my tracks:

"Grandpa McKenzie would be terribly disappointed to see you acting like this."

Worked every time. As did the furnace. That thing never broke down.

Anyway, back to the cold. The first time the furnace kicked, a young fellow from the We Fix Furnaces company came out, replaced a part and got it fired up again, a mere 24 shivering hours after I made the call.

And then, a week later almost to the minute, something else gorked. Another call, another technician, another part. Oh, and another 24 hours.

Now the house is warm again. I think it’s going to stay that way, too. For one thing, my furnace is practically all new parts. For another, after the second repairman left, I told it that Grandpa Stoker would be very disappointed to see it acting like this.

 

 

 

© 2010 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.