As weeks go this one hasn’t been the greatest. On last Sunday night the weather forecast was for overnight temperatures near thirty below zero and strong winds that would make the wind chill temperatures even lower. The house was warm and cozy when we went to bed… when we woke up it was COLD!!!
Our furnace is set to maintain a certain range of temperatures so the coldness we were feeling was unusual, but the reality that something was very wrong didn’t sink in immediately because we knew how terribly cold it was outside. Then we discovered we had frozen water pipes and just to make everything perfect… frozen drains as well. And when we went to turn the thermostat on the furnace up a notch, we found that the furnace wasn’t sending out any heat at all… and in fact was frantically blinking out its little error message to indicate that it had stopped running entirely.
It was not the best way to start the day. We weren’t sure what to tackle first, but it seemed that the furnace and lack of heat was our most pressing problem. My husband installed this furnace nearly twenty years ago and he has done all the maintenance and any repairs it has needed, so he knows it well. We were hoping that the problem was something mechanical or electrical because we knew my husband could fix those… but those hopes died when he traced the problem to a combustion fan that had stopped working even though it was receiving electrical current. Unfortunately, this combustion fan is part of a plug-in assembly that is replaced as a unit, not repaired.
It feels like we have spent most of our time since then trying to find a source for this plug-in assembly. I think we must have talked to every supplier in this country who sells this brand of furnace, and all of them say they cannot order this part because it no longer exists. Apparently in later models this electronic plug-in assembly has been redesigned and replaced by another assembly that is not compatible with the older furnaces. We just heard back from the last supplier on our list, and he also can’t find a replacement. It looks like we will have to buy a new furnace.
But back to Monday morning. It took hours, but we eventually got the drains and water pipes thawed… and then we discovered that we had yet another problem. Our largest freezer also had stopped working sometime after Sunday evening. We think there must have been another electrical surge in our power lines that “fried” the freezer motor… and probably that electronic assembly in the furnace too. It just seems like too big a coincidence that both would suddenly “die” during the same night, and we have been having problems with electrical surges here for some time. Even though we have all our major appliances plugged into surge protectors, during the past few years we have had three computer modems, a fax machine, a DVD recorder, and now the freezer and furnace ruined when too much current has “accidentally” been sent through the line. The electric company periodically acknowledges the surges and apologizes. Somehow that doesn’t seem like enough.
It’s been a discouraging week. I guess we should feel fortunate that it is so cold outside and all the frozen food that was in the freezer will stay frozen in containers buried in the snow until our new freezer arrives. And although one floor of our house is very cold, the wood stove is working overtime to keep the other rooms comfy and warm. We’re looking at some major expenses, and that hurts, but at least we have the money saved for emergencies like these.
Things could be a whole lot worse.