Fire and Ice

Sometimes your day just doesn’t turnout the way you thought that it would. I had planned to go for a bicycling ride, which I did, for 15 miles, but getting there was not without some mishap. Anne was still feeling under the weather today, so my first stop was at the grocery store for chicken soup, Kleenex and chocolate, don’t forget the chocolate. I was at the store when Anne called; the carbon-monoxide detector’s alarm had gone off. It had gone off, stopped, and then had gone off again. I told her to turn off the furnace and open the door, which she had already done. I hurriedly finished up shopping and then headed home.

At home, I determined that by running the furnace I could make the detector’s parts-per-million LED display go from zero to thirty. Anne said that it had been at 42 when the alarm was sounding. I called the gas company’s hotline and they said that they would send a repairman around as soon as possible. What transpired next was a little different. With the doors still open, I heard the sirens and silently prayed, “I hope that they are not coming here.” They were though. Closer and closer the Doppler effected sirens screamed. Everyone likes a parade and this one was coming to our house. Fire engine, ambulance and the fire chief’s truck trouped up to our front door. Nowadays, nine-out-of-ten emergency calls are medical in nature. Our call at least had the flavor of smoke. Actually, monoxide is odorless and colorless, but you catch my drift.

Two firemen separated from their throng, one normal size, one XXL. Padded with their full regalia, fireman’s suit, helmet and oxygen tank, the house never seemed smaller. With their handheld sniffers they confirmed that there was a monoxide leak, exonerating the detector and confirming all my fears. A neighbor told the firemen that she had smelled exhaust in her house, so they all trouped over there. They found nothing though, remember odorless and colorless. Another neighbor lady hugged Anne in relief that we were all right. All the while Anne, rather Typhoid Annie, is thinking you don’t want to be doing this. The spectacle eventually drew to a close, the fire engine and the ambulance both departed. The fire chief hung around though, waiting for Laclede Gas to show up, the people who I had actually called. Seriously, I think that he was afraid that if he left, I would run inside, close all the doors and windows and then turn the furnace up to ninety. Finally, the gasman arrived and the last of the firemen departed.

Laclede’s man repeated the tests that the firemen had performed and then some. The furnace’s core was leaking badly. Almost without a word, he proceeded to cap off the gas line to the furnace, with the implied threat, I can do it here or I can do it at the curb. So, there is no heat tonight. Fortunately, today was pleasant, in the seventies, and tonight it will only drop into the low fifties. The five-day forecast has temperatures rising into the eighties. It could be worse. It could be January. I’ve already called a half-dozen contractors and I have our first appointment on Monday morning at eight. I do not mourn our furnace; it has lived a very long life. There is no real way of knowing how old it was, but mine and the Laclede guy’s guesses were both forty years old. I look at this as another opportunity to help jumpstart the economy, dammit.

7 thoughts on “Fire and Ice

  1. @DM, not near as seriously as the firemen, but then I’ve never had to haul anyone out of their house under a sheet.

    @Jay, I forgot to mention that Consumer Reports rated all of the major furnace manufacturers “statistically equal” in quality.

  2. Dear Jay and Anne – things do happen in 3’s! I had to replace the battery in my smoke alarm. 😉 as for furnace – hey – I rent.

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