It is the small simple things of life that bring us peace.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Trouble with the furnace

It is always a good idea to have an assortment of batteries on hand, not too many but just a small assortment of the usual sizes.  You never know when you'll need them and I found that to be true tonight.

The temperature has dropped steadily all  day.  By the time I got home it was around 40 degrees with an even lower wind chill.  Brrr, it was cold!  While the dogs were outside I left the inside back door open (I know, not energy smart but I do it anyway).  When they came in I thought to myself that it was too chilly to be doing that, but I knew that the heat would be running and quickly overcome the chill.  But a few minutes later it was still chilly so I checked the thermostat.  That's when I realized there was trouble - the screen was blank, nada, zip.  So after flipping the switch from heat to off to cold and back again and no response I was thinking, "oh no, oh no" to myself.  Time to troubleshoot.

First stop was the breaker box in the garage.  Maybe it just needed to be reset to start the blower.  No such luck, still nothing on the thermostat.  Next idea was to check the inside unit (at this point I was thankful that I insisted on a house with an inside unit and not one in the attic).  I suspected that the pilot light had gone out and I would have to re-light.  I do not like messing with gas and remembered from another house that it was a three handed operation.  When I opened the door there was no glow through the little openings in the unit, so I thought that was the problem.  I was relieved to read the instructions on the door and find that the unit had a starter.  All it involved were a few easy steps to turn it off and then re-start. 

Easy enough I thought, but how do you get this thing open?  After a quick look on either side I determined that all I needed to do was pull the door off by pulling toward me. What I didn't realize was that the door was in two pieces.  I gave a pull on the middle of the door and then ka-whop I was hit in the face with what turned out to be the top door.  Specifically the top edge of the door caught the bridge of my nose.  I cannot even describe the pain I felt, it was tremendous, yet I managed to catch both doors before they hit the wood floor below.  Still in pain I managed to find the control knob and shut off the gas. 

While I waited to reset the pilot light I checked my nose.  Not too bad, just two red marks on my nose.  But what pain, almost a numbing pain that was breathtaking at the same time.  I attributed it to the sensitivity of the nose area and went back to getting the heat going. But the heat did not get going.  What am I going to do?  A fire in the fireplace would keep the living room okay for the evening and I could put extra covers on the bed.  The cats would snuggle in with me, but the dogs would be cold and I knew that I couldn't leave them in the bathroom with the overhead heater going all night either.  And, it would be really cold in the house by morning.  Brrrr.  And no hotel is going to let 4 yapping dachshunds stay over, not for any price.

I have a service contract with a local company to take care of the HVAC unit.  I checked on line to see what their hours are and thankfully they are open until 7 p.m.  A quick call and the guy on the line told me he might be able to get someone out this evening, and if not, first thing tomorrow.  Then I started describing what was wrong and what I had done (less the story about my nose injury).  After some discussion he asked again about the thermostat.  And then he told me that sometimes when thermostats go blank that all that is wrong is that the batteries need replacing.  What?  Batteries in this thing?  He told me to pull off the cover, and there they were.  Two corroded AA batteries. 

A quick trip to the pantry where the assortment of batteries waited, a quick replacement, and ta da those little numbers popped up and I heard the unit click on.  I was thankful that the batteries were a common size and not like the smoke detectors or garage door remote that use an odd size that I never have.  I was also thankful to have heat again and thought of those that do not.  I could have survived the night if I had had to, but I was very thankful that the problem was solved.  Hopefully, my nose won't look too bad in the morning.  I'm still in pain and have a headache.  Oh well, at least I'm warm.
Thanksgiving morning, 2013


  1. Awww! I’m sorry about what happened to your nose. Anyway, it’s nice that you got the heat going on again. Most furnaces do require some batteries to work. Good thing you had some on hand and you got yours working again in no time. :D
    Adam Payne @ Williams Mechanical

  2. It’s a good thing your HVAC guy was able to inform you about the problem right away, otherwise you would have spent more time trying to figure out what was wrong with your furnace. It’s also great that you have kept spare batteries all along, making the fix that much easier. I'm sorry to hear about your nose, though. I hope it wasn't hit too hard that time. Anyway, thanks for sharing this with us, Beth. All the best!

    Antonia Tran @ Mode Heating & Cooling