Friday, January 16, 2009

Snug again

Today was dominated by the drama of our furnace. You may recall back right before Christmas that we discovered our heat was more like our cold. After a tense couple of days -- the coldest of the winter so far -- workmen brought our ancient furnace back to life (at a hefty price tag). We were resigned to buying a new heater as soon as winter was over, knowing that the lifespan of our 21-year-old dinosaur was over.

Earlier this week, right before Noel was scheduled to leave for Sundance, we noticed that the furnace seemed to be running for longer and longer before the fan came on to blow the hot air out. By yesterday, it was churning continuously, and even though there was record cold outside (they always pick the best times to self-destruct, don't they?), the blower only came on for a few minutes every hour. I checked the thermometer -- a full ten degrees below the thermostat setting. We were getting a little heat every once in a while, but not enough to keep up with the single-digit chill outside.

I spent the day at work fretting about the repair. It seemed ridiculous to throw any more money into this furnace when we were just going to replace it a few months hence, but we couldn't get a new unit in today, and the house would have been uninhabitable tonight (at its lowest, the inside temp was 50 degrees and dropping). And even after I made the decision to spend another few hundred dollars for an immediate fix, there was no guarantee that (a) the repairman would be able to get it going or wouldn't find something else wrong with it, or (b) it would last this time. Visions of a night in a motel and the risk of frozen pipes in the 20-degree night chill ran around my brain all day.

When I called home between meetings in the afternoon, I was so relieved to find out that the repair had been complete and the house was warm again that I ran around hugging everybody I could find. Dad told me that the temperature was 72 degrees; "Turn it down!" I commanded happily. My usual Friday afternoon weekend-welcoming ritual, the Soapbox student presentation (a particularly good one, as it happened) was especially joyful knowing that the crisis was over.

But as with most crises, the relief revealed low-grade worry and regret as it ebbed. The amount of money we've wasted repairing this stupid machine that's just going to be replaced soon. The possibility that it will conk out again before winter is over, leading to the next decision about fixing it in order to get through the night, or figuring out a way to get a new one without freezing in the meantime. Annoyingly, the repair people who had promised us a break on a new furnace because of all the money we spent back in December couldn't find any record of that bill this time, making me worry that we'll end up paying more for the new unit eventually on top of everything we've already shelled out.

A friend on Ravelry chose this exact moment to send me a message responding to my post about last week's more personal crisis. Happily, there could have been no better time for me to hear what she had to say. In times like these, for my own peace of mind I need to redefine the situation as something that happened to me -- a trial, a hardship -- rather than something I screwed up. Never mind where the blame actually lies, or if there's any to be apportioned at all; I tend to descend into recriminations, second-guessing, and rehashing what I should have done differently and how badly I responded. I need to be grateful for what didn't happen (another night without heat) and stoic about what did (for which knitting determinedly on through provides an excellent backdrop).

Cross your fingers that we stay warm until spring. Or if not, that we'll figure out that adventure when it meets us.


Anonymous said...

I'm keeping my fingers crossed! I hope you guys stay warm over there. That explains why you were in a hugging mood this afternoon! =]

I'm really going to try this blogging thing again, Donna. For real this time. I think I'll have plenty to talk about these days.

the secret knitter said...

What awful timing. I know how repairs (or stopgap repairs) can gnaw, but hopefully your furnace will behave for a couple more months. Sorry to hear that it's acting up again.

Maureen said...

Wow, I'm glad that worked out. I hope it makes it through the winter, and a new furnace is imminent.

Home repair stuff keeps me awake at night.

Danny said...

Along similar lines, our last heating bill was $185 (excessively high, as we live in a small apartment). When the heating repair guy checked it out, he discovered that our air-conditioning was running concurrently with our heat. My dilemma ran along the lines of: Do I demand a discount off this month's rent (as both Shannon and I had been complaining about our not-hot heat for two months now and had been heretofore ignored and placated), or do I curl up on the couch and read in our newly warmed abode?

Having grown weary of conflict, I chose the latter.