Friday, October 30, 2020

So, Of Course

      With the furnace iffy, the official outside temperature hit 33°F last night.  That's out at the airport; in town, we can count on a couple of free bonus degrees, but still -- it's chilly.  The house was at 63 when I woke up.*

      I woke up with cats.  They were not much inclined to leave the bed, either, not until breakfast time.  Holden has caught on quickly to what Huck has known for years: once the TV turns on, chow is on the way.

     Cats fed, people-chow was next.  There was rice left over from last night's Indian take-out, so I made fried rice for breakfast and lingered over the wok, reminded that kitchen duty in Winter is still one of the better things to be doing.

      Early voting is probably not going to work out for me -- wait times at the site I pass on my way to work have varied from 354 minutes (!) down to a low, low 120.  Two hours seems like a long time to spend waiting in line with a random group of strangers, masked or not.  I'll keep an eye on it today -- there's a handy website for Marion County, indyvotetimes-dot-org -- but I'm not expecting today's sunny weather to make the lines any shorter than yesterday's cold drizzle had.
* This sounds worse than it is.  We keep the house at 66° in Winter, up a notch from 65 in deference to advancing age.  I did most of my growing up in a house with electric ceiling heat, possibly one of the least-useful heating systems: resistance wire embedded in the ceiling plaster, which heats up and more-or-less heats the room below.  A thick layer of insulation keeps from losing too much heat to the attic (we never worried much over snow and ice build up on the roof), but the heat tends to stay near the ceiling; bed and table level's chilly and the floors, well, you didn't go barefoot and socks alone didn't help much.  The family room, a converted attached garage, had a slab floor and a baseboard heater, and was usually preferable in wintertime: at least the warm air started out at your level!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, if it's any consolation, we kinda-sorta went through the same thing (a furnace replacement) in our old 1901 house.

Our gas stove had finally, completed gone ca-fluey. With only 2 of the 4 burners working, when the oven thermostat quit it was time for a new stove. After a quick visit to our neighborhood appliance dumping-ground retailer, we had a new stove arrive at the house. I shut off the valve for the gas in the basement, but when the guys pulled the old stove out they said they were unable to install the new one, since the line up through the floor was a no-longer-approved older one. Okey-doke; we called the gas company to have a guy come out and install a new line from the isolation valve to the kitchen.

He came out, did that work, and then told us, with much regret, that he was going to have to "red-tag" the furnace. Bear in mind that this furnace was originally a coal-fired, gravity hot-water octopus boiler with a huge gas burner ring shoved into the old ash scuttle sometime back in the '30's. You could have boiled a pot of coffee on the pilot light, and when the main burner ignited it was like a Saturn-V at lift-off. I figured we were sending 75 cents out of every dollar straight up the chimney. It was also covered with some kind of crumbling insulation, as were all of the pipes in the basement.

He stuck his finger into the exhaust plenum at the top of the furnace, and the bottom part of it simply disintegrated in a pile of crumbling red rust. Yup, time to go.

First step was to get somebody to do the asbestos abatement. This involved three guys in Tyvek suits and respirators, a HEPA vacuum filter system, and a whole bunch of garbage bags. They stripped the furnace, and then stripped the pipes. They tried to break the old furnace into the original two parts but it was too solidly rusted together. They managed to get the whole bloody thing up the back stairs (which were fortunately very solidly built); it must have weighed 500 pounds. We were left with a hole in the basement floor (just sand underneath) and trimmed-off cast-iron pipes.

The guys with the new furnace came in and dropped a concrete slab on the hole and then put the new furnace right there. This new one was the size of a 2-drawer file cabinet where the old one had beed about 6 times that big. They had dielectric unions hooked onto the old pipes connecting to the copper lines from the new furnace, gas lines hooked up, and a brand new expansion tank in the basement ceiling almost before you could blink. I think they'd done it a few times before, maybe.

I later mixed up some concrete and did a nicer job of fairing the little slab into the basement floor, but everything actually turned out pretty well. That winter the price of natural gas doubled, but we were using less than half the amount we had been with the old furnace so our gas bill was actually lower. The new one also had a circulating pump, rather than depending on gravity and water density to move the water around, so the house warmed up a lot faster when the heat came on, too.

It was probably the world's most expensive stove replacement, but we were glad he had noticed the problem in the summertime, rather than having that exhaust into the house at the start of winter.

We also kept the house cool, turning the temperature down to 63°F at night, but warming up to 68°F during the day.

I hope yours goes as well as our turned out.