Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What Is Going On?!

Today has been the weirdest day. Things are malfunctioning left and right!

I'll preface this by saying it is extremely cold where I live right now. About 15 degrees Fahrenheit which is like -10 give or take a few degrees Celsius. There is about 4 feet of snow outside and ice covers all the trees. Very cold!

At around 11pm tonight I noticed our house was getting increasingly cold inside. So I kicked the heat up higher and went on about my business. About 30 minutes later I noticed it was even colder than before, despite having cranked the heat up! So I went down and investigated the furnace room, particularly of course our furnace.

It would light, shut off, light, shut off, light then shut off again and after that the fan would kick on (the part that distributes the heat throughout the vents in the home). This is supposed to happen when the flame is lit, but ours obviously was not.

I wondered if maybe the gas had been shut off for some reason or another, but when I checked the pilot on our water heater -- it was still lit and responding to command (lighting when I turned the water to hot and diminishing when I turned the water to cold or off). So, I knew we did in fact have gas. Then what could the problem be? The furnace itself?

I decided rather than risk blowing ourselves up from gas being leaked instead of lit, we'd just suffer through a cold night and turn the furnace completely off. So I shut the furnace down and went back upstairs. The house got colder and colder so we just kept putting on layers of clothing to compensate.

Rather be chilly than dead.

At 1am, out of the blue, most of the smoke detectors in the house started going off in unison. So recalling the awkward state of our furnace we ran downstairs in a panic expecting to see a fire or smoke or something... nothing. Not a damned thing in sight!

Now we're worried about the alarms going off, but totally confused as to why they're going off at the same time! What the heck?

I run and open the front and back door to let air in, thinking perhaps it's something in the air we just can't see because it's slowly accumulated. I know a lot of times camping or at parties where there is a camp fire or people smoking you don't even notice the build up of smoke in doors because it's accumulated over time, not all of the sudden.

Opening the doors causes the alarm downstairs to stop going off, but the alarm upstairs in the hall is still screaming like a fat kid that dropped his cake. Chris detaches all of the fire alarms and we stand there with both doors wide open, house 10 times colder than before, utterly and hopelessly confused.

The alarms are electric with battery back ups, so it couldn't have been low battery. The alarm in our bedroom never triggered so it couldn't be an electrical surge, either. There was no smoke, at all.  Which left us to wonder, could it be carbon monoxide?

This daunting concept was quickly dismissed though because our CO detectors never went off. Which either means it's not carbon monoxide or that our CO is crappy. Argh! Back at square 1.

I closed the front door and shortly thereafter the alarm upstairs in the hall started going off again. So Chris ran back up there and unhooked it, again. We waited a few more minutes and he hooked it back up. None of the alarms have gone off since... but we're still totally wondering what the heck happened!

I came upstairs to call my mom and ask her since she  has indefinitely more life experience than we do, and she suggested if we were concerned to go stay at her house for the evening, but if we do that we couldn't bring our pets (because she's already got a house full of pets herself). If I don't feel safe staying in my house, I'm not going to abandon my pets in that house! So I decided we'd stay here, and just see what happens. We don't sleep for a few more hours, anyway.

Just as a precaution I cracked a window downstairs so if there is something we can't see or smell, it's at least being filtered out a little and not just building up and up and up. In the morning we can call someone to come out and inspect our furnace. There's not much we can do right now except call 911 which I really don't want to do unless I know there is definitely without a doubt a serious problem.

Last thing I want on my conscious is that someone died in a house fire because the minimal amount fire trucks available at 3am were at my house investigating this strange situation when they called for help. Because I live in a town where there is, quite literally only 1 fire truck.

Things finally settled down and we returned to what we had previously been doing before all of this. At around 2am our internet goes out. What is going on around here?! Internet is obviously back now, but still. This night/morning has been nothing but strange!

I'll update once the guy comes later today to inspect our furnace.


A man came out at around 6pm Tuesday and took apart our furnace. Turns out the sensor which tells the furnace to turn on and off was broken, causing it to turn on and off and eventually stay off permanently. Luckily he had the part which needed to be replaced, but he didn't have it with him.

He left to pick up the part and came back about 10 minutes later only to realize he didn't bring the right tool. So he had to leave again and come back, again, this time with the correct tool.

When he got back he went about replacing the part, which was pleasantly quick, and then gave it a test run. It worked. Yay we have heat again!

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