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12 February 2008

Home Furnace Repair

Nicole and I both sensed the house was cold as we went to bed Saturday night. I went to the thermostat to increase the heat and noticed that it was set at about 72, but that the current temperature was around 65.

"This isn't happening" was my main thought.

A few minutes downstairs in front of the furnace confirmed my worst fears--it was malfunctioning. I noticed that the flame would come on, then quickly shut off. This cycle repeated itself over and over.

I figured we could survive the night. We covered up the kids with extra blankets and went to sleep. Our plan was to spend as much time on Sunday AWAY from the house.

If there thermometer on our thermostat were capable of displaying a temperature of less than 60 degrees, it would have Sunday morning. A space heater set in the living room made things more bearable.

Nicole was relating the furnace story to one of her friends at church who explained that it sounded like something they had dealt with before and was easily fixed. He showed up after church to take a look.

He pointed out a metallic rod situated where the gas flame should be and explained that buildup on it is probably what made the furnace shut off. I used steel wool to clean the rod and gave things a test: the heater now worked. Repair bill averted!

I later found out that this piece is a heat sensor and is used to make sure there is a flame when the gas is on. It is a safety feature--no use in filling your home full of potentially fatal natural gas, eh? Over the years it had accumulated enough buildup that it stopped functioning properly.

This is a nice piece of knowledge to be armed with. We were facing the likely prospect of having to hire a furnace repair service for what would end up being a thirty second repair job.