Years ago, my dad taught me about TANSTAAFL. Never heard it before? It stands for There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.
“Free” always comes with a price.
Most of the time, that’s not a bad thing. We got a crap load of free hive bodies and frames the day after Thanksgiving. It will take probably 40 hours of scraping, cleaning, melting the wax, straining the wax, re-melting it, straining again, and eventually painting everything in white to get the hives ready to use. We’re up to it, the ‘price’ was right.
Two years ago, I read about how if you get an energy audit and some weatherization, then the utility companies will give you a credit on your utility bills. I was so damned excited at the thought.
One small problem, it would be about $500 for the energy audit, plus possible thousands for the weatherization. After all that, I sure as hell hope they would give us a credit!
My husband was unemployed, unemployment had almost ran out, and we were facing bankruptcy as I struggled to continue to pay the mortgage. It was tough, real tough. Then I read about how families who were below a certain income level (read, dirt poor) could qualify for free weatherization. I jumped on it. A few months later and we were approved, my heart sank with the words that came next, “They are a little backed up right now, it will be at least a year.”
I don’t know if it is a good thing or a bad thing that we continued to qualify each quarter for the services. That meant we were dirt poor, along with the bankruptcy that went through just over 15 months ago, and after re-qualifying over and over, past the ‘year’ I was frustrated as hell. It isn’t easy to swallow your pride and submit to such intrusive questions and provide details of just how poor you really are over and over, but I did it.
And a month ago, all of that paid off. Or did it?
It turns out we had a furnace that was leaking dangerous, toxic levels of CO2 into our home. It was probably a good reason for the massive number of headaches I experienced each winter, especially when the temps dropped precipitously. They replaced our furnace, blew in more insulation in our attic, and even replaced an old window in our master bathroom that would have a solid layer of ice on the inside every winter, all winter.
And for a month, things have been much better. The master bathroom isn’t as chilly as it once was and the furnace has worked like a dream. Until this past Saturday…
At 5:30 a.m. on Saturday, I was up and awake, typing away at my computer when I smelled this burning smell. It was followed by a sound reminiscent of the TARDIS in Doctor Who. With the door to my office closed, I wasn’t sure if it was Dave snoring (sorry, honey) or what. But the burning smell drove me to open the door and when I did, I could then feel the floor shaking from the regular whumping sound of a furnace in distress.
I shook Dave awake and we figured out how to shut the thing down. Afterwards, I called a phone number on the venting. But that turned out to be the installers of the original furnace who asked me what the brand was that had been installed. When I told them, the man said, “Ma’am, I’ve very sorry, but I’m sure it wasn’t us that installed your furnace. We would never install that brand.”
And with that, all I could think was, “Oh, shit. Here is the price of free.”
So it’s now Monday morning. We have one space heater and it’s doing a pretty darn good job. Our temps on Saturday morning were in the mid-60’s when we turned off the furnace and currently it is 61 degrees inside our house. Which isn’t bad, not at all. This morning will be filled with panicked calls to the community action agency who paid for this gem of a furnace, and it is covered under warranty for two years. I imagine we will be replacing the damned thing in about that time, so I’d best start saving up.
Update: After close to a billion frenzied calls and finally hearing back (they had been given the wrong number and were calling someone with a 216 area code and getting no answer) they finally came by at about 3pm. He checked the amp draw, and a host of other things, and concluded that the furnace filter had gotten too close to the motor, impeding its movement, thus the burning smell and sound of a TARDIS in distress. They installed a filter rail, and that will make it easier to change the filter, keep it in its place, and it started up again like a dream.
Here I am, in Crown Center waiting while the princess takes an acting class and realizing, to my chagrin, that the house will be boiling at 75 degrees by the time I return. We kept turning up the temperature so that the heater would kick in and they could check that there was heat and no more problems. I left in such a hurry that I forgot to turn it back down!