Outwitted by a thermostat

Outwitted by a thermostat

With all the shoveling, back pain and creative driving we’ve endured in recent days, I thought I’d offer some tried-and-true homeowner advice to help you get through the rest of the winter.

Today’s installment is a step-by-step guide for what (not) to do when your furnace stops working on the coldest day of the year. Just in case, you know, that were to ever happen.

1 If your daughter comes in your room in the middle of the night saying, “I just heard a bang,” do not assume it was the trash can blowing over.

2 If you wake up at 3:30 a.m. and think, “Boy it’s cold in here,” do not simply roll over and go back to sleep.

Blog Photo3 If you wake up shivering again at 5 a.m., consider that it might be something to check out. Head to the basement to look at the furnace.

4 Realize that you don’t have any idea what to look for, other than the furnace doesn’t seem to be making those usual comforting noises.

5 Head upstairs to check the thermostat.

6 Do not panic when you see that the thermostat says “52.” If the digital readout also says “lo batt,” that might be a clue.

7 Pull cover off the thermostat. If this does not work the first two times, try again. (Swearing does not help this process.)

8 Try to remember where you put the AA batteries.

9 Make mental note to remind husband to leave batteries in the drawer rather than his briefcase.

10 Carefully study how the thermostat batteries are installed before removing them. Replace with fresh ones. Congratulate yourself prematurely.

11 When nothing happens, belatedly look at the instructions inside the cover to learn the proper sequence for replacing batteries.

12 Turn “Off-auto-on” switch back and forth a few times to see if that works. Next, hit reset.

13 When that fails, remove batteries and start over.

14 If it still won’t work, briefly consider calling your brother-in-law who fixes everything. Realize if you call him now he’d assume someone has died.

15 Decide to call your furnace company instead.

16 When the woman at the answering service says you have to call the emergency number (what is her role, exactly?), which is listed on your furnace, head back to the basement.

17 Go back upstairs to get your reading glasses.

18 Wake up the poor service technician who is on call.

19 Discover that it will cost twice as much for him to come now (6 a.m.) than it will at 8 a.m.

20 Mentally review complaints you will hear when your husband and two children awake. Decide it’s worth it to pay the extra $75.

21 Change your mind when technician says he can’t be there for a half-hour anyway.

22 DON’T LET HIM HANG UP. Ask if you can troubleshoot with him on the phone.

23 Carefully go through checklist with technician, trying various switches on the thermostat.

24 Scoff when he asks whether the batteries were inserted correctly.

25 Discover that one was inserted backward. Laugh good-naturedly. Do not be insulted when he declines to join in.

26 Relax (a little) when furnace kicks on. Do not be alarmed when cold air comes out at first.

27 Apologize profusely for waking up your new furnace friend. Promise to call him back if anything goes wrong.

28 Wait four hours for house to get above 60 degrees. In the meantime, search in vain for space heater brother-in-law gave you two years ago.

29 Realize you never figured out what that bang (see Step 1) was.

30 Pray for spring.


Julie Wurth blogs about kids and families and covers the University of Illinois for The News-Gazette. Leave a comment below, or contact her at 217-351-5226, jwurth@news-gazette.com or Twitter.com/jawurth.

Photo credit: Thinkstock.com

Sections (1):Living
Topics (2):Housing, People


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