Last weekend — the coldest of the winter thus far — we had no heat. I came home around lunchtime on Thursday and noticed it was unusually cold in the house. Generally we keep the heat set around 64 degrees so you know it had to be chilly. It was 55 — yikes.
The fall after we moved into our house in 1997, we had a heat issue. A serviceman told us then we needed a new furnace. It was over 10 years old and on the brink of death, he said. We thanked him and promptly called someone else and the same furnace has served us well for almost 20 years. We’ve only had a minor breakdown here or there.
So Thursday afternoon I called for help and it arrived an hour or so later. The repairman quickly found the problem — a broken part. Yea! But thanks to the age of the furnace, he had to factory order the part. It wouldn’t be in until Monday and they couldn’t replace it until Tuesday. Boo!
I looked at the poor guy like he had two heads. How could a repairman leave a house without fixing the heat? Especially with temperatures expected to dip into the single digits and words like “dangerous wind chill” and “bitter temps” being thrown about. But he did. He left. And we survived. Here are a few takeaways of life in a frigid home.
- If you announce on Facebook that you have no heat, you will end up with more space heaters than you have outlets to plug them into.
- Even distant friends will offer to let you stay with them, or stay in their house while they are gone. People’s generosity is amazing.
- The thought of packing up a whole family and moving into someone else’s house is overwhelming. So we didn’t.
- It takes nine space heaters to keep pipes and a family of six from freezing.
- The second floor bathroom in our house is on the same circuit as the basement. We learned that and many other wiring oddities after blowing at least a dozen fuses over the past few days.
- Heavy duty extension cords are just as important as space heaters if your furnace breaks down.
- Space heaters don’t warm up a room very well — especially if it’s windy and 8 degrees outside.
- Bathrooms, however, get very toasty when a space heater is going full tilt.
- It’s hard to type when your fingers are freezing.
- It’s hard to read when you can’t keep your hands outside of the covers.
- It’s hard to sleep when your nose is freezing.
- Every time someone opens a door to a warm room, all the heat is immediately sucked out.
- It’s hard to keep a room warm when someone is always coming or going — including the cat.
- Bed is the best place to be when you have no heat, or the bathroom. But the trip from bed to the bathroom is painful.
- A fireplace does not heat a room if someone insists on sitting right in front of it.
- When the temperature goes up to nearly 50 and it’s still 45 in the house — it’s tempting to open the windows.
- When the repairman finally calls to say he’s coming with the part — you may just greet him at the door with a big hug.
- After five days with no heat — you might consider replacing your circa 1980s model furnace.
FranklyStein is a blog by Chesapeake Family Magazine editor Betsy Stein who lives in Catonsville with her husband, Chris, and four children, Maggie, 17, Lilly, 15, Adam, 15, and Jonah, 11.