Sunday, November 16, 2014


Last June I had a new furnace installed in my house.

Last night the new furnace stopped working.

Snow was falling, and the outside temperature was heading toward a low of 1 degrees.

I was not pleased.

The first thing I suspected was that we had forgotten to change the furnace filter. We (read: I) have forgotten to do this before. One summer, when I had been living in my little house for two or three years, my AC froze up completely on a hot day. I looked out at my deck and saw that the pipe/cable/line leading to the big round AC thing was completely coated with ice. I called a very expensive repairman. He kindly informed me that there was such a thing as a filter on the furnace/AC and that it was supposed to be changed once a month. Who knew?

So now I did know, and I started changing it, not once a month, but sometimes, or rather, making my son Christopher change it for me. Unless I forget. Then we don't change it. And bad things happen.

I sent a delegation of furnace-filter shoppers to Home Depot. They returned with the right-sized filter for the furnace and replaced the old horribly filthy one. Hooray!

Except: the furnace still wasn't working. The inside temperature of my house had reached 59 degrees, then 58, then 57.

I began making phone calls, starting with the 24/7 emergency service number of the guy who installed and warrantied the furnace. I got a recording saying that he was unable to take my call at this time but would get to me. As of this writing, he has never yet gotten back to me.

I called every emergency 24/7 furnace repair number I could find in the Boulder area. No luck: apparently 24/7 doesn't include 9 pm on a frigid Saturday night. Finally, I called Precision (the same folks who first told me about the existence of furnace filters). Friends had told me, on that occasion, that Precision is too pricey. But guess what? An actual human being answers their phone even on at 9 pm on a frigid Saturday night. She suggested some things we might try before we went to the expense of a service call. We couldn't figure out how to make them work. And so at 11:15 last night, a lovely young Precision repair guy showed up to fix our furnace.

The problem WAS the furnace filter. With the clogged filter, the furnace was running so hard and long on these last Arctic days that it overheated and shut itself down. So it was all my fault, as is so often the case with my life woes.

The heat came back on: blissful, blessed heat. How good to feel warm air blowing at last!

Friends: change your furnace filters, if not once a month, at least once a season. It will save you frantic late night phone calls and a pricey service visit (that was worth every single penny). Be happy that you have heat. Heat is such a good thing to have on a bitter cold night. All the other problems in your life recede for a while if you don't have it and seem inconsequential (for a few hours, at least) even after you get it back.

Hooray for heat!


  1. Thank you Claudia for this warning! We are doing a kitchen renovation, and as it turned out, the filter was in need of a change -- probably because of all of the dust and debris in the house. I think your timely post saved us from a real disaster.

  2. That’s right. Just like any other device, the key to make it last is to maintain it regularly. This will not only ensure that you can maximize its usage, but also avoid experiencing sudden inconveniences. It was just disappointing that you had to experience all that. But on the bright side, it was solved soon after, and you learned a lot from the experience.

    Shelley Coday @ C & C