And so we start our first morning in the era I shall call Furnace II here in our city neighborhood house in Syracuse, N.Y.
Thank you for a hard-working life, No.1. You fell a half-year short of a full decade of warming me and my dear wife Karen. I can sincerely say that I will never forget your sounds, your sequence of clicks and whirs and whooshes that ingrained themselves into my inner brain.
Of course, they tell me, after reading your numbers and squinting at books, that you had been performing for three to eight years before that. One guy said three to five. Another said five to eight. In any case, you and your 80 percent efficiency, your two-stage motor, your 60,000 BTUs, your need to send white steam up a metal chimney and out of the top of our house, are all gone now.
Yesterday morning, they cut your ties, wrestled you out of our laundry room, and threw you into a van.
The crew from Potter Heating set forth in hooking up your replacement.
Ellie B, aka Dogamous Pyle, lay fairly patiently in her crate. I sat typing away in my recliner. We were warm because the crew chief and man who’d given us the estimate for this whole operation had kindly brought along a portable electric heater.
We jumped up once, when a loud, percussive boom sent two guys quickly out into the hallway, scratching their heads to figure out what happened. After I caught my breath and made sure they had not been followed by flames out into the hallway, I listened.
I heard that the gas valves were not open. I heard that they had never, ever seen anything like this before.
I saw them both pull out their cellphones and walk outside onto my driveway, talking fast.
After a couple of minutes, I went out.
“Hey, guys, it’s not giving me a whole lot of confidence that you two are standing out there and Ellie B and I are left sitting inside,” I said. “Are we safe?”
They chuckled, slightly, and assured me it was a one-time sonic boom.
The technical expert arrived in a minute and they all poked around the new furnace again. Happy they were back inside with us, I listened.
The puh-pow, it turns out, was caused by a buildup of the primer used before connecting the PVC pipes venting the new furnace sideways and out the wall instead of the roof. The fumes and maybe even some primer had collected down a pipe and inside the furnace. When one of the guys struck his lighter — and just now I realize I never quite got why he struck his lighter, because they all smoked their cigarettes out on the driveway — it set that primer off.
Short story: No gas leaks.
Longer story: It blew apart the inducer, or actually the little part of the inducer where it’s screwed onto the body of the furnace. They located a new one at Upstate, the heating company, not the hospital, I’m guessing, and the technical expert guy went to retrieve it.
The remaining two guys went back to drilling and crafting the sheet metal and connecting the PVC vent system.
The new inducer got here quickly.
A City of Syracuse inspector arrived. He looked around our living room and told me he remembers installing the original furnace here 45-some years ago. “Couple of furnaces since, I’m sure,” he said. He poked around the installation site. All good.
They showed me how to program the new electronic thermostat. I picked a six-hour sleeping window in which the thermostat will allow the temperature to drop four degrees. Dollar signs danced in my head.
One guy ran quickly back to the shop and brought us a handsome and sturdy new grate to cover the air intake hole in the hallway wall. It looks so much nicer than the original.
Some 6 1/2 hours after they started, our new furnace was ready for duty. It too is a York, albeit a shorter cousin.
It is 95 percent efficient, with its one-stage motor and 40,000 BTUs able to heat our one-story house more evenly, and its sideways vent allowing the chimney to be capped inside the laundry room.
The era of Furnace II will be less costly, all of the repair guys assured me. The crew chief told me it will use 80 percent less electricity.
This first morning, I already know that it is quieter. And we are warmer.