Sunday, February 7, 2010

Furnace Troubles

Friday afternoon started like any other. Deirdre got home first and started to tend to Samson's needs. She then noticed that it was a little chilly in the house. I got home as she was noticing the chill and she saw that thermostat was not working correctly as the batteries that powered it were exhausted. We replaced the batteries and the thermostat appeared to be working correctly again. However, there was no warm air coming out of the registers. I went downstairs to check on the furnace (it is powered by natural gas) and I heard the vent fan turning on, but it was apparent that the burners were not operating. I called Kevin (a good friend who is a plumber/HVAC technician) and he talked me through the process of resetting the furnace. Despite his directions, the furnace still did not work. Kevin said that he would come by in a few minutes and take a look at the furnace.

Kevin arrived a few minutes later and after checking a couple of things, he discovered the cause of the problem: the ignitor. The ignitor is critical to the operation of the furnace as it ignites the natural gas that is sent through the furnace. There was a small white spot on the bottom of the ignitor, so the internal safety interlocks in the furnace worked as designed. What that meant is that we would not have forced air heat until Saturday at the earliest. Kevin said that he would get an ignitor in the morning and install it.

We have two electric space heaters, which we quickly brought on line. We put one of the heaters in our bedroom, and the other was put in our living room. We also closed off all the doors that we could to focus the heat in the bedroom and living room. We also turned on our gas fireplace in the living room, which helped keep the temperature in the living room at 68F.
We went to bed around 11PM and we stayed quite warm in the bedroom as the space was more than up to the task to heat the room. When we got up a little before 7AM, the rest of house was chilly. The living room was 64F. We turned on the fireplace again, and that helped make the living room a little warmer. The back room in our house was a different story. During the night, the temperature in the back room of our house fell to 44F. It was warmer outside than it was inside our back room as the image above shows.

Kevin arrived a few minutes after this image was taken and in about 15 minutes he installed a new ignitor and the furnace was operating again.

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