My friend Caili here at work made a comment the other day about how lucky Dan and I have been so far with the house. We've gotten some pretty lucky deals that have saved us quite a bit of money, allowing us to really do everything we wanted right off the bat. We've also gotten lucky that so far, nothing too major has hit us as an unplanned added expense. Last week, however, we had a good scare that ALMOST cost us a few grand...
Warning in advance - this is a somewhat lengthy story...
For the last few weeks, when we crank the heat up (to, like, 72, which I often do when I first get home and am freezing), the basement started to have a smell like exhaust, which eventually creeped into the rest of the house. Not good. Dan gave everything a good cleaning and re-taped all of the places where the duct work joins, and the smell went away. But, we should have known that would be too easy, right??... and the smell quickly returned a few days later. Seeing as we have 5 - yes, 5 - carbon monoxide detectors in our teeny house, 2 in the basement alone, we figured we were safe, but finally called Tradewinds, a sister company of Nicor, to come in for an inspection and "new homeowners" cleaning special. I scheduled an appointment for last Thursday from 8-noon and Dan said he would stay home in the morning for it. Around 11, he got a call saying they wouldn't be there until 1:30. I, of course, picked up the phone and called them back to find out what the delay was, but only got an apology for their tardiness. When 1:30 rolled around and still nobody showed, Dan called again only to find out they were still going to be another hour. I, of course, picked up the phone and called again, but still only got an apology even when I talked to a manager. Guess what time someone finally showed up? Not 1:30, not 2:30, oh no - not until 4pm!! Ridiculous. Obviously, Dan and I were both a little irritated - and rightfully so - Dan missed an entire day of work sitting around waiting!
Either way, the technician finally showed up, took one look at the furnace, and said: "I can smell carbon monoxide. It is already giving me a headache. Your furnace is so plugged up with soot I cannot even tell if things are broken. Your furnace is condemned and you need a new one." He proceeded to turn off our furnace and charge Dan $74. Really?
Needless to say, I called the company back right away and spent the next 45 minutes talking with the service manager who assured me we need a new furnace and could install one right away that night for me if we wanted to hurry and give him a credit card number over the phone. Considering it would have cost us a little over $2,000, that was not obviously not a decision I wanted to rush to make, so we decided to stay at my grandma's for the night and think it through. In the meantime, Dan called our neighbor Keith, who introduced himself to us awhile back and mentioned that he works in heating for Sears and would be happy to help us out if needed.
Quick note here - nice neighbors are another stroke of pure luck with the house so far. What a relief.
Keith came by and met my dad and I at the house, which had quickly dropped to 48 degrees with the heat off! Just like the tech from Tradewinds, Keith took one look at the furnace... then said "These combusters here are closed. They're supposed to be open." He popped these little pipe looking things open with a screwdriver and wouldn't you know it, THAT was all that REALLY needed to be done. The smell stopped, the flames went back to "normal", and everything was totally fine!
Considering the other guy told Dan "You 2 are lucky you didn't die in your sleep", I questioned Keith for a solid hour about whether or not we still need a new furnace, or at the very least a good professional cleaning. Turns out we don't need anything at all - the furnace isn't even what would be considered dirty. There is no soot buildup, there is no carbon monoxide problem (which is an odorless gas so the tech was full of garbage when he said he could smell it in the first place), and we do not need to spend thousands of dollars to replace our furnace.
Again - lucky.
We still stayed at my grandma's to let the house air out since Keith did say we may have had some carbon monoxide from when the combusters were closed up, but by Friday afternoon we were fine to go back and since I'm writing this here today... we clearly did not die in our sleep.
Seeing as Tradewinds did a really great job of scaring the living daylights out of me, and charged us $74 for NOTHING but incorrect information, I called back on Friday to try and get our money back and let them know that I will be filing a complaint to Nicor. What a pain! We'll be dropping a thank you note and a case of beer over to Keith this evening. I hope the small token of appreciation will let him know how thankful we are that he saved us a huge chunk of money that we definitely did not want to have to spend!
On a lighter note, we stopped back at the Bolingbrook Ikea last night and found 2 of the Expedit bookshelves I have literally wanted for YEARS in the as-is section! Since we had my car we had to take them apart... and then they still didn't really fit. But we managed and got them home and back together. After seeing them in the office I sort of think having both is a bit much, but we're going to take a look at it again tonight and figure it out. If we do decide it's too much, I'll put one up on craigslist and considering how popular the shelves are I'm fairly confident it will get picked up right away.
I don't have any pictures of current progress but will hopefully have some this week as we work in the dining room and put up our Christmas tree! Below is the Ikea stock picture of the shelves... I'll post a picture of them in the office once we have that all figured out!