Savannah and I have been noticing that over the past couple weeks that when we stoked the furnace, there has been an increased level of smoke that came billowing out at us. Last night, things rather came to a head. Smoke was leaking out of the joints at the elbow where the pipe connects to the chimney. Well, at Daddy's suggestion we put metal tape around the cracks and that seemed to help. Then Savannah went back down to the basement again--and it was leaking from other areas, including around the door. She turned the blowers off and the thermostat in the house and we let it go out.
Thankfully, we have back-up with the electric heat (did I forget to mention the low was someplace around -5* last nigh?)...it isn't nearly as efficient, but it sure helps!! Well, anyway, that worked until shortly after 6:00 this morning when it quit too.
Thus ensued the scramble to get some sort of heat up and running. When I went out to feed the chickens this morning, it was 0* outdoors and roughly 67* in the house. It had been determined that there had to be a blockage in the furnace chimney. I declared that, regardless of my fear of heights, I would go up on the roof and give the chimney sweeping a go. (Meanwhile we were on and off the phone and Skype with our parents.) Mama ended up giving that a very firm "No"...
I got to looking at the chimney and bonnet later (from the ground, that is) and decided that even had I been capable of getting the bonnet off (and Daddy told me it's hard for him), I am not sure that I would have been tall enough to force the brush down the chimney.
So anyway, we called a chimney sweep--who wouldn't be able to make it out here until Tuesday--and set an appointment with them. (It would later get cancelled; keep reading.)
Then, trying to trouble shoot even further, we went on an exploratory trek to the basement, Daddy in on-Skype consultation mode:
Then Daddy had another idea:
See, we could feel a little tiny bit of a draft at the pipe, so Daddy told us to get a candle and light it, then hold it up to the pipe. If it didn't get blown out due to the suction then we would know for sure that we had a blockage of some sort.
Well, it didn't even think about being blown out.
Daddy next picked up the phone and called Mr. M...one of our deacons and a man who works at all kinds of stuff like this for his living. Mr. M said he'd be there within the hour. Daddy told me to go ahead and get the ladder set up and to have the chimney brush handy for when Mr. M arrived.
I had just sat down to eat my lunch when I noticed that Abby was craning her neck in an alert posture as she looked out the window. So, I hopped up, jammed my feet into my cowboy boots while at the same time pulling my denim coat on. Last step as I stumbled out the door was to cram Daddy's "Russian" hat onto my head. (That was my headgear of choice today.)
After greeting Mr. M, I supplied him with the brushes and held the ladder for him as he mounted to the roof. He started to say something about the roof when he reached the point of transfer, but he didn't finish his sentence for whatever reason. But I know it had to do with the trickiness of the transfer because Daddy told me that was the hardest part. :P
I scrambled back into the house and bolted the rest of my lunch. Abby was freaking out because she could hear Mr. M on the roof and the brush going down the chimney.
After I finished my lunch, I suited up and headed back outside just about the same time Mr. M was coming down. Poor man was frozen! We invited him in to warm up and have a cup of coffee. I went back out and took the cleaning rod apart (he had been too cold to do it). I couldn't get enough friction to do it with my gloves on, so I had to take them off. I think that is why tonight the backs of my hands are red...and the whole surface is quite rough. Coming in contact with fabric is rather uncomfortable.
After drinking half his coffee, Mr. M went back up onto the roof to put the bonnet back on. And then he came back in and finished his coffee. The three of us tramped to the basement and he put the rest of the furnace back together and Savannah got the fire going. (I didn't mention earlier, but we had taped a feed sack to the open end of the elbow to catch the junk coming down the pipe.)
Mr. M informed us that we had had an one-hundred percent creosote blockage. That could have been way worse than a smoke filled house. It could have meant fire in the chimney...and worse. Praise God that we did not have that problem and that Mr. M so graciously came to our rescue!!
Later in the day, the guys showed up to fix our electric heat. I am not exactly sure what they did...or exactly what the problem was--other than some sort of heat limit override sensor thingy. (So that sounded really brilliant. Sorry. I got out of bed running today and I have barely slowed down and I'm kind of tired.)
In between Mr. M and these other guys though, I brought in three buggy loads of wood--all by myself again. I'm hoping that I don't get a meningitis attack tomorrow. If I don't, that will make twice in the last week that I've done some good physical work without an attack! However, I'm not jumping to conclusions yet. It's not tomorrow. :D
Someplace in here I also made a trip to the apartment--some sort of paper-work that I was the gopher/runner for.
Later, Savannah and I went into town; me driving. I have been "chauffeur" lately since her eyes are bothering her (Lyme shifting up again). When we got home, I fed the chickens...and stopped by Grandma and Grandpa's again. I got their kerosene heater going for them. They were both cold--and I can't say I was sweating even though I had five layers on; two shirts, a sweater, coveralls, and my heavy duty flannel-lined denim jacket. In other words, it must have been chilly in there. Usually in the wintertime their place is so down right hot you want a sleeveless shirt on out there. (That is slight hyperbole.)
Then I came in and hauled wood from the old oil room into the furnace room. I think it was about that time that I noticed my hip was bugging me a bit and that I had started limping again. Oh well. Grit your teeth and bear it. That's my motto when it comes to this Lyme-arthritis. There tends to be some grimaces that accompany that as well...but I really do try not to moan and groan and complain about it--though I have been driven to tears by the pain. (It's no where near that bad tonight, by the way. Just a nagging little irritation mostly.)
Some how or another, I also ended up the day with the tops of my knees chapped. I did go outside briefly three or four times without my coveralls on. I would hardly think that would be enough to chap my knees (through jeans), but I guess it was. Cold is strange. All in all, I think I prefer 99* and being soaked through and through with sweat. Heh...that brings it's own set of physical irritations, so guess I cannot claim that is "perfect" either! :D
Oh well. I am VERY grateful to have heat tonight.