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Last night was some catch-up cleaning.  Nothing spectacular, I’ve just been accumulating some clutter downstairs that I needed to deal with before we become path people again.  I also wanted to get down on my hands and knees in the kitchen/dining room and check for baby hazards.  On the whole, we’re in fairly decent shape.  The kitchen alcove needs work, but that’ll be a project for later this week.  During this process, I kept catching a whiff of something that didn’t belong, and it was fairly late before my nose finally identified it as heating oil.  So Bob went down to the basement to see if either we had gotten an oil delivery (still ¾ of a tank, so no) or if there was an issue with the boiler.  Apparently also no.  I kicked it on for him to check, although that took a bit.  I turned off the downstairs heat in the spring, and in the intervening time I’d forgotten how to manipulate the programmable thermostat.  That was annoying.  But I got it on, and everything was fine.  He thought that perhaps with it being chilly out and the boiler off most of the time that the chimney stack and flues may have chilled down enough that we were getting a small backdraft.  Everything seemed okay, so we headed off to bed.

Do you hear the ominous music building?  I didn’t.

This morning I noticed that I could smell that faint whiff of oil at the top of the stairs, and we decided that I would click the heat on for a little while just to get things all warmed up, cleared out, and running.  Also that way there would be actually hot water for Bob to grab a shower this morning.  I clicked the heat up to a temporary reset from the program, heard the boiler come on, and went about my business.

Here’s the first thing I learned this morning: the smoke detector in the basement stairwell works JUST FINE, and you can hear it everywhere in the house.  The boiler was spewing black smoke into the basement.   [info]nazrynn  I thought of your “death house” almost immediately.  I say “almost” because the first thing I thought was “holy crap, there’s a stream of black smoke spewing out the side of my boiler!”, followed by “get the damn Bilco door open!”  I hit the emergency shut off switch in the stairwell, opened the front and back doors upstairs for airflow, and then went back down to get the Bilco door open.  Bob set up a fan to blow the smoke up and out of the basement.

I love that Bilco door.  Can you imagine trying to get the smoke out of the basement without it?

Charlotte meanwhile is in her PJs watching this whole affair from her high chair.  She had Cheerios, so she was perfectly happy.  The only thing that would have made it better was if someone had unstrapped her so she could come see what the fun was all about.  I was just as glad to have her strapped in.  If the carbon monoxide detector had gone off I was grabbing her, chair and all, and heading outside.  It never did, so everything was all right.

Bob called Brooks Oil’s emergency number, described the situation, and they’re sending someone out this morning.  The operator said that it sounds like it just needs cleaning!  I had it cleaned last November, so I hadn’t intended to do that until next month, and have the flue swept at about the same time.  It seems like an extreme set of symptoms for “needs cleaning,” but one of the ladies at day care said that she had the same thing a few years ago.  This is yet another reason why I want a new boiler.  That’s a few years away though.  What I want is not going to be cheap.

After he got off the phone with Brooks, I grabbed the flashlight to go down and see if I could pinpoint where the smoke had been coming from.  My spirit of scientific documentation hadn’t extended to standing in the emerging cloud of smoke to check precisely where it was coming from.  As it was, when I blew my nose on the way in to work it looked like I’d been at Pennsic for a week.  ‘nuff said about that.

As I got to the bottom of the stairs and turned the corner, I saw Nishka, and my heart stopped.


We only opened the basement door to the cats about a month ago, if that.  So in the automated portions of the brain, the basement is still a cat-free zone.  Except it isn’t.  And the basement door was open.  And the Bilco door was open.  And there was Niska headed towards the great outdoors with Becket nowhere to be seen.

A frantic search for cats ensued, and both of them were located still within the house.  At that point we moved the litterbox back upstairs and closed the basement door.  I think it is a fairly safe bet that I won’t be making that mistake again anytime soon.  Although I’m thinking that some sort of a screen door for that opening might not be a bad thing.  It’s nice to air out the basement occasionally just on general principles.  I’ll have to give this some thought.

So as it stands now, the boiler is off at the switch meaning no heat (no big deal at the moment,) and no hot water (not optimal, but better than no water at all.)  The basement is airing out, and as soon as the outdoor temperature is up Bob will open all the windows and air out the house.  Brooks will have someone over to check things out sometime this morning, and Bob has moved some residual basement clutter and set up work lights so the technician can see what he’s doing when he gets there.

Hey – at least

*  Bob is home to meet the technician whenever he arrives.  That’s a silver lining.

*  It’s warm enough that shutting off the boiler for the duration is an inconvenience rather than a problem.

*  This all happened first thing in the morning rather than late at night.

*  The basement is in reasonable shape and the boiler is clear of clutter.

*  We have a service contract.

*  Well – now that’ll be done for the year!  Now I just need to schedule the chimney sweeping.

*  I’m WIDE AWAKE.  No caffeine required.  J

Later on I’ll post some first birthday pictures.  That’s cheerier.



( 32 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 22nd, 2009 02:24 pm (UTC)
Oh, crap!!!

And I know the smell of burning oil that isn't quite right. It smells absolutely horrible, and I'm sorry your heater decided to give you a first class seat on the crazy bus this morning. (By the way, I am the driver, welcome aboard... I will explain it to you later, but I think Khioniya and Alys are driving other buses in the fleet).

Glad that the CO monitor didn't go off though - but I'm sure those fumes are not healthy, and also... bad kitties. Hope they remain put while all this is sorted out by the oil company.

And yes, glad it's on a day like today, and not a month or more from now, but it still sucks all around to have something that important and that pricey to break down. :( Hopefully whatever went wrong can be fixed/adjusted at minimal cost.
Sep. 22nd, 2009 03:01 pm (UTC)
I'm confindent that the kitties will remain contained while the oil company is working. If he wants, the technician can come and go through the Bilco door while they remain safely upstairs. It just never occurred to me to close that door. Note to self - when the new door with the cat flap goes in, it should be a latchable cat flap for just these occasions.

No, I'm pretty sure those fumes aren't healthy. Nothing that tastes that bad can be healthy. The sheer volume of smoke was really unnerving. But the nice man will make it all better. I have faith.

I'm hoping it won't be pricey - there are two very important words involved: "service contract." That saved our butts when the transformer burned out a couple of winters ago.
Sep. 22nd, 2009 04:01 pm (UTC)
Note to self - when the new door with the cat flap goes in, it should be a latchable cat flap for just these occasions.

And I am now getting an amusing image of a siamese cat bonking it's head against the locked kitty door.... not running in full speed, but just the general "funniest home videos" 'I meant to do that' thing that cats tend to do. :)

Thank God for service contracts. We'll probably wind up getting ours in December, or whenever the tax refund check comes in. Whichever comes first. Good thing you guys are covered for these kinds of emergencies...
Sep. 22nd, 2009 05:39 pm (UTC)
They will be mightily offended. Closed doors are an offense in the eyes of the Cat.
(no subject) - nazrynn - Sep. 22nd, 2009 06:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kls_eloise - Sep. 22nd, 2009 06:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nazrynn - Sep. 22nd, 2009 07:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kls_eloise - Sep. 22nd, 2009 07:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 22nd, 2009 07:00 pm (UTC)
Funniest thing I've ever seen was a cat who always ran at full tilt through the cat door -- on the day after the 1989 earthquake, he bolted towards the door, skidded to a stop, patted it gingerly, and THEN exited.

I'm glad you 2 reminded me. ;)

And I'm *very* glad the kitties didn't get out!
Sep. 22nd, 2009 02:38 pm (UTC)
You can pretty much shut ME up with Cheerios, too.

And how is it that the need to purge NEVER ENDS? How can you systematically go through every section of your home/life, clean it out as much as you think you can, and then at the end realize that several sections need another overhaul? HOOOOWWWWW?
Sep. 22nd, 2009 02:55 pm (UTC)
I'll keep that in mind if the situation ever comes up. Regular, or Honey Nut? :-)

As for the other... you mean like the fact that I've purged THE SAME ROOM three times, and every time I throw out two bags of trash and take a car full of stuff to Good Will? And every time I'm thorough and methodical, and every time there's more bags of trash and more to donate? There's only one possible answer.

It's breeding when we're out of the room. I'm convinced of it.
Sep. 22nd, 2009 03:04 pm (UTC)
Honey Nut or Multigrain. :)

I was actually talking about my own situation and purging in general, since most people seem to be in the same situation as me on this topic. But yeah, that seems to be how it is. No matter how thorough you thought you were, after you turn your attention elsewhere for even a day or two you go back and find somehow there is a lot more totally dispensable junk lying around. Maybe it's that purging some hardens you up and then if you have another go you realize that you can let go of more of your stuff than you though you could the first time around. I don't know but it always happens!
Sep. 22nd, 2009 03:36 pm (UTC)
You might be right. Maybe it's that after you get rid of things that you agonized over and then have some time to realize that it wasn't that bad, you look at what's left with a completely different viewpoint. The stuff that I have trouble with are things that were gifts. I have guilt. Gotta get past that.

The baby stuff is difficult. I'm keeping a *few* things for her - anything that was handmade for her (a couple of sweaters, a hat, a pair of crocheted booties,)and the clothes she came home from the hospital in. But other than that, I'm getting rid of stuff as soon as she outgrows it. The hard part is arguing with people about it. "Oh, that's so cute - don't you want to keep it?" Uh, why? I'm never having another baby, and she's not going to want 30 year old stuff if she has one somewhere down the road. There may be a few cherished things, but most of it? Out the door. But I guess I'm weird, because everyone argues with me about it. Good grief - it's just stuff!
(no subject) - golden_meliades - Sep. 22nd, 2009 03:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nazrynn - Sep. 22nd, 2009 04:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kls_eloise - Sep. 22nd, 2009 05:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kls_eloise - Sep. 22nd, 2009 05:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - golden_meliades - Sep. 22nd, 2009 06:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - galingale - Sep. 22nd, 2009 07:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - galingale - Sep. 22nd, 2009 07:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - golden_meliades - Sep. 22nd, 2009 08:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - galingale - Sep. 23rd, 2009 02:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kls_eloise - Sep. 22nd, 2009 07:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - galingale - Sep. 22nd, 2009 07:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kls_eloise - Sep. 22nd, 2009 07:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - galingale - Sep. 23rd, 2009 02:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 22nd, 2009 03:41 pm (UTC)
Oh my! Adventures in homeowning. I'm glad nothing seriously bad happened but wow...it's always something eh? Hopefully it's nothing more than a cleaning (although yeah that sounds pretty drastic to be nothing more than a dirty boiler).

Most people here have natural gas. My mom used to have oil but she finally switched at the beginning of last year(her old furnace was HUGE and 35 years old) and she's paying half as much for heat now. Is natural gas an option there? You might consider it...
Sep. 22nd, 2009 05:30 pm (UTC)
Gas is not an option. The big, practical reason is that my town doesn't have it. And while I suppose I could have a large bomb, er, tank on the back of the house, let's just say that the State Attorney General has recently waded into the pricing schemes for the natural gas companies. Price "gouging" is a better term.

Also, natural gas scares the crap out of me. You never hear about houses with oil heat just exploding for no reason, yet it seems that every couple of years like clockwork some house with natural gas just goes BOOM! Then Channel 3 stands in front of the smoking rubble and talks about how lucky it was that no one was home.

Scared. Stiff.

Rational? Nope. My rules - I make 'em up. :-)
Sep. 22nd, 2009 07:41 pm (UTC)
Oh, so you've SEEN what happened to the church that used to be less than a mile from our house...

The year that happened, had we bought the house on Lynwood Cemetary Road (the one with the gorgeous deck, wetbar, and glassed-in sunroom that would have made an awesome studio), we would have been literally right down the road from it.

The Gudelskis mentioned at closing that their house shook from the kaboom....

Said church has since been rebuilt. It's just opposite the exit ramp for Route 16, on 2 West.
Sep. 22nd, 2009 08:00 pm (UTC)
Oh yes. Yes I did. Heck, people in the next county HEARD that church that used to be there.

AND the house in Farmington about a year later that just went "boom" one afternoon while the family was at work. Like Ivanova said: "Boom today, boom tomorrow. There's always a boom. BOOM."

One of the houses that we looked at had the Iroquois gas pipeline pass *underneath the driveway.* It wasn't on the list for other reasons (space didn't work for our purposes. Oh, and it was maybe 20 yards from I-91,) but if it had been that probably would have been a deal breaker.

Me? Paranoid? Why, yes.
Sep. 22nd, 2009 07:13 pm (UTC)
Speaking of scooting up ladders.... did you have any luck finding the name of that $800-all-day tree guy? I figure I'll have to pay extra for him to come as far as me, but it would be worth talking to him!
Sep. 22nd, 2009 07:16 pm (UTC)
I've got it in the computer at home. I'll try to remember to send it over.
( 32 comments — Leave a comment )