Posted by: David Stewart | June 14, 2012

Does it feel warm in here to you?

Morning after Thanksgiving, 2011 – The Stewart family wakes up in a house with no heat. The furnace never came on as it was programmed to, and we can’t get it to start up.

What really happened is that I get up early, as usual, and have breakfast. Deb gets up and says, “Why is it so cold in here?” It simply had not occurred to me that there was anything too different. “But now that you mention it…” Time to call our repair guy.

Repair guy takes a look at it and tells us the old girl is on her last legs. (Are furnaces male or female? Or gender neutral?) This is original equipment from when we built the house in 1988. Although he can patch it up to keep going, we really need to replace it rather than keep pumping money in the old one.

“Great!” I think. We have talked for the past 15 years at least about getting air conditioning, but we decided to wait until the furnace quits.

June, 2012 – After months of researching many different options, getting multiple quotes and agonizing on our choices, we finally decide to pull the trigger on a Lennox multi-stage heater with an AC. Schedule will likely be late in June.

Monday, June 4, 2012, 7:33AM – the phone rings and its our furnace guy. “We have had a cancelation, can we come out right now and start work on your installation?” Um… yeah, particularly funny since this particular morning, Deb and I are both still in bed.

Since this a two day process, we will be without heat that evening.

Given that we live near Portland, Oregon, it’s not too surprising that the low temperature at night is still in the low 50s. I suggested to Deb, “Hey, what do you think, let’s spend the night in a hotel.” Maybe a bit silly, but I thought it would add some fun to the process and we wouldn’t have to be like the pioneers and get up in the morning without heat.

That night we checked into a neighborhood hotel, walked over to a conveyer-belt sushi shop for dinner and were settling down for a night of TV watching, when the lights went out.

Yes indeed, there was a wild storm raging outside with gales of wind and buckets of rain, and the entire neighborhood was dark, including the hotel.

Since we only lived about 5 minutes away, I hopped in the car to see if we still had power at home and to pick up some flashlights. Sure enough, we have lights and home but no heat; in the hotel we have heat, but no lights. We opted to stay in the hotel, but as I said it was probably silly.

ImageTuesday – the HVAC is installed and we have heat! The AC requires an additional electrical circuit to be installed so it requires a separate visit from the electrician.

Thursday – the electricians do their work, adding the necessary circuitry and running an additional outside utility outlet to meet code. The HVAC guys come back, and we now have both heat and air conditioning!

I have some fun running the temperature up to 70, then down to 65. It all seems to heat and cool just fine!

The whole experience went off pretty much as advertized. There are still a couple of little surprises.

Since the furnace is one of those new high-efficiency types, it doesn’t use the same exhaust venting as our gas-powered water heater and uses a different flu. Basically all they need to do is run PVC (white plastic) pipe directly outside the house for both exhaust and air intake.


PVC pipe

To my eyes, this seems a little bit hokey looking. I wonder how to prevent birds, insects and “critters” from flying in and nesting there. And shoot, it looks like a white plastic pipe is poking out of the house.

I don’t know the answer here. I would like to at least put a screen there. But the furnace guys say that there is enough water vapor coming out that in a cold winter, it could freeze on the “off” cycle and this would not be a good thing.

My thanks go out to AAA Heating and Mike’s Electric for their solid work on the install. Thanks!


What the side of the house now looks like with the complete installation in place


Completed Air Conditioner heat exchanger and electrical connection


  1. […] A couple of weeks ago, we replaced the original heater that was installed when we built our house in 1988. I chronicled that tale in a recent post on this other blog. […]

  2. […] A couple of weeks ago, we replaced the original heater that was installed when we built our house in 1988. I chronicled that tale in a recent post on this other blog. […]

  3. That is a funny story with a good end !

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