The Joys of Home Ownership

For the most part, I love “owning” my home (though I still have philosophical differences with the notion of “owning” land and homes). It gives me freedom to do whatever I want with the place, and of course the economic benefits are well-known.

But sometimes it’s just a pain in the ass. Like, say, the past 18 hours. We have about 18″ of snow on the ground, and last night it got down to below zero, BEFORE the wind chill.

So last night I went to make dinner…. no gas. Hmm, I thought. If there’s no gas in the stove, then that means….. no furnace.

Indeed, the furnace wasn’t working. It was still reasonably warm at this point. So the first thing I did was go out to see if the propane tanks were full. After a fair amount of time digging a path to them (18″ of snow and all) I discovered that, indeed, they were all about half full. I called our gas guy and he had some advice for me. I tried what he suggested (cleared off the roof around the furnace chimney, and restarted the gas) and, no luck.

So we all spent the night in our room with the space heater on (Mo, LM, myself, our dog, and my daughter’s new gerbils). It was actually warm in there, but of course coming out of the room this morning was no fun.

After another phone call I decided to investigate the regulator at the back of the house. It’s just off the back porch; sadly we have no way to get down from the back porch, it’s basically a small balcony overlooking the hill and our woods. I could, however, see that the regulator was frozen solid.

I looked up, on the edge of the roof, and sure enough there were a bunch of icicles hanging down above where the regulator is. The exhast vent for the stove is right there; the warm air from the stove melts the snow on the roof, and then the water drips down and lands on the regulator. This is why it was encased in ice. Bad engineering.

So I went around to the back of the house and dug another path through the snow along the edge of the house to the regulator. After some gentle TLC with a hammer and chisel, the regulator was cleared out. I made double-sure the vent was clear; the vent being clogged with ice was the cause of the problem. When this happens the gas flow is designed to shut down.

After that I came back inside, turned on a burner on the stove, and sure enough there was the telltale hissing sound and the smell of propane. Yay!

So I re-lit the pilot lights and we were back in business. In fact the heater just kicked off again a few minutes ago, which means the house is back up to 68 degrees F.

I can’t move the regulator easily, so soon I’ll build a small shelter to cover the regulator, so any dripping water will be deflected away from it.

Don’t wanna have to do this again. Though at least we’re warming up now, we’re up to 6.8 degrees F. :-)

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