Close to two weeks ago, I wanted to check out my furnace before turning the heat on for the first time of the season. So I went down to my basement to discover a small amount of moisture around one of the bottom corners of the furnace. Having had a small fuel oil leak in the past few months, I decided I’d call up the home warranty folks to send somebody over. A gentleman came by a week ago today. He noted that the moisture was water, and wasn’t a serious problem. Then he manually fired up the furnace to confirm it worked. It turned on, and he commented that it was burning fuel, but not particularly well. It worked though. Then he moved over to the side of the furnace.
“Whoa! You two – go over there!” he shouted to his assistant and me as he motioned towards the stairs.
It turns out that exhaust was coming out of the pressure relief valve into the basement, and not venting up the chimney as it was supposed to.
A duct issues from the top of the furnace composed of an elbow and single piece of straight ductwork that enters the base of the chimney. The contractor pulled off the elbow and showed me a large amount of debris. Indicating, appropriately, that he wasn’t a chimney expert, he said I should have a chimney inspection since it appeared that the liner had collapsed. He was crouched down taking notes and was about to leave when he caught something out of the corner of his eye.
“Hang on a sec…come here. You see that on top of the controller? That’s silt. And see here, too? Higher up. This furnace has been under water. You can see rust in places where it shouldn’t be, either, considering this furnace is only three years old. And see, this is a New Yorker furnace. They’re usually green. This is gray. It’s been painted over.” He pointed to a portion of the furnace behind the pressure gauge where the sneaky painter missed a spot.
Hooray. My chimney needs relining in order to use my furnace which may or may not completely fail in near future.
After having a chimney inspector visit this past Monday, Val and I essentially decided that we’re going to forget about our current heating system and go for a dual-zone heat pump if we can swing it. I’d rather spend three or four times as much for something that adds value to my house instead of a big chunk of change out of pocket to fix something that could still break in the future.
So I had a contractor come by today, and I have another one coming by tomorrow for estimates on installation.
It’s not that Val and I were never planning on putting in a better heating/cooling system, but man. We sure weren’t expecting to go for it this soon, and certainly not while we’re relying on two space heaters to keep us warm in a rapidly cooling October 🙂