Spam (madbodger) wrote,

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Well, the heater guys came and installed the new heater. It was a bit of a circus. It turns out the estimator switched the duct sizes for the supply and return ducts, so all the metalwork was wrong. Also, either the estimator or dispatch goofed, because they sent along an air conditioning pan, which wasn't going to work on our heat-only system. They started scratching their heads and cutting up sheet metal, in an attempt to adapt what they had so it would work.

Then they realized they didn't know if they could even get the new system into the house. The doorway inside the outside cellar door wasn't tall enough, and the inside stairs are somewhat rickety. They kept measuring doorways and saying it would be a tight fit. As I know the opening into the basement is narrower than any of our doorways, I thought I'd better ask how wide this thing was. 29", they say. Well, the opening into the basement is 27½", and making it wider would involve serious structural engineering. Turns out they were quoting from (poor) memory, and the actual width was 21". They were also scared that their (claimed) 600-pound heater might be too much for the stairs. They ignored my suggestion of having 4 of us (some 800 pounds' worth) jump up and down on them as a test. Of course, it got down the stairs just fine.

A while later, there was a crescendo of thumping and banging from the basement, culminating in "**** it, I'm leaving!" One of the guys stomps up the stairs and out the door, and drives off in his truck. Well, then. I wonder if I should call back the original contractor (the ones who still owe me money). It's getting pretty cold in the house by now. Eventually, the other guy comes up the stairs and wanders outside. After a while, the first guy comes back and they go back downstairs and resume their thumping and banging.

Eventually, another, older, fellow shows up with more parts, and the pace accelerates markedly. But they tell me they're running late, and since the old, larger heater won't fit, they'd have to break it up to get it outside and won't have time. Could I be around the next day for them to come get it? Nope, I have a job. Maybe I'll break it up myself tonight and haul it outside and they can come collect it at their leisure.

It turns out he had a bit of a surprise when he arrived. He saw the cellar door open, and decided to walk down the ramp I had installed back when I bought the house (maugorn and I used it to haul debris out of the basement with a wheelbarrow). But that ramp had been under the old leaky cellar door for over 12 years, and the plywood had deteriorated. The poor guy fell through. But it was only a couple of feet, and he didn't get hurt.

After a while, a fourth guy shows up and they really start going to town. They get the oil hooked up, and the electric and thermostat. Then they attack the ductwork with renewed vigor and eventually get it all patched together. Then they start hooking up the flue, and get ready to fire it up. They actually bothered to seal the flue, which was nice. There was some worry about getting the new, taller furnace to draft properly into the chimney, but that turned out to be a non-problem. Even with the furnace not running, the draft gate was deflecting some. I hope it doesn't suck so much cold air into the basement that the water heater freezes again.

One of the older fellows has been installing these things for 22 years, and explains that the younger fellows simply don't have much oil furnace experience, they usually install heat pumps. He also points out that the new furnace should be much more efficient than the old one, and could well pay for itself in a couple of years.

They get it running and there's an immediate whoosh of warm air. The new heat exchanger warms up much faster than the old one. It's noisier, though. The old furnace had a big heavy cast iron burner that had been soaking in heating oil for decades. It made a gentle hum when it was running, the noise from the flame was much louder. You could even hear the faint zap of the ignitor arc. The blower was much larger too, and spun at a low RPM, so there was just the gentle whisper of air through the ducts to listen to.

The new unit wasn't so quiet. The burner makes a fair amount of racket when it's running, and the blower runs at a much higher RPM, making a loud whir of its own. It does move plenty of air, and the system does work.

The four of them attack the old heater and start peeling off sheet metal and hauling it outside. They keep muttering that they need a socket set, so I grab one for them to use. They get it apart and haul the chunks outside. I nip out to recover the ignitor transformer, because I always have a use for high voltage transformers that are designed to withstand continuous arcing.

They button everything up, haul away the debris, and drive their four trucks away. Andrea and I clean up, close the cellar, and let the cats back out (they had objected strenuously to being sequestered while all this was going on). Then we went out for dinner and (more) Lego shopping. It was nice returning home to a nice warm house with no carbon monoxide worries.


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