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February 17, 2014

Points East: A sweet deal on fixing the furnace

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — About three weeks ago, way past the middle of the night, Loretta punched me awake to ask, “can you hear that noise? It’s coming from the furnace.”

 I listened and, sure enough, I could hear a squeaking noise every once in a while.  I told her it was a bearing that needed oiling.  A couple days later I paid 6 bucks for a little tube of “bearing grease and oil” at an auto parts store because I couldn’t find any three-in-one oil anywhere and I’d looked or called all over the place. 

 But, when we went to the basement, there was no way that either of us could get to the blower or fan or whatever you call the contraption that makes air circulate throughout the house. We could stand there and tell that the noise was emanating from deep in the bowels of the big, green box where we routinely replace air filters.  The filter was clean because we replace them, on the premise of “better safe than sorry,” no fewer than four times a year, even though one is supposed to last a year.  

 The noise continued for several days and we could hear it every time the heat kicked on, until one night it changed from a squeak to a squeak and rattle.  We both agreed that we needed to “call somebody” but after a few days, the furnace kept on running and we sort of got used to the noise; until, one night last week, it changed again.   By this time we’d called several people but nobody had actually showed up to look at the furnace.

This time the noise was “Rattle-rattle, squeak, squeak, whump, whump, whump,” over and over and over and finally, in the wee hours last Friday night, the blower simply stopped running.  Dead silence prevailed. 

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