Saturday, January 06, 2007


Things have been entirely too eventful around here. On Thursday night, the downstairs carbon monoxide detector went off. Suspecting a defect, since it came with the house and is of unknown age, I checked the upstairs detector too, which offers a digital readout of CO levels. It was reading above zero, not very high but still above zero. Uh-oh.

In the fall of 1998, we had a similar alarm in the old house that led to complications and cost money. The old heater in the old house was oozing the gas, probably because the previous owner had neglected annual maintenance on it. Bad news: we need a new heater. Good news: the house was still under warranty, which actually paid for the new heater. More bad news: all the air ducts needed to be removed, and some of them had been wrapped long, long ago with asbestos tape. Worse news: we needed asbestos remediation before the new ducts could be installed. Worst news: it cost a lot, and wasn’t covered by the warranty.

I knew about the asbestos, and fully planned to follow the house inspector’s advice on it. Don’t touch it, don’t move it, don’t do anything to it. But that wasn’t an option because of the bum heater. I didn’t know about the bum heater because the inspector had missed that. Oops. Argh. To live is to war with trolls.

So I was fully aware on Thursday that a little alarm like that could mean big trouble, over and above the fact that poison gas was in the house. If it were the heater, I’d really be steamed, because I paid to have it inspected and cleaned last month, and the tech said it was in fine shape. Or would there be a new gas water heater or stove to buy? And what other costly secrets would the house reveal in the process?

Firemen came at my request and confirmed that, indeed, CO was loose, but not in hazardous quantities. They radioed the gas company, who in turn sent a gas tech, who checked for CO emission. It was coming from the stove, upon which soup had been cooking for sometime. One of the disks covering the burner was misaligned, causing an unclean burn. Once the burner was turned off, it’s quite easy to put it back in alignment. That was it. The gas tech was polite about it, but I was fairly certain he was thinking “idiot.” I cracked the windows a short time and the CO vanished.

Idiot, maybe, but I did sleep pretty well that night. Dodged that bullet, I did. But Friday was another day.


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