Sunday, April 3, 2011

Our Friend Craig

Craig, as in Craigslist. 

Mike and I love a good deal, I mean really love a deal.  That's probably why I get a Craigslist posting in my email box at least once a week from my partner in crime.  Some are useful, like this DSLR camera (something I've been shopping around for awhile now):


And some are downright weird, like this one that gives me the heebie-jeebies:


So it came as no surprise when I got a call from Mike saying that he had found another gem on Craigslist:


Yes, that is a furnace (the listing didn't include the plenum (big gray metal top), which one of the guys on Mike's jobsite made for us).  You see, one of the major projects we have planned since we moved in, is to remove our chimney (seen in the floor plan below) that is currently taking up prime real estate space in between our kitchen and dining room.  By removing the chimney (and the closet), we can then extend the kitchen into the dining room and create more of an open layout.   


This was the plan, a plan that was to be in the future, far into the future.  That was, until we noticed this:


No, it's not some alien life form growing in our guest room, it's water damage from water leaking through the flashing of the chimney on the roof.  This just shoved our future chimney removal straight into the very now present. 

For those waiting for the connection between the chimney project and a new furnace, here it is.  The function of the chimney, since we don't have a fireplace, is the venting of the fumes from the furnace and the water heater.  We knew in order to remove the chimney, we would need to replace both of these to higher efficiency models.  The higher efficiency units use a condensing process, which cools down the exhaust gases down so that they are able to be vented using PVC piping, which can vent horizontally out the side of the house.  We thought we would have time to shop for some deals and save up for the new units, seeing as how a new high-efficiency furnace can run close to $2,000-$3,000.  Not something we were looking forward to spending.

Cue the angels singing as Mike found a slightly used high-efficiency furnace on Craigslist.  The seller had a house almost exactly the same square footage as ours and recently put a large addition on.  This created the need to replace his perfectly fine working furnace with a bigger one.  For only, wait for it, $275!  That's right, if it takes a poop in the next five years, who cares, it was less than 10% of what we were originally budgeting!  

Not only were we super lucky that we got it, (when Mike called to arrange to pick it up, the guy said that someone else had called and wanted it too, Mike asked what he could do to ensure he got it, and the guy replied "Well, who ever gets here first can have it." I'm glad I wasn't in the truck when Mike sped off to get it!) we were also lucky that we bought it when we did, because you'll never believe what happened next.

After feeling calm and collected after jumping up and down for the awesome deal we just scored, (not to mention finding a new power-vented water heater for less than $600), we planned to spend the following two weekends installing the water heater and furnace.  Weekend one came around and Mike installed the water heater with little trouble. 

First the old one was disconnected:


Then it was moved out into the garage, and the space was ready for the new one:


Then Mike moved the new one into place, and hooked it up.  Here's the new one we were installing:


And it was that easy.  Okay, maybe not.  There was some re-piping, soldering, trips to Home Depot, drilling through the siding, installing the new PVC vent pipe to the outside.  But as far as installing a major household unit, it was relatively easy, for Mike.  I was there for moral support and the occasional holding of the pipe.

What did we do with the old water heater, may you ask?

Sold it on Craigslist, of course! 

Later the next week, it was Thursday night while we were busy planning on the furnace switch and enjoying our weeknight, when I noticed the thermostat wasn't responding to the call for more heat.  It was about 62 degrees when we usually keep it around 68 degrees.  Some more investigation led to the discovery that the old furnace decided not to wait until the weekend to get replaced.  It stopped working right then.  

Now, what are the chances that we electively decide to replace our furnace on Saturday and the old one gives out on Thursday?  I told Mike that after we moved the new one into the basement, the old one looked at it and thought, "You think you're going to replace me? Well fine then." and died right there. (I also thought the old furnace would have an Italian accent, not sure why).

So Thursday night we began the much more complicated process of switching the furnaces.  It began the same way as the water heater, first disconnecting the old one:


And exposing all the guts and insides:


Then, completely removing the old one, (all 150 pounds or so of it):

   
I'm not going to try to pretend that after the new one was put into place it was cake after that.  Mike spent Friday night and most of Saturday morning (as in, he didn't stop until 5 am on Saturday morning) hooking up the new furnace.  This included rewiring, re-piping the gas line, adding the PVC vent pipe, and all the electric hookups. 

One thing I learned was how I'll react if we were ever to have a fire in the middle of the night.  You see, at 5 am on Saturday Mike felt confidant in his work and turned the new furnace on.  This caused some dust to be pushed through the vents, setting off the smoke alarm upstairs.  I'd like to say I stay calm and collected and crawled on the floor before finding the source of the smoke (like they taught us in elementary school), but no, I ran around in my underwear running into walls, flailing my arms.  Benelli thought it was some sort of late night game and was excited.  I was less so when I found out what time it was, and that Mike hadn't been to bed yet.  After I calmed down and realized that not only dust was coming out of the vents, but also warm air, I was excited that my handyman was able to get it working.


And through all of this, there was only one casualty, our poor ceiling:


The ceiling had to be removed to add the new PVC vent pipe.  Adding one project just to finish another...story of our lives!

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