Life is a Battle and Then Your Fire Goes Out

One thing that I have noticed during our eighteen months in America is this everything is an uphill battle. Everything is hard to figure out, from completing your two hundred-page tax return; to understanding what Southerners are actually saying when they speak. Trying to figure out why so many All-American companies have more foreigners answering their help desk telephones then Americans (or people who could conduct a partial conversation in English for that matter) is another matter for serious study and debate. The fate of the entire universe lies within the battles fought to get the answers to these questions.

Now don't get me wrong here, I don't expect life to be easy by any means or standards. I just genuinely feel that I should not be fighting some of these battles; they deserve to be fought by people who live in a tropical paradise or by Dobbie your House Elf. The Queen of England does not wash windows, Gandhi did not bath, and Le Perdu (that's me) does not do Thai massages, carpeting, deep-sea fishing or American Football. I don't give refunds or do car washes either.

My newest battle came to an end last night and I figured that some of you might get a kick out of my toils.

I recently discovered that although the Air Conditioner unit and blowers work, the furnace in my thirty six year old house was broken. I found this out when I turned the heater on and received a house full of room temperature air. This is not very useful on a cold night. With winter coming along I figured that I should attempt to fix it myself before shelling out some of my hard earned cash to pay a handyman to fix it for me. A friend provided some advice as to how to trouble shoot the problem, and depending on the results he gave some possible solutions. Since the weather has still been good lately I have been putting this task off, but last night I decided to put some time aside to "fiddle" with it.

What an ordeal.

The first thing I did was remove the thermostat (which is downstairs) cover and then followed the heating and setup instructions provided on the back of the cover to the tee. No decent results (or heat) were forthcoming, so I went upstairs and removed the heaters front panels so I could check the current flowing through various wires with a Multimeter. It is worth mentioning here that I have absolutely NO idea how to use a Multimeter, I must have been asleep for that lesson some years ago. I probed at the various pastel colored wires, while staring at the Multimeter and wondering what the displayed numbers represented. To make sure the Multimeter worked I stuck both probes into a plug and it showed 118V. I figured that either I had gotten lucky for not getting shocked to death, or the Multimeter was almost indestructible and idiot proof. I also have no doubt that the Multimeter's warrantee is officially null and void now.

After staring at the furnace for a good twenty minutes I decided to tighten all the screws in the hope that a loose one would be the root cause of the problem. But still nothing happened, and to make matters worse the machine was now completely dead and nothing worked at all. Then, in a stroke of genius I figured out that I needed to go back downstairs and replace the thermostat cover and actually turn the heater on. I did this and found that still nothing worked. I broke out into a cold sweat and started having visions of writing a very large bank check out to a heater technician. Then I remembered that there is a safety switch on the front of the furnace unit that requires the covering panels to be mounted before the unit will turn on. I mounted it, which caused the machinery to spring to life and start cold blowing air all over me.

I stood their grinning like a triumphant idiot and had an intense sense of partial success, especially now that it was functioning at least as badly as it was before I started fiddling with it.

Throughout this drama I was on the phone talking to a friend named Richard, who lives in the UK, where it was 2AM. He is an electrician and he was trying to guide me through the saga of figuring out whether the heater had electricity going to it or not. The fact that it is a gas unit that heats air and not water or oil had him completely stumped. In reality he was useless when it came to fixing the furnace but the conversation was most welcome.

Please click the link to read the rest of this comical incident involving a gas furnace on a cold winters night.

Le Perdu is a contributing author on, a growing site dedicated to random reading, obscure articles, and some rather 'out there' opinions. We dare to be different, and we are always looking for articles and authors.