So, it’s winter in Indiana, and cold is to be expected. Cold and snow. It happens every year. No one should be surprised. But, one thing that you learn growing up in this environment is that the cold makes ordinary things very difficult.
Example number one: my furnace went out on Wednesday, around noon. I didn’t notice until about 2, though I was luckily at home that day. It was pretty cold outside, but not terribly cold. Probably around 15 degrees or so. The house had already gone down to 55 and was losing a degree every 15 minutes or so. After messing with the furnace controls for about an hour, I realized from the diagnostic readout that the pressure switch was stuck open. According to people online, all you have to do is remove the panel and clear the debris from the pressure switch hose from the air intake. Remembering the last time that I invoked the home warranty that I have, where my attempt to fix it caused them to claim that they could not touch it, I did nothing aside from take the panel off to get the serial number and then closed everything back up.
After that, I started the oven at around 400 degrees and then opened it, and started a space heater in the basement. With the help of the oven, the main floor heated up to around 60. I cycled it on and off throughout the day, keeping it around 55 most of the time. After a little research, I heard that keeping the faucets running was a good way to keep the pipes from freezing. that night, we went and got another space heater, and Leah brought the one from school home, bringing our total to 3. We ran 2 in the basement, and one on the main floor, running the oven every now and then. We were able to keep it around 60 with this method. I was still afraid that the pipes would burst once we went to bed. With all the faucets slowly running, we went to bed, with a space heater and electric blanket.
I got up around 7, after not sleeping very well, and went out of the room to check the temperature. A solid wall of cold met me at the door. It was probably nearly 70 in the room with the little space heater, and the thermostat on the main level read 48. Yikes! Pipe freeze alarms go off at 45, so I had to start running the oven again. After 2 hours of oven, it finally rose to 50.
The furnace guy that I had called the day before was supposed to arrive between 9 and 12, and I was desperately hoping that he would arrive and fix it, because the next evening was to supposed to get very cold (and it did!). He arrived, did some quick diagnostics, pulled off the tube from the pressure switch, cleaned it, restarted it and it kicked on. I could’ve easily fixed it myself, if only I hadn’t been afraid of voiding the warranty. At any rate, it was working again, and the house began a slow rise from 51 to 64 over the next 12 hours.
Leah and I were both home from work that day. It was Leah’s 2nd snow day that week, as Laporte had gotten quite a bit more snow than we had, and we already had about 12-15 inches. Around dinner time, after reading horror stories about ice dams on your roof causing flooding when the snow melts, I went outside with the dog for about 3 minutes, then went to the front and shoveled off as much of the roof as I could. Then, I shoveled the walk in front of our house and the neighbor’s house. I guess that I had forgotten to check just how cold it was, because after about 10-15 minutes of being outside, I realized that I couldn’t feel my fingers or toes. Remembering that this was an early sign of frostbite, I quickly went inside to warm up, and after getting on my computer, realized that the outside temperature was -10, with a windchill of -35! After a couple of hours of tingly toes, I was relived to know that they would be fine.
As we were watching TV last night, a plow truck from the city badly negiotiated a turn and hit a control box on the corner across from our house. About 10 seconds later, the light started flashing red, and I got very upset. This same thing happened about a year ago, and it took the city literally 3 months to fix. A flashing light at a semi-busy street in front of your house makes it nearly impossible to get out in the morning, and furthermore, makes it quite dangerous for drivers on that road to queue up and quickly stop.
Now, I’m home from work again (though, with a computer and an Internet connection, I find myself still very able to produce work), because it’s -17 outside with a windchill of around -30. With cold like this, you have to be very careful. If you don’t stop and get gas and run out, you might freeze to death before the police or family comes to your aid. If you are shoveling snow or doing something outside and feel warm on the inside, you could get frostbite on your nose, ears, fingers or toes. It’s so cold, that even simple mistakes become terrible mistakes. It truly does complicate things.