Guest Blog

What's in Your Wallet? Err, I Mean, Attic

December 20, 2010
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Do you know what nasty stuff lurks in your attic or down in that dungeon you call a basement?  Of course you do, you probably installed it, or at least neurotically check and adjust some setting twice a day.  Being in the business, you’ve either scoured the earth for all of the best HVAC stuff known to any planet within this galaxy, or…, you stole a little bit from each job you did over the last five years, sort of like Johnny Cash working at the auto factory in One Piece at a Time.

 At least, you know what you’ve got, and how to “fix” it.  Not so for most of the rest of the unsuspecting public.  No, they trust you to keep them warm, cool, and blissfully uninvolved.  A trust, I fear, that is often greatly misplaced and unwarranted.  Allow me to illustrate this week’s tale of ridiculousness, as we again uncover our clueless peers.

This week’s adventure begins with a call to an oil company from a new customer with no heat.  It’s a Friday afternoon, a few weeks before Christmas, and everyone just wants the weekend to begin now.  The tired service tech arrives at the home, lugs his tools in after being greeted by the nice, oldish lady and heads for the basement.  “Oh, not down there” she calls out, “it’s up in the attic.  You’ll need a ladder”.

“What, the attic?  Huh?  Oh, no.” he shrieks.  Yes, indeedy; this house has an oil furnace in the attic.  As our tech makes his way up into the attic, I’ll remind you that there are way too many issues with putting an oil anything in an attic to bother with, such as weight, clearances to combustibles, chimneys problems, oil delivery (lift), CODE VIOLATIONS(!), etc.  It’s a nightmare, don’t do it.

So what did our superhero find?  Well, the reason that the furnace wasn’t running is because the oil wasn’t making it up to the furnace for some reason.  The customer informs you that she’s had this problem a few times since the other contractor installed it three years ago, but they are out of business now.  “No kidding; hmmmph, I never would have guessed.”  He continues “You have an upright, oil furnace installed horizontally, supported by two 2x4s, with zero clearance to combustibles, vented in single wall smoke pipe; oh, and there is a 100Amp service cable draped across it, wearing out from the vibration.  This is bad.”

Ok troops, the ball is in your court. What do you do?  Yes, of course you would do the right thing and shut that puppy down.  But will the rest of your colleagues choose as wisely?  What if the woman cries poverty, or says she has no place else to go? “Just get it running tonight, and I’ll have it fixed first thing Monday” she’ll plead.  Be prepared, that call is coming. (And yes, that was an actual call.)
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