A Near disaster.

When we moved into the house in West Nyack back in 1979, it was the cheapest house on the most expensive block in Rockland County, NY. We bought it for $40,000. It was a tiny bungalow with only a single gas fired “Gravity Heater” in the living room. The grill in the middle of the floor would fire up on cold winter nights and send hot air through the house. It was nice to stand on and feel the hot air, after being out in the cold.

Around 1985, I paid Sears to come in and install a baseboard hot water heating system. I had them include three zones with the third zone not hooked up.

In 1994, after paying off the 15 year mortgage, I refinanced and hired an architect. We put a second story on the bungalow and a side extension. We nearly tripled the square footage of the house. I hired a construction crew to build the shell and I did all the plumbing, electrical, and interior work as well as siding the house. I hired contractors to put on the roof. I used the existing heating zones to provide hot water baseboard heat to the second floor.

Last year the heat circulation pump died. Then I had problems with the water supply control valve. Sunday night the new pump died. The water started to boil away. The pressure valve did not refill the system.

The furnace started to glow cherry red. I woke up to the smell of smoke. I turned off the power to the boiler and it slowly cooled off, but it was ruined. Flames did not flare up, but the electrical is all melted. The solder was melted out of all the piping near the furnace and the boiler is a mess.

We have been heating the house with the wood stove, but I have to order some wood. I wake up and it is 50 degrees in the bedroom. The house warms up quickly when I start a fire. Erica puts some pots on the stove to boil and the sunlight helps warm the house. Luckily, it is not going below freezing at night so it is not an emergency.

I am going tonight to price a new furnace, but we have had some cash flow problems due to sick cats, a dead car, and other small items. The taxes on our house, now assessed at $700,000, are about $15,000 a year. Outsourcing has decreased the pay of a journeyman contract programmer to about $80,000 a year. I used to make $150,000, and in 2001, I made over $200,000. Now I have to sell off my stuff to make monthly payments.

I really miss the old gravity heater. I wish that I had not thrown it out. I am sure it would heat the whole house, even now. I remember cats lying in the middle of it with their fur all puffed in the hot air currents. You could almost hear the cat-fat sizzling.