Now that we’re deep into a nasty winter it’s pretty obvious that the furnace residing in my basement has been working overtime for many months.  I have a hate/hate relationship with the little devil since I have to feed it a constant diet of #2 heating oil and it has a tendency to once a year do something stupid like break down.

This is the latest breakdown story.  To set the scene…

Last Wednesday night I noticed a wet spot on the basement floor that had obviously been in place for a while since I also noticed loose floor tiles and mold growing behind a bookcase.  When you can pick up a previously cemented to the floor piece of tile with your fingers this can not be a good sign.

I can’t find the source of the water. I look everywhere.  There are no pipes in that part of the house and I’m pretty sure there is nothing buried below the basement.  I’m stumped and while I’m stumped the: “What is this going to cost me meter?” begins  running in my head.  I sack out and decide to tackle in on Thursday.

I rip up all the loose tiles and stack them haphazardly because I need to find the source of the water pronto.  Neatness doesn’t count in a race against mold and the clock.

I peer around the corner to the laundry room where the furnace I have now named Christine resides.  Almost on cue the burner kicks on and water starts to flood out from under the damn thing and it’s path is right under my workbench and to the area where I’ve removed a dozen or so floor tiles.

Now, here is where the story gets really good in a slap yourself in the forehead kind of way.  Sensing that something is amiss I immediately call my local heating contractor with whom I have a furnace (blackmail/extortion) protection policy.

But wait, it’s after normal business hours so I get the answering service.  The conversation goes like this:

“Press one if you have a heating emergency.”  I press one.

” Hello this is XYZ plumbing – can I help you?”

“Yes, my furnace is leaking water.”

” Do you have heat?”

” Yes, but there is water coming out of the furnace.”

” There is an extra cost for the trip charge because it’s after normal business hours.  Can this wait until tomorrow?”

Let me repeat that slowly, the voice says…”Can this wait until tomorrow?”

At this point words are failing me except one beginning with the letter F that can be used as a noun, a verb, an adjective and an adverb. I appreciate the attempt to save me some money vis a vis the evening trip charge but this is no time to be penny wise cause soon I’m gonna be wet and foolish if I don’t get someone out here quickly.

I might add that one cat spends most of his time in the laundry room and he never said boo to me about the furnace.  Thanks, Bub.

In the end the culprit was a pressure relief valve that couldn’t take the pressure anymore and was relieving itself whenever it felt like it.  Hence the steady stream of relief for the valve.

Now what’s really funny is that when the service tech walks in and sees the furnace he says. ” Oh you have the B- 7 model. You know we’re always getting calls for parts failures on these things.”  Well, no I didn’t but now I do.  Sadder but wiser me.

The pressure relief valve now sports a bucket below it in case it can’t handle the truth or the pressure anymore.  I’m shopping for a new furnace.