No Heat – Heat

No Heat – Heat

It is really winter now!

This morning I was puttering around and feeling kind of chilly. I ignored the feeling and carried on with my projects. But the feeling persisted, and then began to be more and more insistent on getting my attention. A quick look at the thermometer alerted me to the fact that the temperature in the house was plummeting. Neither the furnace, nor the heat pump, were able to get going. There was no heat.

With a wind chill factor of -22 outside, I was going to have to do something, and quickly. I realized that although we own several electric heaters, Attila had stored them somewhere, and I could not find them. So that option was not available. I dressed warmly and headed out to the side of the house to inspect the air source heat pump. I cleared the snow from it, quite a bit actually, we are experiencing snow squalls. I banged it on the side a bit, thinking maybe it would get going. No. Back into the house I went.

My next attempt was to turn the temperature up substantially on the thermostat, hoping that would inspire the system to leap into action. No.

My next attempt was to turn off the thermostat, and leave it for several minutes before turning it back on. Nothing. So back down to the basement I went to look for the electric heaters, they had to be down there somewhere! No luck finding them. But while I was down there rummaging through the piles of stuff, I heard a noise, and bingo, the furnace kicked in and began to run!

So I was in business, the house began to warm up, and after about a half an hour I could remove my toque and parka. I spent some time down in the basement and finally remembered where the electric heaters were stashed. I found them.

An electric heater won’t keep the house comfortable, but it will keep the pipes from freezing. I also need to know where the antifreeze is, so I can winterize the house if the power goes out. We have all that is needed here to survive a no heat situation, but I have to be able to find the materials needed if I am going to implement the plan.

With any luck the furnace will keep working for the rest of the winter!



Date: 9:00 AM EST Wednesday 30 January 2019
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 101.0 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: -15.0°C
Dew point: -17.7°C
Humidity: 80%
Wind: NW 12 km/h
Wind Chill: -22
Visibility: 16 km


“Good order is the foundation of all things.”
Edmund Burke
1729 – 1797


  1. Oh dear! Power outages (more common than furnaces quitting, here) are what scare me, as we don’t have a woodstove at GGFarm. Fortunately Scott has a generator that he can fire up if the power goes out for too long.

    The furnace at my sister’s didn’t work properly one night and the temperature in the house was 60F when I got out of bed. My nephew came over and flipped the breakers, even though they appeared normal, and that did the trick, thank goodness.

    It makes one realize pretty quickly how much we rely on electricity!

    Glad your problem was soon solved … but you must be wondering what happened, and concerned about it happening again and without the positive outcome. Good luck figuring it out and finding the fix!


  2. Thanks Kate! It is shocking how reliant we are on electricity! We have a generator, but I am not even sure where it is, I hope that I could find it if I was here alone. I am sure Attila has told me where it is, but I’ve paid no attention… time to write these things down and put the info on the fridge! At the country house we had the wood stove and the masonry heater, here we have only the generator. I prefer a wood stove, and if we have to replace the furnace I am hoping we can rearrange the basement to accomodate a small wood stove, so that we wi will have a good alternate source of heat. But we could survive here even without heat, but I’d have to get to the plumbing pretty quickly and get the whole place winterized… time to brush up on that procedure as well. I have a few ideas about the furnace, not going to let that drop, so the investigation will be ongoing. Maggie

  3. Eileen B.

    Horrible time for your furnace to decide to take a nap!! I was having problems with my furnace so had a part replaced and it was working fine and then one cold day the heat wouldn’t stay at what I had it set. Went online to check out the thermostat manual and found out that static electricity could screw up the thermostat. I reset it and voila…everything back to normal. So glad you were able to get your furnace working again, Maggie! Stay warm!

  4. Thank you Eileen! I had no idea static electricity could affect the thermostat, maybe that was the issue, it seems it could be since shutting if off and leaving it for a while seemed to get the whole thing working again. That will be the first thing I try if there are any issues in the future. it is cold all over North America this winter, stay warm!

  5. WendyNC

    So glad to read that the furnace kicked on again. This cold is scary, even here where it’s not so bad by comparison.

    Eileen, thanks for that tip about static electricity.

    We have ventless gas logs here because I was determined to have a heat source if the power went out. They stink, but it’s better than being cold!

  6. Wendy, I have been thinking that we need either a ventless gas or propane fireplace, or a wood stove, here at Mist Cottage for times when the power grid is out. I’ve been kind of waiting, because at some point our furnace will have to be replaced, and that would be the time to make changes. Good suggestion! I am truly sorry to hear they stink though, a factor to consider when the time comes to choose between gas/propane and wood. And since you brought up Eileen’s tip about the static electricity and the thermostat, it reminds me that I am constantly touching the thermostat to light it up so that I can check how my efforts to humidify the air are working… I need to reconfigure it to stay lit up so that I needn’t touch it during the winter months!

  7. Teri, so far so good. I have the location of the electric heaters fixed in my mind, so if another problem arises, that I can’t fix, I’ll get them setup, call for service, and then put on long underwear, heavy pants, sweaters, my parka, a toque, fingerless gloves, and start making soup on the range. The weekend approaches, the perfect time for a furnace failure! This happened to us once before in the city, the furnace (gas) was condemned and shut down on a regular service call on a Friday afternoon, the service guy just shut it down, turned his back, told me it wasn’t his problem, and walked away. Sears not only brought us electric heaters for the weekend, but also showed up Monday to install a new furnace. They are gone now, so I’m not sure just who I am going to call if we need a new furnace.

  8. Teri

    Holy smoke! There’s a guy who sure didn’t want more business or referrals! I would have been biting nails (the metal ones) on being treated like that!

    I’m sorry to say that any warranty you might have on your furnace won’t be valid anymore. They all got bought up but the new owners only collect the debt, they don’t service the products.

    Maybe searching the brand name and “service” might help?

  9. I know Teri, we didn’t call that company in again to do any work or maintenance!

    That gas furnace was in our city house, the house we lived in before we moved to the country house. It was a long time ago now, over 20 years, so the original furnace there that was condemned was quite old and inherited with the purchase of the house, the new furnace we paid to have installed is over 20 years old now, so if it still works it would not be under warranty.

    Our present furnace was here, and only a few years old when we bought Mist Cottage in 2010, there was no warranty info, and now, almost nine years later, I would doubt that even if we did have a warrantly, it would have expired.

    So we are down to looking for a service person to work on the furnace. Attila has some ideas on local people to ask for recommendations, so hopefully that process is completed long before we need to replace the furnace, or have it service! Good idea to search on the brand name of the furnace, that is something I can do!

  10. WendyNC

    Maggie, the propane gas logs stink because the propane stinks. On its own, it is propane is odorless and colorless, and a propane leak can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. The stink element is deliberately added as an alert if there is a leak. However, our supplier, with which I’m not too pleased, seems to add extra stink and we can often smell it when the regular propane furnace is running. There’s nothing wrong with our furnace–everybody around here has the problem.

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