Friday, May 20, 2011

Upside Down House

What follows is a long, personal, shaggy dog story:

We've been having a few days of craziness in the house. It started two weeks ago when I smelled an acrid burning smell around midnight; I left my office and found that the smell was through the house; when I came upstairs I saw that there was smoke in the house. After evacuating my wife and three kids, all under 7, we entertained the fire department for an hour (my family went to stay in our minivan and watch DVDs until 1am when the all-clear was established). The FD was stumped as to the cause except that they found (using a cool heat/temp gun) that some ceiling lights were running very hot - nearly double the temp they were supposed to.

We were told to shut off the circuit-breaker for that part of the house, which in turn shut of my wife's office, our basement lights, downstairs bathroom, and electric stove. Since this was Thurs night, I couldn't get an electrician to come to the house until Monday. He arrived and said that he could see nothing amiss with our electricals. Which meant that we would need to follow the advice of the FD and tear the ceiling down to see why there was "heat buildup in the strapping."

Meanwhile, we noticed the smell persisted even with the electricity out. Moreover, we were told by our condo association that our drier's exhaust had been declared unsafe. So we simultaneously needed to get a contractor to demolish part of our ceiling, and get a dude to fix the drier hose. We were also due for a furnace checkup - and I suspected that the smell was from there anyway - so we needed all three done at once.

The furnace people claimed they couldn't come to see us for over a week. We did get the drier hose fixed but it didn't chance the problem of the smell that triggered this whole episode. We did tear the ceiling down - which rendered most of the first floor of the house inaccessible - and the electrician didn't find any reason for the smell-smoke-heat. I asked him to change all the wires and fixtures anyway - once we have the ceiling open - and he recommended we keep those new lights burning for a few days to see if there's any recurrence of the problem.

Meanwhile the furnace guy came and said - guess what - the furnace was busted. That's why we smelled the burning plastic and wires and - this is the best - why we saw the smoke! Because these punks didn't come to our house for 10 days after our calling them, we needed to pursue the electrician/contractor/ceiling route because until it was fixed we couldn't use our oven or basement.

Naturally the furnace guy said it would take most of the week to fix the furnace - he came Tuesday and the furnace is still not fixed... which is bad because Boston is freakin' cold in May.

In the midst of all this our drier - remember it, the one with the new hoses - broke. Just busted. And we managed to convince the contractor that he needed to put our ceiling up before the weekened (which I managed to do, and he did too, except it needs to be painted, so we still have no use of half of the first floor). But we do have electricity... and the drier and heat are to be fixed today...

All this happened at once. I do thank Hashem that we didn't lose all of the electricity, nor the hot-water heater (which, by dint of the pattern, should have gone belly-up).

And my daughter's second birthday is on Lag B'Omer and I'm leaving that day for a conference. Shabbas!

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