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The Thermostat and the Furnace

Cautionary Tales is a podcast that I love listening to. The storytelling is fantastic.

This post is a cautionary tale.

The Black Screen

We found ourselves in the middle of a blizzard.

It was a Friday night, it had snowed most of the day, and the temperature was set to drop dramatically over the next few days.

We had come home after having dinner out—which was a bold choice in the middle of a blizzard—and as we were heading to bed, I saw it.

Our thermostat, which sits on the wall outside our bedroom, was just a black screen.

Normally, it would be lit up and displaying the current temperature inside our house.

I thought to myself, this can't be good.

The Issue

After trying several things—including calling the emergency hours furnace repair folks and not getting a response—my wife and I decided to try again in the morning.

It was a cold night, and a cold morning in our house.

Later in the morning, I was able to get hold of someone to speak to and after guiding me through some steps, we were able to isolate the issue.

First, a small digression.

How a Furnace Works

A furnace basically has two major components:

  1. The furnace itself—big, expensive.

  2. The thermostat—small, less expensive.

Back to the Issue

We had a broken thermostat.

It would need a full replacement.

The very helpful person on the phone also informed me that our thermostat had a five-year warranty.

It had been six years since we purchased it.


The Interesting Thing About Warranties

Here's what I didn't tell you about how a furnace works:

  1. The furnace itself—10-year warranty.

  2. The thermostat—Five-year warranty.

A furnace cannot run without a thermostat.

The Lesson

Any system is most likely to break at its weakest point.

Apparently new thermostats now come with a 10-year warranty.

Except now, our furnace only has four years left on its warranty.

It's easy to guess what might happen next, right?

purple background with a white thermostat image in the middle

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