I have been off of the road this week and have noticed that the leaves are turning here in Western Pennsylvania. The temperature has been dropping and got pretty cold overnight, so I tried out the furnace. As I switched the thermostat from cool to heat, I heard a click, some gas released, the normal procedure that I remember from last winter, but this time the sequence ended with a loud rattling sound and no heat.
The neighbor came over and we got daring and took off the front panel of the furnace. There was a definite source of the rattling and humming, but I have never looked at a furnace without the cover. I felt led to loosen some screws and found a status light that was blinking. On the back of the cover plate, there was a chart of the status light indications. Of course solid green was good, but this light was blinking twice and repeating after a pause. The chart indicated that a valve was stuck open. I grabbed some more tools and removed more screws from a pipe getting closer to the source of the humming sound, and found a blower fan stuck. We cleared some debris, put some tubing back, all of the remaining screws, and the furnace kicked on. The house was getting warmer and more importantly there were no explosions, not that I was worried, but I did leave my neighbor and stood behind a wall when I flipped the power switch.
I have fixed all kinds of computer problems and do some pretty advanced troubleshooting on electronic devices, but I got the biggest sense of satisfaction fixing my furnace and feeling the heat coming out of the vents. There’s just something about fixing mechanical things, using tools, and having a pile of leftover parts at the end. I walked around all week hoping that something else would break.