We’ve got gas!

Gas leaks. Big bills. Democracy gone awry. It’s been a tough week. Fortunately, our heating system is once again running smoothly and safely.

Let’s start at the beginning. We knew we wanted to upgrade our home’s aging oil-fired furnace to something a bit more modern, but what we did not know was just how old the current system was. During our first walkthrough post negotiations, the home inspector we had hired (Mark George, who was fantastic) was utterly surprised that the original, commercial grade furnace had survived this long. Forged in the fires of Mount Doom and lowered in to place by bodybuilders, it looked so good that it may have continued to run for another 70 years had we wished it to. Unfortunately, issues hid below… or should we say above?

A few weeks later, we brought in a chimney expert to survey the situation. We wanted to get a rain cap installed atop our chimney – as our current one was mysteriously lacking – and have everything else checked out. Having a home with a passthrough fireplace, we assumed the flue would need a little TLC. Little did we know that double sided fireplaces work poorly, if ever, and ours was immaculate. No one had ever used it.

The flue for the heating system, on the other hand, was another story entirely. Not only were the walls crumbling, the system itself had been vastly oversized for the home. Even if we wanted to repair it, the cost would have been exorbitant. We were told the flue would not last another season and to power down as soon as possible.

So, after weeks of research, countless spreadsheets, and a multitude of phone calls, we had decided to move on to a bigger and better source of energy. Initially, we considered geothermal and solar, even going so far as to bring in a local installer. But the payoff simply did not make sense. Perhaps after we finish paying off our mortgage. We decided on natural gas for its slightly greener emissions (than oil) and greatly reduced running cost. Too bad we live on the only street in town without a gas line (literally).

Why are monopolies still a thing? Eversource (aka FeverSores) is the only natural gas supplier in town. And guess what? The natural gas boom is over. Kaput. Eversource no longer wishes to extend their gas supply to potential customers. We’ll see about that. Hannah hit the phones.

It took 3 straight months of cold calling, emailing, and practically harassing the poor local representative to convince the utility overlords to take our hard earned cash. Eventually, we brought in our neighbors to convince Eversource that, yes, they would add several new customers to their monthly billing cycle by extending the gas line a few hundred feet.

One oil tank refill later, we completed the switch to natural gas.

The final install of our Rinnai tankless boiler – free thanks to MassSave! (excluding labor) – took place on Tuesday, November, 7. Election night. The polls were closing. Night had fallen. Yet, our Eversource meter inspector had not arrived. It was nearing 8 o’clock by the time our hookup happened.

And then, terror. It had been a few hours since gas had started pumping into our home, yet the air remained foul. Employees long gone had bled the lines, insisting that the smell would dissipate. Well, a call to the Eversource emergency line proved that to be a falsehood. Another hour went by before a tech showed up, an hour in which we were told to leave our home for the polar weather of New England.

Sure enough, there was a leak. Our newly acquired gas line would need to be disconnected. To make matters worse, the polls were taking a turn for the worse.

By Friday, our HVAC installers had returned twice to fix three separate issues. If we can stress anything when dealing with plumbers, let it be this: never settle. Do not let the utility company jerk you around and certainly do not hire plumbers based on their recommendation. Hop on Angie’s List, Home Advisor, even Yelp. Better yet, talk to your neighbors and find out who they have used. As our project proves, perseverance is required from start to finish. Do your research and know what you’re getting in to. Read up on what you should expect at every step of the way. If you’re unsure of something, ask. Do that and you might get to stay warm in the winter.

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