If, by chance, you should happen to wake up in the middle of the night and you realize you can see your breath, you may be out of heating oil.
This may surprise you, since it was only a few weeks ago that you also woke up in the middle of the night and realized you could see your breath. Yes, it’s been cold, but that is an awfully fast time to burn through that much oil. And you were so looking forward to paying the mortgage this month!
So what you do is to pick your way carefully through the basement to check the oil tank, to make sure it’s actually empty. Maybe it’s only that some rogue vole or porcupine woke from hibernation, stumbled into your basement, leaned tragically against the “emergency off” switch, and died. One can hope!
While you are down there, try looking around the rest of the basement to see if anything else seems amiss. If you see something that, in terms of heating ducts being where they should be, looks about as fine as this:
then think to yourself, “Gee, look at that.” Then go back upstairs, make some coffee and some cream of wheat, take the kids to school, go to an appointment or two, entertain a visitor, write some emails, make lunch, do a little laundry, and then have a seat for a minute.
At this point, you should think to yourself, “Wait a minute.”
Then think to yourself, “Wha?”
Then ask yourself, “Who the HUH?” Again, this is what you saw a few hours ago:
Go back down to the basement, and see if you can figure out what the hell happened here. With some examination, you may find that the heating duct has been so fabulously, extravagantly weatherized, it’s now much too heavy for the bittle little twist of rusted wire that was supporting it, and that while one end is still connected to the furnace, the other end, which is supposed to be heating the living room, is lolling on the basement floor like a comatose python. Yay, easy to fix!
Also, it may occur to you at this point that, if there is an 8-inch pipe bellowing hot air into the basement all month
then that might possibly explain why you ran through that oil so quickly. Ah so! See how smart you are getting? It must be the exhilarating effect of all that blood rushing to your brain from trotting up and down the stairs so many times in a single day.
From here on in, the story gets less interesting. Pretending not to notice the pathetic little nest made by some enterprising mouse, who had clearly found a balmy but short-lived paradise inside your duct
you just thread some wire coat hangers onto the pipe, screw a few sturdy screws into the ceiling, and hang the thing back up.
It is advisable, at this point, to email your husband several times about your accomplishment, and then when he gets home, ask him if he can go downstairs to “make sure you did it right.” Husbands: this is the part where you’re supposed to go, “Wow, GEE, nice job with those hangers! YOU did that with those soft, pretty little hands of yours, did you? You realize you have saved us over $75,000 in heating bills this afternoon alone! I also really appreciate you doing this job yourself, rather than making me go down into the basement to do it!” Then, ladies, you can let him come up out of the basement.
Stay tuned next week, when I will be offering a guide on how to keep your marriage strong and healthy by treating your husband like a real man and making him deal with that scrabbling mousy sound you keep hearing in the floor.