An Unexpected Expense

Fiscally responsible is not how I would describe myself, but I have been working on it.  I have cancelled all of my pre-booked $160 hair appointments, switched my $5.95 daily coffee to a regular $2.00 coffee, and stopped drinking alcohol on a regular basis – not that I was a heavy drinker, but it all adds up.  I’ve set up automatic withdrawls from my chequing to savings account at each pay period, plus I have RRSP contributions coming of my pay cheques.  Automatic payments are set up for my loans, and I will put all my extra money towards my credit card and line of credit.

Small changes should in time equal debt reduction.  I can only make small changes right now, because my poor spending habits only involve the little things.  Last night I was feeling pretty good about my plan, finally I was making a serious effort to change my financial situation.

“BEEP BEEP BEEP – Dangerous Carbon Monoxide Level Detected” – What was that?  I listen carefully and hear it again.  The new CO detector I installed in my bedroom is in alarm.  My first thought – It must be faulty.  But again the alarm goes off and the display reads 70PPM.  Can this be right? Do I have a CO leak in my house?  I unplug the detector from the wall and try to turn it off, but it won’t stop sounding the alarm.  The volume is ear-piercing, and I contemplate using a hammer on it to shut it up.  STOP BEEPING FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!  Again the electronic voice reminds me there are dangerous levels of CO floating through my breathing air.

I shove the detector under the cushions of my couch to stiffle the sound and then go about opening all my windows.  Next I tear apart all of my “junk” drawers looking for the damn manual – there has to be a way to turn it off.  While I search the house for the lost manual, I pick up the phone and call my step-dad.  Yes, at 41 I still call my dad when I need help.

“Unplug it” He grumbles

“Tried that, it’s still screaming at me!” I frustratingly exclaim

“Well maybe you have a CO leak.”

“I gathered that, but how do I shut off the detector?” I say a little more calmly

“Hmmm, have you read the manual”, he say’s helpfully

After about 15 minutes back and forth, I finally find the manual and tell him I will call him back.  I read hurriedly through the manual; looking for the “OFF” instructions.  I find it after another 10 minutes of reading through the lengthy user guide.  I silence the unit allowing my brain to absorb the reality that – I have a CO leak.  Oh God this can’t be good.  Being a single woman, my first instinct is to Google “What causes CO leaks”.

  • Wood-burning stoves – nope don’t have one
  • Gas stoves – mines electric
  • Vehicles idling in an open or closed garage, or near a home – car engines been off for at least 2 hours.
  • Vent pipe connections vibrating loose from furnace – Possibly??? I have a furnace; no idea if the vent pipe connection is vibrating loose.  What exactly is that anyway?

Equipped with some information I call my dad back.  Immediately he tells me it’s probably my 43 year old furnace.  “The heat exchange is probably cracked”, he states. “It may be time to replace that old junker of yours”.


EXPENSIVE – That’s all I hear.

My heart starts to race, as my mind tries to figure out how I will be able to afford this.  This, of course, is what happens with an anxious mind.  My exsisting debt is forefront in my mind, and I am trying to figure out where I am going to get more money.  I have plenty of room on my credit card, but I don’t want another $4000 – $5000 added to it.

My dad is talking to me, trying to tell me he will come haFurnaceve a look tomorrow, but I don’t hear him.  I’m thinking “what can I sell, what are my options, why is this happening”.  Finally I stop, I breathe, and then I listen.  Deep slow breaths, I say to myself, as I try to calm my shaken nerves.  OK, I can do this – one step at a time young lady.  I thank my dad and agree to have him come look at it in the morning.  I will have to take the day off of work, but this is my safety we’re talking about.

I go to bed with my window open, waking every 30 minutes to check the CO levels. The detector reads (00) all night, so at least the immediate risk is over.  The next morning, I wait with my coffee for my dad to arrive, and after some inspection he feels that I am safe for now.  The detector is still at (00) and he figures the strong winds may have caused a downdraft in my furnace flute.  He advises me to watch the detector, and if the levels go up again we can revisit the issue.  I should mention that my dad was a boiler maker for 40 years, so he has some experience with these things.

Feeling a little better, I devise a plan.  I have called two local furnace companies to come and quote me on a new furnace.  Although I may not need one now, it’s only a matter of time with a relic like mine.  Once I receive the quotes and settle on the best price, I will start to save.  I may need to pay my existing debt a little slower than planned, but at least I won’t be adding to it, or at least not as much.  With any luck the weather will get warmer soon, and the furnace will be off until September.  This gives me time to tuck away as much money as I can before I splurge on the new appliance.  Plus I have the day off work because I have to wait for the service techs to come by this afternoon.

Having a plan has calmed me, so maybe I will enjoy some time off and let my mind rest for a while.





2 Comments Add yours

  1. Pat Torello says:

    Congratulations on your problem solving and eventual calm. I would have panicked too and probably not have calmed down as soon as you did. Bravo! And good luck. All things come together in time for good.


  2. Smartygirl41 says:

    Haha, thanks Pat…. I’ve had years of practicing the art of calming myself down, most days I do pretty good – others not so much.


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