Sunday, October 19, 2008


Today is a beautiful day. The sun is shining and it's cool but not yet cold. I woke up with a cold nose. That always tells me it's time to have a fire in the fireplace. I love fireplaces. I love the smell of a wood fire. I wouldn't want to have a house that didn't have a fireplace. Our old house, in Pennsylvania, had three wood-burning fireplaces. I was so happy about that. The more fireplaces, the better. But I didn't have to chop the wood and haul it into the house and build the fires. My husband did that.

Now we have a smaller house with only one fireplace. It's a gas fireplace. It looks really cool, open on three sides with stone all around it. It's awfully convenient... you just push a button on the remote and it comes on. There's one problem: every fall, we have the "fireplace fight". I am not good at mechanical things, and my husband is no better. We can never figure out how to get the pilot light lit and the fireplace working. I start out by turning the gas on, which makes us both nervous because we are afraid of the house blowing up. Then I try to follow the manual that came with the gas logs, pressing buttons and flipping switches. It's complicated because the diagram in the manual does not exactly match the controls on our unit.

So, I am sitting on the floor, trying to get the pilot light to come on. I get frustrated and my husband comes over to see if he can make it work. He says I am not doing it right, but he can't make it work either. We get irritated with each other. I start flipping switches again and he says "what do you think you are doing?". I say something like, "well then, let's see you make it work".

This usually goes on for twenty minutes or so. We finally decide to call the service department where we bought the gas log thingie. Of course, it's Sunday so there is no one there. One of us decides to give it another try. By some random luck, we manage to push the right buttons and flip the right switches at the same time... and the pilot light comes on!

But now the fireplace won't light up. We think maybe there is something wrong with the remote. So, we change the triple A batteries in the hand-held thingie and replace the double A batteries in the receiver. It still won't turn the fire on. After more fiddling, my husband bypasses the remote and starts the fire manually. I am happy for 30 minutes until I try to turn it off. Now it won't turn off! Should we shut off the gas? My husband says yes, and I say no, we might never get the pilot light on again. This has happened every year since we moved into this house. It always starts a fight. So now, he is off hitting golf balls and I am here typing on my computer. Will we get this problem solved? Who knows? We need an on-call mechanical/electrical serviceman. Oh, and our ceiling fan won't work, either.


Valerie said...

Isn't it funny how we do things every year, and yet every year it is difficult. Like warm weather makes us forget how to deal with cold weather. I am jealous of the fire place you have. I can't have one because we live in government housing. Although, one of the electric ones would be cool too. This year maybe you should write down what you do to get it working properly, and then file it somewhere for next year. Just a thought.;-)

pierre l said...

I only know how things work in the UK, of course. Firstly, you are expected to have your gas fire inspected every year. Secondly, our boiler (which is on all year round to heat the water) has a safety device which cuts off most of the gas if the pilot light isn't on. Valerie's suggestion probably doesn't work because, like most computer problems, by the time you have solved it you don't remember the steps you've taken, or which ones were important.
Good luck with your heating.

anya said...

That is so funny! I can just picture that scene. I love a wood burning fireplace too. In this house I have a wood burning stove which is kind of the same but in my opinion not nearly as good. In my ranch I had a wood burning fireplace with a gas thing that you turned on till it got burning then you turned the gas off. That was my favorite! No effort involved as long as the logs were laid down properly. Still, I'm happy for the stove. Keeps the house much more evenly warm than the central heat. Wood is cheaper than anything else here in the mountains too!

judy in ky said...

I was hoping it would sound funny... more funny than pathetic! It's one of those things you laugh about AFTER the fact.