Monday, March 16, 2009


This morning I had a burner tech from the oil company I do business with come out to my house to deal with an ongoing problem with my furnace. For the past two weeks (approximately) I’ve had to manually reset the burner unit because the temperature in my house would fall below the set point. When this happened, the thermostat wouldn’t pick up the match between the set point and the actual temperature. And the temperature would continue to fall.

It is no fun when you have to get out of bed really, really early because you wake up cold and discover that the temperature in the house is 10 degrees lower than it is supposed to be for that time of day or night.

Today’s service call was the fourth one in the past 17 days. For whatever reason the techs who’ve been coming out to the house have not been able to get it right, and it has cost me considerable money because of this. However, this time I think they got it right. Mainly because I did the leg work for them before they came out.

There is an electro-magnetic relay that houses the manual reset switch. This relay and the reset switch control the furnace’s ignition, and with the thermostat in the circuit it forms the equivalent of an “open circuit” condition when the burner is not engaged. When the temperature reaches the set point, the circuit, in principle, is supposed to close and the burner is supposed to turn on.

That was happening only intermittently at best. And the times it didn’t were always inopportune, because it was at zero-dark-thirty without fail. The problem was with that magnet; it somehow became disengaged from the rest of the relay. And the whole assembly needed to be replaced.

This happened to me before, many years ago in a house I had owned. Same problem. Same part. But this time it was much more expensive. So I will be trying to use gentle persuasion with my oil company to try and get the charges (almost $400 for the work so far) reduced.

Will they go for it? Fat chance….


TOTWTYTR said...

Then find another oil company. If they won't make good on their previously inadequate work, then what else are they willing to cheat you on?

Walt Trachim said...

No worries there - I'm already looking for another dealer. I am also looking at hiring a tech that is not affiliated with whomever I decide to do business with.

Michael Morse said...

Hello Walt,

I thought of this while reading your post. I'm feeling very poetic lately, must be spring!

Oil company worker captures elderly couple’s tragic loss

01:00 AM EST on Sunday, March 8, 2009

When David Dragone was working for Santoro Oil Company, he paid a visit to Mr. and Mrs. Gallo, an elderly couple in Providence. He wanted to check on the Gallos’ heating system and measure the oil in their basement tanks. David and Mr. Gallo got to talking down there in the basement, and before long Mr. Gallo, age 87, began to wind out the tale of his long life, as the very old are inclined to do. He told David the story of his twin sons, who had died together in an accident some 22 years before. He started to cry as he talked, and David, a complete stranger, was understandably both a little embarrassed and deeply moved by the awkwardness of the moment.

This happened some 10 years ago, as David now recalls: “I actually wrote most of my poem while sitting in my car directly after the appointment, feeling as if I would need more time to sort out what had just happened. By the time I left Mr. Gallo’s home, he was out of tears and I was having my own difficulties with frozen words that could not be thawed out just then. After about an hour, I had to get on with my next appointment, so when I got home I began working on the end of the poem. When it was finished I sent a copy to Mrs. Gallo, who sent me a card of thanks.”

David worked primarily in oil company sales up until about seven years ago, when he recast himself as a piano tuner, violin teacher, and performer. He lives now in Middletown with his teenage son and wife Joanna, a nurse at Rhode Island Hospital, and says he’s been writing poems off and on since the 1970s.Mr. Gallo at Eighty Seven

It wasn’t as if I’d been ready

When he told me about his twin dead sons —

About how he and his wife had lost everything

In an eye-blink. We stood in his basement,

Beside the two identical new boilers

Standing right next to each other.

I measured the oil in his tanks

While he slowly sized me up.

That’s when he told me about his boys —

About how good they’d been —

About how one had gone to Brown

And the other to Boston College.

He’d worked in the cafeteria at Brown

To pay for one son’s meal ticket,

Sacrificing down to his thin Italian bones

For the other. They were good boys,

Both on pre-med scholarships.

He looked at me for a second

And then told me about the accident —

About how they died at the same time —

Too early.

Standing in silence on the dirt floor,

I watched him cry

From the deepest place in his house.

Then he went upstairs.

He showed me their pictures

Housed in a double frame.

His wife came home with a bag of groceries,

Rescued him without words,

And re-told me the story.

She said it happened 22 years ago —

About as close as yesterday.

I said their life together

Meant something. I showed them

Pictures of my children.

I left them very slowly,

Hearing the boilers start up — the twin fires

Side by side

In their hearts burning.

Walt Trachim said...

Beautiful. It brought a tear to my eye as I read it.

Thank you, Michael.