A WISE man would NEVER tempt karma, and Mother Nature!

I’ve lived in an elderly mobile home since 2009. I have learned LOTS of things in that period of time! Things like how to bleed my own furnace line.

As many times as my furnace has gelled for not using a winter blend, stalled because of frozen water built up in the filter, or simply run dry, I would have spent enough on service calls by now that I could have bought a 20 room mansion in Kennebunkport if I hadn’t learned how to bleed a furnace line.

The person who installed the oil tank lacked the presence of forethought I possess and set the tank with the filter on the north side, where it never gets the sun.

This means that any water picked up by the filter will eventually freeze, and stop the flow of fuel to the furnace.

This year I was on top of my game, though! Long before it was cold I found this really neat little low-wattage heat bulb that would be used in an aquarium with some kind of snake, or lizardy thing. I knew it would be just the thing to install over my oil tank filter.

I installed the bulb in one of those little dome deals that you use to keep chicks warm in the spring and set it up in the little house looking thing that protects the filter from falling ice and snow. The first night we had subzero weather forecast, I plugged it in, and walked away with a smile.

I forgot all about it until one night we came home from a trip to the movies and I saw what looked like a merry blaze burning away over by the oil tank.

I ran for the hose to battle the blaze before the old homestead could burn to the ground, and that is the last thing I remember…until I came to sitting on the rear bumper of the ambulance sucking on an oxygen mask. My wife was standing there looking at me like I was some kind of idiot, and the paramedics were snickering at me.

Apparently, I was not a hero… The “fire” was just the glow of the heat lamp, and in my attempt at heroism I tripped over something in the yard and knocked myself unconscious…

OK…Most of that was a bit of whohash…I DID see a fiery glow, and I DID think to run for the hose, and then I pictured the above scenario as I realized what I was really seeing, and how silly my moment of panic was.

That little glow under the oil tank was a happy reminder that THIS year would be the year I would win! I wouldn’t have to thaw my furnace lines in subzero weather!

I was bragging about that to my father in law just yesterday in fact. I was talking about how I had ruined my favorite gloves because they had been covered in so much heating oil from all the time I spent thawing the line, and how I wouldn’t be doing that anymore!

This morning I was talking to my son about gloves. He was getting ready to go out to the bus. Gloveless. I sarcastically told him how terrible his parents were for not buying him mittens or gloves, and he agreed. I reminded him that we had just bought him gloves a week before Christmas, and he had already lost them. He said we should have known he would lose the first pair and bought him two.

I was telling him how I only had one pair, and how they would likely last me a couple of years when I heard the furnace come on, and as the burner fired there was a high-pitched whine that REALLY did almost cause me to have need of the paramedics, followed by a sound that almost sounded like a buzzing noise before the burner shut down, leaving nothing but the blower running….The furnace lines had frozen!

I knew I wasn’t out of fuel yet, I had just had one of the shiny trucks from Fettinger Fuels visiting me a couple of weeks ago, and although it was cold, I was pretty certain it wasn’t cold enough to gel the No 2 heating oil in my uninsulated tank yet, so it HAD to be the filter.

Not wanting to go out into the cold I made an attempt to refire the furnace and sighed with relief when it came back on, only to groan in defeat as it shut down again moments later.

NO BIG DEAL! I have done this MANY times before! Piece of cake! I will just go into William’s room and get the heat gun, and go heat up the filter! I wouldn’t even need to open Will’s window to plug it in because I cleverly used an outdoor power box to plug-in the heat lamp!

Now… that heat gun has been in William’s room since the first time I had to thaw the lines. He has an outlet right under his window, and the cord was just long enough so it reached the filter giving me room to spare. Do you think I could find it this morning? NOPE! No way!

I searched high and low. I was just getting ready to head into Newport to buy a new one when I decided to look under the bathroom sink, where I found a hair dryer left behind by the previous occupants! A stroke of pure luck!

I got out to the tank and discovered that the recent round of snow had apparently touched the hot bulb and caused it to burst, but in less than 10 minutes time I got everything thawed, and the furnace lines bled easily.

And as I sit here typing this, smelling of heating oil, I can at least be happy to know that this time, I DIDN’T get my gloves covered in it!

Next year there WILL be an insulated box covering the whole tank! Oh sure, I’ve said it before…But THIS time? This time I REALLY MEAN IT!

Doug Alley

About Doug Alley

I grew up in Bath, Maine in an upper lower class family with 3 step sisters, a step brother, and a little sister. After high school I spent 3 years serving in the USAF at Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage AK. I've competed in, and won, demolition derbies. I've competed in, and never won, stock car races. I am the 47-year-old father of an 11-year-old boy who is pretty sure he is smarter than I ever was. We live on a little less than an acre of land in a 1973 mobile home in Stetson with my wife Jen, some cats, a few chickens, and rabbits, and a couple of goats. I hunt, fish, camp out, dabble in photography, gardening, and I cook in variable degrees of near success.