If you must breathe, try not to inhale.

 January, 2008


This January, the excitement at the Maloney Ranch reached alarming levels, especially on the afternoon when Wendy came home to be serenaded by the Chirping Song of the Carbon Monoxide Detector. As music goes, it was strictly monophonic and slightly obnoxious but highly memorable. The lyrics go something like this: Beepbeepbeepbeep, beepbeepbeepbeep, beepbeepbeepbeep, beepbeepbeepbeep, beepbeepbeepbeep. I give it a 10-- you can't dance to it, but it will save your life. Wendy called the fire department, who snapped into action by immediately dispatching a fire truck to our location. After gaining entrance, three firefighters were immediately overcome by our decor and had to seek Post Traumatic Stress counseling (just kidding!) Actually, the men measured a concentration level of 74 PPM (Parts Per Million) of Carbon Monoxide in the air inside our home. At 100 PPM they make you evacuate and certify the premises unlivable, regardless of your wallpaper. As a side note, one of the firefighters
told us that if we had a bird inside our house, it would have died. That's not news to me-- we can't even keep a fish going - monoxide or not.

As it turned out, our 22 year old furnace had developed a Death Wish by cracking its heat exchanger. As it ran, our gas-fired central heater was pumping the air inside our home full of deadly toxins. Later on,  someone asked me why we didn't notice the headaches and the flu-like symptoms that accompany low level CO poisoning. Headaches are normal operating procedure at the Maloney Ranch..... after all, we have teenagers here.  As for being occasionally dizzy and disorientated... marriage can account for that.   We evacuated the house, spending the night with Wendy's aunt and uncle, while I arranged to have a new furnace installed the next day.   At 7 AM the HVAC guys showed up and proceeded to remove the old Borg-Warner "Do-In Yourself" model , replacing it with a new, safer American Standard unit. It is decidedly 'high-tech'- it has no pilot light and it sounds like the Batmobile when it starts up.


   We also replaced our 'whole house' humidifier at the same time.  The old one was rather unique- not only would it put moisture into the air, it was also an efficient mildew generator for our laundry room. Call me a nonconformist, but I thought everybody had moss growing on their washing machines (kidding again!) The whole job was finished in less than 4 hours and set me back less than $1,800- which is a whole lot less than even a single funeral. Now the only colorless, odorless and tasteless thing in my house that is trying to kill me is my mortgage.

The moral of the story is-- Have your furnace checked every two years.  Get a carbon monoxide detector- install it-- and listen to it. If it goes off - call 911. If you don't, the chirping tune you hear may be your last.

After spending a refugee night with Wendy's relatives, Uncle Al asked me how well I slept at his house. I replied, "Not as well as if I been in my own bed." (rimshot)

Gotta go, I'm getting a buzz from all that fresh oxygen in my house.

Neil