Walden World

The wacky and wonderful tales of Beth's and Catherine's global adventures. And all things Walden too.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Lucky with Lillian

With cooler weather returning we've had to turn the furnace back up. Since Saturday there has been an awful burning rubber smell coming through the vents everytime you turn up the heat. Last night the burning rubber smell was the least of the problems. The carbon monoxide detector went off.

Thus I had to call the fire department. They arrived at 9:30 pm with a huge pumper truck, flashing the big nasty red lights, thereby causing everyone in the neighbourhood to stand outside our house and stare in. Our terrific neighbour Wesley even came by to see if we needed help. Not sure what he could do that the firefighters ensconced in full gear and airtanks couldn't but then again he used his really excellent tool kit to get us into our house, one night, when we locked ourselves out, so maybe he thought they needed a phillips screwdriver.

First off I got in trouble with the head firefighter for having a)turned off the furnace b)opened all the windows and c)opened the doors. Apparently when one is in danger of carbon monoxide poisoning you are not supposed to air out the place as it will interfere with their "investigation". Instead you are to leave the house tightly sealed, go outside into the cold rain and wait.

After much detecting and "sensoring" the firefighters advised that they could not detect carbon monoxide even when the furnace was up full blast. However everyone commented on the burning rubber smell and I was advised not to have the furnace on and to have it checked out.

The furnace guys dutifully attended this afternoon, stoked up the furnace and began their investigation. What did they find?

Well the furnace was stuffed full of little cat toys. There were two or more little rubber foam balls smoldering away in the furnace itself; one stuck in the vent and five or so more stuffed all around different areas of the furnace.

The head man said he had no idea how they got there.

I did. We recently adopted a tiny cat, Lillian, who I say was 'just born bad'. Lillian has a serious congenital heart problem which accounts for her kitten like size although she is full grown. To see her in action is to wonder whether the vets got their diagnosis wrong.

The cat has the strength of 10 grinches plus 2 and has thus managed to lift up every single vent in the house and run ripshod through the furnace ducts. We've tried everything from chairs, heavy pots to huge boxes of books to cover the vents and though she weighs only an approximately skinny little 5 pounds, she has managed to move every heavy object and return to her caving expeditions.

So though she has been hiding all her toys in the furnace, causing us no end of grief, Lillian's hobby was, in the end, a lucky break for us. While trying to find the source of the burning rubber smell, the furnace guys found that the exhaust outlet pipe was cracked, thereby venting carbon monoxide into our basement.

So I have to say in conclusion, that while Lillian is a trial wrapped inside a pestery nuisance, if it were not for her love of vent spelunking, I have no doubt we would still be breathing some really nasty air.