Winter arrived unusually early and without much warning this year.
One day the temperature was in the high sixties and the next it plunged down below freezing.
We were only at the end of September and already there was a hard frost and several inches of snow expected. I should have made the seasonal upkeep of the furnace a priority on my list of things to do. Instead, I simply started it up and hoped for the best. The heating system made a strange sound when it kicked on and the air pouring from the vents smelled like burnt hair. I was counting on it working out those problems on its own because I had so much to do. I still needed to winterize the pool pump, put away the patio furniture and cover up the barbecue grill. I needed to buy rock salt, find the snow shovels and arrange for plowing our driveway. I also had to switch our summer clothes and shoes out for winter boots, knitted hats, gloves and wool coats. I made sure all the windows were shut tight and checked to see if any caulking needed to be done. Meanwhile, the weather continued to worsen and the furnace struggled. I turned up the thermostat several times. Eventually, the furnace simply quit, leaving me no choice but to call for professional service. When the HVAC contractor took the heating unit apart, he showed me the disgusting buildup of dust and debris within the inner workings. He said that the malfunction could have been prevented with a quick and inexpensive tune-up in the fall. Instead, I paid a huge repair bill.