#adultingFAIL Winter Edition - Heating

#adultingfail heating adulting adulthood house apartment winter heat warmth

Here comes an embarrassing and relatively obvious #adultingFAIL that took me by complete surprise - like an idiot. SMH

So, in the middle of February, my husband and I moved from our awful, tiny, first apartment into our first home (totally renting, because we are still living paycheck to paycheck….).  We were so excited to have our own space, a yard for the dogs, our own laundry room, a full garage, a REAL kitchen, etc. Although it was the dead of winter here in the northeast, we didn’t think about the heating system. It was working, and that was all we cared about.


One Saturday morning, I woke up fucking freezing. I assumed I just needed to throw on a sweatshirt, grab my coffee (Irish, of course) and curl up under a blanket with some trash TV show on Hulu. Usually, my body adjusts to the state of being awake and the extra kick in my coffee warms my soul. But this particular Saturday morning, I just couldn’t get warm. So after putting on socks, slippers, a hat and still not feeling any warmer, I got up to check the thermostat.

The numbers “51” confused me in my lazy, tipsy state. And I probably stood there just looking at it for a full two minutes. I eventually just started pushing the “up” button to no avail. This kicked me into gear – I HAD to find the source. Normally, I’m too lazy for things like this; I just wait for my husband to wake up (generally around noon or 1pm on the weekends) and make him fix it.

But my inner feminist took over.

I went searching for our fuse box, sticking my head as close to the furnace as possible to see if it was lit, occasionally banging on something or other to see if it made a difference. Of course, I searched pages and pages of Google results but everything was too technical – I just wanted a simple fix that would get me heat ASAP. I finally found our heating oil drum in the garage and it was empty.


We had never even thought to look, because heat was heat and we had it… until now.

So I did the big girl thing, and sent the Oil Company an online request for a fill. I didn’t call, because talking to people is just too much.

But they were closed because it was a weekend, so we had to wait until Monday to even schedule the fill.

It  just so happened that we went out of town that week. Our pup-sitter confirmed that oil was delivered, so we thought we were all set. On the last day of our trip, our sitter let us know that the heat STILL wasn't working. I don't know why she didn't tell us sooner, but, regardless, we got back to the house on a Sunday afternoon and the house was frozen. 

We spent another two days calling the oil place, calling our landlord, etc. trying to figure out why we still didn't have heat. I mean, it was empty, we filled it. We should have heat, right?

Turns out, there is a whole process called "bleeding the line" when you run out of oil. 

Of course, for most readers, this won’t be an issue because the only houses that use old-school heating oil are primarily in the Northeast, where they still think they are eternally stuck in the past.

But, just in case,

if you are someone responsible for your own heat, see what kind of heating you have, and be sure it doesn’t crap out on you. Learn from my frozen life fail and just check what kind of heating you have before November storms begin.

Here are the most common types of heating:

  • Furnace - Basics: Quite literally heats air through burning some type of fuel and sent through various ducts. Furnaces are relatively high-maintenance, and require regular professional servicing as well as fan and filter cleanings.
    • Gas-fired
    • Oil-fired
    • Electric-fired
  • Heat Pumps - Essentially a central air conditioner, but instead of taking the hot air from inside your house and transferring it outside in the summer, it "scavenges" for warm air outside and blows it through ducts. This form of heating uses electricity to move air instead of generating it, so your energy bill will be considerable higher, but you won't have to deal with the price of fuel.
  • Gas-Fired Heaters - Primarily used for a single room and does not use any duct work, so the heat output is relatively low. The maintenance for these small units are relatively minimal, but should still be checked every few years. And when it fails, it fails - there is only a small chance you will be able to fix  your existing heater.
  • Hydronic (Hot Water Baseboard) - Basics: Water heated with a boiler and sent through pipes on your wall. Boilers are relatively low-maintenance, but when they do fail, you usually have to replace the entire unit.

If you are super curious, here is a great resource with information for all types of heating sources.