W e got home from West Virginia the Friday after Thanksgiving. We unpacked the truck and settled in for the evening. The only problem...

W e got home from West Virginia the Friday after Thanksgiving. We unpacked the truck and settled in for the evening. The only problem was that my wife said that it felt cooler than normal in the house. I went to the thermostat and saw that it indicated that the auxiliary heat was running, but the outside unit was not running. The thermostat also read 64 degrees, though it was set to 68 degrees. I shut everything off, allowing the system to reset. The system started up, but quickly began to make a sound that we had not heard before. After a visit from our friend, a heating and air technician, we learned that the compressor on our outside unit had gone bad. The unit is 21 years old , so we declared it dead. Fortunately, the weather has been very mild since we got home and found this problem.

The emergency heat is working fine, but we did not want this to be our back-up heat for a prolonged period of time. We purchased a gas fireplace insert a number of years ago that we almost sold a few years ago. We decided to keep the insert, which we have used until now to knock the edge off on very cold winter days. Since last Monday, the fireplace insert has become our primary heat. We actually started using it on Sunday, but the bottle ran out in the middle of the night. I have a 100-pound cylinder that I purchased from Lowe’s. Getting this bottle filled was quite the journey, but after four stops, Dubberly Tractor filled it. I also had to purchase a new regulator and carbon monoxide/smoke alarm, since we would now be using a gas appliance.

Amazingly enough, using ceiling fans to our advantage, we have been able to keep the temperature on the thermostat (two rooms away) between 72-74 degrees. By the time that you get to the bedrooms, it drops a few degrees, but is still tolerable. So far, the insert is keeping us comfortable, though next weekend is supposed to be quite a bit colder. We have the emergency heat from the old system as a back up to the insert. Our new unit will be delivered and installed on Thursday. My point in sharing this story is that unexpected things happen when you least expect them. Whether you lose your heat, your power, your water or your refrigerator, what will you do? We are fortunate to have the many services and available equipment near us, as we do. My trips to Africa have allowed me to learn to live simpler. We have become spoiled about many things. What we think that we need, we do not really need. I have bathed out of a bowl, and we made a makeshift refrigerator out of a plastic container and a frozen water bottle. I do not say this to brag about anything. Problems are a part of life; therefore, problem solving must be a part of life as well. Whatever the issue is that you face, there is somebody to call, but it is just as important for you to figure what you will do, until the cavalry arrives.