I mentioned recently that I had some work done on my furnace. While he was there, the service technician and I talked a bit about my unit - I wanted to get his opinion on its estimated lifespan. I don't know how old the furnace is - the house was built in 1847 and I bought the house about 5 years ago, so it is somewhere in between there. It doesn't look ancient but the technician told me that the company that made it was bought by another company and the unit is now obsolete. In fact, repairmen have taken to writing where you can get parts for it on the outside of my furnace in Sharpie.
Scott, my repairman, said that while my furnace is a pain to work on, in his opinion, as long as it is still running, there is no need to replace it. However, he did have one suggestion for me - he recommended that I get a couple carbon monoxide detectors. Scott told me that furnaces are fairly easy to repair and in most cases, unless the parts are no longer available, they can be fixed. However, there is one problem that will shut the furnace down and require immediate replacement: a problem with the heat exchange, because that is when you can get carbon monoxide gas leaks! He strongly recommended that I get a carbon monoxide detector for the basement and one for near the bedroom. Scott said he recommends them for everyone, but since I do have an older unit, I definitely should have them.
After thinking about it for a day, I decided he was right, so, I put on my frugal shopper hat. I am rather impressed with how I was able to leverage this purchase and get a really good deal:
First I did some reading up on the different types of units. This site had this to say:
You can choose a model that is wired to your home's electrical system, a model which plugs into a standard electrical outlet, or a battery-operated model. Battery-operated carbon monoxide detectors continue to protect even in the event of a power outage. Hardwired AC models, although more costly and difficult to install, reduce the expense of battery replacement but do not offer protection during power outages. Hardwired AC models with battery back-up offer double protection.Then I went and looked at some different kinds of dectectors. I decided to go with a battery operated unit as (by my request) my mother bought me a very nice rechargeable battery set for Christmas. I figure that way I don't have the electrical expense and it will work through a power outage. Scott mentioned to me that current detectors have about a seven year lifespan, so it is a good idea to jot the date you install it on the back in Sharpie. (Dontcha love Sharpie?)
Then I did some perusal on different brands, makes and models. Once I settled on one that had the right combination of features and price, I then went hunting for deals. I found that a local hardware store carries them on their website, so then I went to ebates and upromise.com to see what deals I could get there. It turned out that ebates offered quite a bit more, so I shopped through their site. After adding the detectors to my shopping cart, I then stopped over to retailmenot.com where I picked up a coupon code for free shipping if I had it sent to one of their stores. It also just so happens, that I have a frequent shopper card to this store sooooo... I used that too! Heh, the only way it would have been better was if they had been on sale too! As it is, I'll be milking this purchase out for all it is worth!
If you don't have carbon monoxide detectors in your home, here are some good articles I found on the subject:
Iowa State University - What You Need to Know About the Leading Cause of Poisoning Deaths in America
InspectAPedia - A Guide to Furnace Heat Exchanger Leaks
About.com - Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Indoor Health Advisor (also where the graphics came from) - Carbon Monoxide, The Silent Killer