At the end of the fall season, when I first started up the furnace, I knew there was a problem. The heating system made some strange sounds whenever it cycled on, and there was a burning smell coming from the vents. I also noticed a significant amount of airborne dust circulating around the house. I hoped that this was simply the result of dust burning off the components as they heated up. At that point, my life was especially hectic, and I simply didn’t have the time to schedule furnace maintenance. Unfortunately, the performance of the furnace worsened, and by the middle of December I finally called for repair. With the holidays and the especially cold weather, all of the local HVAC contractors were overrun with business. The earliest available appointment was right after the new year. My furnace managed to operate for another three weeks. It quit in the middle of the night, when the outside temperature was down to forty degrees. Unwilling to pay overtime charges for emergency service, I convinced my family that we could survive eight days without a working furnace. We closed off most of the rooms of the house and limited ourselves to the kitchen, living room and bathroom. We dragged our bedding into the living room and set up a space heater in each room. I tried to make it an adventure for the kids, but we were all miserable. When the HVAC contractor finally arrived to complete the repair, he informed me that he’d need to order some parts. We then were forced to live without the furnace for another four days.