The building inspector burst out laughing when he saw the furnace. It was an octopus gravity fed furnace, and appeared to be original to the house. Notes were written on the side from December, 1960, which is when I suppose that it was converted from coal to gas.
The seller supplied the previous year’s bills, so I could get a better idea of the potential expenses. Long after moving in, various neighbours told me that no one had lived in the house for years, and that the owner would come back periodically to pick up the mail. It was only when he was getting ready to sell that he was around more frequently.
I lived in an old row house 20 years ago, where each unit had one of these furnaces. We paid close to $ 400.00 per month in gas, during the coldest months. The utilities did seem suspiciously low…
Maybe I could squeak through the approaching winter with this furnace, and there was some sort of retrofit that could increase the efficiency ? Several furnace places came by for quotes, and none would even light the pilot light, which was just an open flame with no safety controls whatsoever. I pointed at the cast iron door, which had the word “MODERN” in large letters, but none were convinced.
I had to spring for a new furnace. I chose the furnace dude who seemed the least appalled by the house and location.