March 19, 2007

Click click. Click click click click click.

There are few things as maddening as a confusing problem in the middle of the night. Periodically, maybe every four to six months, our thermostat does this: "Click click. *pause* Click click click. *pause* Click click click click click click click click click click click click. *pause* Click click click click click click click click click click click. *pause* Click click click click click click click click click click click click click click click click click click click click"--where each click is, individually, the sound the thermostat normally makes when it cues the furnace to come on or shut off. Meanwhile, the poor furnace is attempting to comply with the thermostat by swoofing on and then almost immediately turning off, and then swoofing on again, and then turning off.

Why is the thermostat doing this to us? Our loose working theory is that it happens when the batteries get low. We have to believe this or we will go mad, because clearly the actual explanation is that the thermostat is messing with us. This clicking thing only happens in the middle of the night, never in the day. Also, the thermostat has a "low battery" warning message, and we have seen that before, but it is not on before or during this clicking problem. Nevertheless, when it is 2:00 in the morning and the clicking and the swoofing are happening, I always change the batteries. Then I lie wide awake in the darkness, waiting for the clicking and the swoofing to continue or to stop.

Here is what that wily thermostat does then: it continues to click and it continues to make the furnace swoof, but it does it much less often. So then I think, "Well, I did just get those batteries out of the unheated basement. Don't batteries work less well if they're cold? Maybe they just need to warm up. It's not clicking as much. I'll just wait and see." I think this way not because I am a woman of extraordinary patience who can take a "wait and see" attitude even at 2:00 in the morning, but because I am out of ideas. Changing the batteries is all I've got.

These are the times when I could seriously kick Paul out into the dark, monster-ridden night. Why is he sleeping through it? When I change the batteries, I have to go creaking down the stairs, and creaking back up. I have to turn on the hall lights. I don't technically have to open our bedroom door wide to let the light wash over him while I do it, but I do--just to include him in my life. He snores on. I suspect that if a serial killer came into our house and made one single giveaway clicking sound, Paul would not awaken, leap from bed in fighting stance, and save the day. No, it would be me, leaping out of bed with fresh batteries already in hand.

12 comments:

Black Sheeped said...

Ugh. Last night a dog was barking outside all night. I waited an hour, worrying, before I got up to make sure our dog was sleeping safely on the couch.

Sorry about the clicking.

SuburbanOblivion said...

For the safety of your family, I seriously hope you are using D batteries for protection! Those AA's aren't so good for beating off ax murderers.

coffee stained said...

Could your thermostat be oversensitive? What it seems like to me, and I could be totally wrong here, is if you turn your thermostat down at night, there is a certain time (2 am) at which the temperature in your house drops to the point where your thermostat would cause your furnace to kick on. Then when the thermostat goes above that kick on temperature it shuts off, hence the constant click click click? I know on ours, there is a range where I can turn it down so that the heat will kick off, then turn up the thermostat temperature and the heat won't kick back on until the temperature drops another 5 degrees. If there weren't that 5 degree range, the thing would be clicking on and off all the time, and would do so mostly at night b/c there isn't any heat from the sun coming in the windows. Does that make sense? Sorry for the ramble. I hope you figure out what the problem is! There's nothing worse than lying awake listening to some annoying noise over which you have no control.

nonsoccermom said...

Oh, ugh. I hate repetitive noises like that, it would drive me insane. And why does stuff like that only happen in the middle of the night?

Jennifer said...

You haven't been reading Poe's, The Tell-Tale Heart have you?!

Amazing what husbands can sleep through...

jen said...

it's conspiring against you. Just like my smoke alarm batteries always die in the middle of the night. And just as the ruckus is settled, the batteries are in (or the detector is wrapped in a towel in a remote corner of the basement) then its brothers and sisters start protesting as well. And since this is a newish house, there are 5 of them upstairs alone. My faaaavorite thing to do is stand in the hallway and try to figure out WHICH ONE based on an intermittent chirp that is so high pitched it could be coming from any one of them.

Mommy Daisy said...

I don't know what's more annoying 1) the awful noises at night that you can't firgure out or 2) the husband who is blissfully snoring through the entire event!

desperate housewife said...

Oh man, night noises. How I love them. How I love, for instance, the disturbing little swish swish sound that the DVD player likes to make in the middle of the night when I have forgotten to turn the power off. I never hear it, of course, until I am nearly or completely asleep and incoherent enough to have forgotten the source of the weird noise. I always lay there for about five minutes, squinty-eyed and in panic alert mode, trying to pinpoint the source of the noise. Before I remember that it is the same thing it is every single night!

Devan said...

How annoying. Our TV makes a very loud settling noise, only in the middle of the night and only when I'm *almost* asleep. Scares me everytime. Then there's the random beep. It's only once every couple of months, but I'll hear a beep. Beep. Nothing. Beep. Nothing. Nothing. Beep.
Not a smoke detector. NO appliance we can find. It's maddening.

I think your thermostat is messing with you.

Erin said...

Hey, batteries is a good guess. Ours behaves badly on low juice too. But another couple in my family just had to replace their thermostat because of poor communication between it & the furnace. It sounds so simple! Pop it off the wall and stick another one on, right? I'm sorry to say it turned out to be a rather expensive deal.

Maybe couples counseling for the thermostat & the furnace?

Kelsey said...

Before I got married I lived in an apartment with a friend of mine. Our phone number must have been close to some fax number because we would get these calls, 98% of them coming in the middle of the night, and when we picked up the phone there was just an obnoxious, drawn-out, beeeeeeeeep. It happened so often that one of us could ask the other, "Did you answer the phone last night?" and said other could reply, "It was just the beep."

So annoying!

Now the automated substitute teaching service sometimes calls me at 5:00 in the morning (which is two to three full hours before Harper wakes up) and asks if I want to work that day. I hang up on that service a lot!

Omaha Mama said...

Just the clicking is enough to drive a person nuts. The trailer house I lived in in college (yes, a trailer - I shared with a friend for $80 a month) had a vent below my bed that would click, click, clich whenever the furnace ran at all. I would jump on the floor, take the vent cover off and rattle a screwdriver around in the pipes, nothing worked. Click, click, click. No fun, no fun at all.

My hubby would sleep through ANYTHING! So irritating, especially when everything wakes me up.

Thanks for the laugh anyway - hope the batteries have solved the click.