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Disaster Averted

This is a discussion on Disaster Averted within the Orchid Ailments / The Compost Pile forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; So, I must share some of my panic with people who will actually understand . ...

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  1. #1
    sadie's Avatar
    sadie is offline Senior Member
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    Default Disaster Averted

    So, I must share some of my panic with people who will actually understand . . . so thanks for reading.

    This morning at 1 a.m., my son woke up crying. When I got out of bed, I realized my room was FREEZING--the thermostat said 47 degrees. Since my husband was also awake at this point, he ran up and took care of our son and I ran to the greenhouse. (Okay, that makes me sound like a bad mom, but it wasn't like I'd left him to cry, he was taken care of.) The greenhouse was down to 39-40 degrees!

    Our furnace had quit for as-yet unexplained reasons. Bear in mind my house is just over a year old--and so this is a brand new furnace. Oh, and this is the second time in a month that it has broken!

    So I panicked, got a couple of space heaters and a warm mist humidifier to try and raise the temperature. (This of course meant that I didn't get a spaceheater in my bedroom, but sacrifices must be made. And I did keep the kids warm too--so I'm not that bad a mom am I?) I'm still sort of panicked--if my son hadn't woken up, I probably wouldn't have checked the greenhouse until morning when I would have had racks of frozen orchids!

    The repairman is supposed to come today--sometime between now and midnight (sheesh!), and I want to say to him fix this problem or next time you are going to have to replace an orchid collection! Aaaaaaaah!

    I've checked everything out, and so far there is only two plants with the tell-tale leaf damage. Hopefully they just had a bit of water on them and the rest are fine.

    So thanks for listening, I know you understand.
    Last edited by sadie; January 16th, 2009 at 12:21 PM.

  2. #2
    pavel's Avatar
    pavel is offline change is the only constant
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    Definitely not a fun time! Well since hubby was looking after one baby, you simply went to check on the others.

    If you had anything in bud, definitely a strong chance they will blast, I expect. I don't know that I'd use a warm mist humidifier right away. IME, tropical plants in general seem to be able to handle cool-cold and dry better than cool/cold & moist

    Hope they all come through!

  3. #3
    Brutal_Dreamer's Avatar
    Brutal_Dreamer is offline Dreaming with my eyes open...
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    Oh Wow, I am so sorry. That is terrible. Be sure to check the plants closest to the windows (sides) of the GH. They are the ones that will have gotten the worst of the temp drop. If this was only for a few hours, I bet you will not find much damage at all. Orchids are pretty resilient for the most part. Glad your son made some noise!

    Cheers,
    BD

  4. #4
    JoeW's Avatar
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    Did the pilot light go out? Did the furnace blower keep blowing (unheated air), trying to respond to the thermostat? If so, it is very likely the thermocouple and that is easy to replace. The burning pilot light keeps the thermocouple hot which keeps the gas on. A safety measure, a cold thermocouple tip shuts off the gas to the pilot light and the burners.

  5. #5
    smartie2000's Avatar
    smartie2000 is offline Senior Member
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    I sure hope your orchids will be fine! Take care

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeW View Post
    Did the pilot light go out? Did the furnace blower keep blowing (unheated air), trying to respond to the thermostat? If so, it is very likely the thermocouple and that is easy to replace. The burning pilot light keeps the thermocouple hot which keeps the gas on. A safety measure, a cold thermocouple tip shuts off the gas to the pilot light and the burners.
    Sounds like we have a furnaceman in the house!!

    I hope all your plants will be okay - thank goodness for your son!! 47 degrees, that is crazy!! I think that would've woken me up for sure, I'm a pretty light sleeper. To look on the bright side, a little leaf damage isn't such a bad thing sometimes...I've noticed that when I damage a leaf or something like that, it usually encourages the plant to regenerate more growth and quicker too, so that might be a positive outcome of your catastrophe

  7. #7
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    39-40 is probably fine for most everything you grow with the exception of the Vandas. I really think your collection will be fine....

  8. #8
    Orchidzrule's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sadie View Post
    (This of course meant that I didn't get a spaceheater in my bedroom, but sacrifices must be made. And I did keep the kids warm too--so I'm not that bad a mom am I?) I'm still sort of panicked--if my son hadn't woken up, I probably wouldn't have checked the greenhouse until morning when I would have had racks of frozen orchids!
    Sacrifices definitely must be made! And, no, you don't sound like a bad mom at all. I think you are extremely fortunate your son woke you up.

    I know exactly how you feel. I once had my furnace fail when I was away. I mostly grow in my basement and all the orchids down there came through just fine. I lost a few that were upstairs--a couple of blooming plants on display, plus a few seedlings I'd brought upstairs to make it easier for the house-sitter to water them. (I figured the other plants would get by without watering, since I let them go pretty much that long between watering, anyhow.) The house sitter did discover the problem, but not in time to save all the plants. The happiest accident of the downstairs plants was a miltassia in spike. The buds almost certainly would have blasted except it was right near the lights and they must have kept the buds warm. The leaf tips, all lower down and away from the light, all got browned, but the buds opened normally not too long after I got home.

    I was still devastated by what had died upstairs, but it could have been SO much worse. I will wish you a non-malfunctioning furnace from now on!

    Cheers,
    Rob

  9. #9
    sadie's Avatar
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    Default

    Thanks all. It looks like the damage will be minimal. The open flowers on my Angrcm Veitchii blasted and it looks like I'll also loose some of the buds that were just about to open on some phals, but so far at least there's no leaf damage. Whew! It looks like it will be okay.

    Oh, and JoeW--the furnace problem was a bit ridiculous. When we built our house, we got a high efficiency 90% variable speed furnace. (Don't ask for more detail than that--that is literally all I know, but my husband is all about the environmental initiatives and I like that our heating bills are less than the GDP of small countries.) Anyway, when the company installed it, they didn't insulate the condensation drip well enough and the exhaust pipe was configured wrong. So, when it got down in the single digits last night, the condensation line and exhaust lines both got blocked by ice. Yeah, the furnace is so efficient it doesn't burn up that little bit of condensation. So, two guys were up there most of the afternoon redoing everything. ANYWAY---it worked last nigth so hopefully that is the last chapter of the furnace saga.

  10. #10
    JoeW's Avatar
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    Sadie, thanks for letting me know what it what going on. That's the problem with new technology. In this instance, the 'tin bangers' needed to be 'technicians'. I admit, we are a little slow in specifing state of the art components, but it is for that reason. Joe

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