Oil Out!

Ridgewater breaking concrete
Ridgewater breaking concrete

[UPDATE MARCH 2016: since this post was written, Leanne and I have entered into a contract dispute with Ridgewater Homes. For more details, click here.]

I’m way behind in my posts. The deconstruction of the Hammond Forever House basement is moving so fast, I can’t keep up. Huge events fly by.

Case in point, the removal of the furnace and oil tank!

Read about how we challenged ourselves not to use the furnace last year to avoid buying more fuel oil here.

Read about the greenhouse gasses we didn’t create as a result here.

Read about the money we saved here.

Read about how even though we survived by burning free wood in our wood-burning insert, burning wood is not a sustainable option to heat a home here.

Finally, read my tongue-in-cheek advertisement to sell the furnace and tank here.

When I started looking for a home for these outdated heating apparatus, I asked for $50 000 to buy them. I know it’s a ridiculous price. I was trying to make the point that our efforts to reduce our carbon footprint and water use are worth supporting and, since our natural sources of support, the Provincial and Federal Government (both of which will benefit from fighting climate change), are asleep at the switch, perhaps a private donor would step forward.

Surprisingly, none did. Shocking.

As time went by and the guy who sold us the tank and the company who serviced the furnace both wouldn’t return my calls, I dropped the asking price to $500. Did the phone start ringing?


The day before Chuck from Ridgewater Homes showed up with a jack hammer to start making holes in the basement concrete slab, I finally made a deal.


Paid by cheque.

Paid by me to Shane from Northside Petroleum.

It was an entirely predictable result. Who the hell wants an oil furnace? Maybe somebody in the mountains or on Vancouver Island where there are no natural gas lines. Nobody around here.

We removed a window to get the hose in and drain the tank
We removed a window to get the hose in and drain the tank

Shane explained that the tank was not resaleable even though it is only 5 years old, because of liability. Insurance companies won’t cover you if you install a used tank, even if it’s a week old.

He showed up with another strong guy, another tank on their trailer that they had removed from somewhere else, and a pump truck. The $500 paid for the renting of the pump truck and for Shane’s friend’s time. Shane seemed to be working pro bono. I didn’t barter. After three months looking for other options, there were none.

Yes, it was gone from the corner where it or a tank like it had sat for 60 or 70 years, but it was not out of the basement, yet.DSCN3068

The guy I bought the tank from in 2010 showed up with it in his pick-up truck. No help, just him and me. I heard he threw his back out while we struggled to get the thing inside.

This time we had Shane, his co-worker, Dave my father-in-law, and me. It was still a nasty business.

Since the tank can’t be resold, it will be recycled.
I remember checking on the kids for a few minutes after the tank was gone and, by the time I returned, the oil tank was getting wheeled away.

There it goes!
There it goes!

Here is a photo of a true carbon footprint–the spot where the furnace sat. And what was that combustible newspaper doing under it? Wait, is that a Historical Artifact?


It dates all the way back to 2002!

“So James”, many people ask, “what are you going to replace the oil furnace with?”

My answer is still vague, I’m afraid.

In an ideal world, we would be able to calculate exactly how much heating, cooling and air circulation each room in the house will need and design a system accordingly. In the real world, we will have to wait and see the result of all the insulation and sealing we do in the next few months. Then we can install the smallest, most efficient system that will meet all our needs.

I can tell you one thing, however, it’s going to be electric. No oil. No gas. No wood. That means a heat pump of some kind. I’ve had enough of fossil fuels and interim solutions. If our house is electric, we can get that electricity from all kinds of sources including BC Hydro and its hydro-electric power and solar photo-voltaic panels.

As they say at the Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association (VEVA), the future is electric.

Published by

James Rowley

James lives in Maple Ridge, BC, Canada with his amazing partner, Leanne Koehn, and their two amazing kids in their beautiful house. He studied Science and English Literature at the University of British Columbia where he met Leanne. He also studied acting for a while at Studio 58 in Vancouver. He works as a teacher of English and curriculum writer for new Canadians.

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