McElroys win ‘Furnacesaurus’ contest |

McElroys win ‘Furnacesaurus’ contest

Tonya Bina

Therese McElroy stands alongside Grand Lake Plumbing and Heating Service Manager Chris Wood in front of her mammoth furnace in the basement of her two story home near Kremmling. For having what might be the oldest furnace in Grand County — or "Furnacesaurus" — McElroy has won a new modern-efficient furnace from Grand Lake Plumbing. Courtesy photo

The granddaughter of a homesteader didn’t know it, but her home’s furnace is nearly as old as the Town of Kremmling itself.

In the Grand Lake Plumbing and Heating contest seeking the county’s oldest furnace – or “Furnacesaurus”- Therese McElroy’s 113 year-old relic was the hands-down winner, according to Marketing Manager Lindsey Morrow of Grand Lake Plumbing.

The house used as the McElroy’s ranch home since 1945 was originally built in 1882, and the Western Oiled Gas Fire Furnace in the basement was installed just before the turn of the century.

Originally a diesel-oiled gas furnace, it eventually was converted to coal. Then in the late 1960s, when McElroy’s parents converted the furnace to natural gas, Xcel Energy awarded the McElroys for being the 1,000th customer of natural gas to the area.

Their gas meter was painted gold, and Xcel gave them a gas grill and threw a banquet in their honor. Soon, a gazebo was built on the property to accommodate the new grill, Teresa recalled.

The “enormous” family furnace has been a trusty workhorse ever since, sputtering out heat in the two story home just outside of Kremmling with a surprising 81 percent efficiency.

“Just by looking at it, I knew it was old,” McElroy said.

But there are only two vents in her childhood home, one in the downstairs bathroom and one in the living room. An old cook stove in the kitchen and a wood stove in the living room help supplement heat during winters.

“It doesn’t warm the house very well,” McElroy said.

For wining the contest, the McElroy home has been awarded a new energy-efficient furnace. A retired school nurse who ran her home as a bed and breakfast for 10 years, Teresa said she looks forward to adding new ducts and vents to heat upstairs bedrooms and the kitchen. But since she can’t afford installation of the new furnace, Xcel rebate programs and money through Recharge Colorado is being tapped to help pay, said Morrow.

The “Furnacesaurus” contest took place during the month of March with 19 entries and furnaces ranging in age from 6 to 113 years.

Technicians were sent out to entrants’ homes to gather information about the furnaces such as serial numbers, which were verified with manufacturers to confirm proper ages. The contest took place in both Routt and Grand counties.

“We figured so many people in this area have inefficient heating systems, and with the cold temperatures, we wanted to be able to give back to the community,” Morrow said.

And the next contest planned through Grand Lake Plumbing?

“Ugliest heating system,” Morrow said.

Although details of the contest are still being worked out, this next contest is planned for October and November – just in time for Father Winter.

– Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext.19603