This morning it was cold when I got up. I turned up the thermostat and nothing happened, so I got a hammer and climbed up into our attic. Using my phone’s light to see, I stepped over HVAC ductwork and under beams to get to the furnace’s panel. I turned off the power and then I hit the furnace a couple times with the hammer. I flipped it back on and waited, crouching in the freezing dark. It cycled up, the pilot flame lit, and then after a moment the gas fired and the furnace started to heat our house.

This morning started the same as four of my last seven days.

I installed the furnace a couple of years ago. I read a Mr. Money Mustache blog where he replaced a furnace in around a day. It took me around three and a half months working weekends to learn HVAC and put it in.

The first winter after I installed it, it wouldn’t fire up whenever it got really cold. I thought I must have messed something up and hired a professional to look at it. Their professional assessment was to hit a certain part with a hammer when it wouldn’t light.

I’m 85% sure the problem is that there’s a valve or switch that isn’t machined correctly and gets stuck when the cold causes the metal to contract. I would hire a HVAC company to replace the part, but I don’t have much confidence in the blue collar workers here in Portland. That’s a big part of the reason I decided to put it in myself.

Similarly, a year ago I hired a PPC company to scale the leads we were getting through a successful adwords campaign that I created. A year later, after much trial and error, the result has been that they scaled the cost and eliminated the leads.

Having several terrible experiences working with home contractors caused me to spend a tremendous amount of time installing a furnace. It would be easy to do the same with PPC agencies and say, “if you want it done right, you have to do it yourself.”

The problem is that you can’t scale a business by yourself. That belief is a hard road that dead ends.

Another way to look at it is that I made an error(s) in selecting a PPC partner, setting objectives for them, or holding them accountable and that’s how we ended up with poor results.

The benefit of this belief over the former is that I won’t be continually crawling into the attic to hit something with a hammer when things aren’t working.

Featured image is a Franklin stove. It was invented by Benjamin Franklin to replace an open fireplace and produce more heat and less smoke. Used under public domain.