Part 2 of the Shover Robot Saga
After many calls to my father-in-law, I am now a certified Master Electrician. I’m also a certified Master Air Conditioner Repair technician. Siege is now also certified in these departments. So when I left you at the end of the last column, my air conditioner was not turning on and my microwave was out. It works fine, it just has that extra feature now that my red-haired wife found to be pretty shocking. Our new status here is this: my microwave is still out, my water heater is out, but my air conditioner is blowing cold mountain air, fresh from the Rockies.
I won’t go into details about how we got to that status, but – wait. Who am I kidding? Of course I will. That’s what I do here. I called an air conditioner company here in SpaceTown, and the dude told me I had either blown a fuse or a transformer on the air handler. I know how much a fuse is. But how much does a transformer cost? And I don’t mean one of the gay autobot types, but rather a Decepticon, like Megatron, Shockwave or Thundercracker. “Well we charge about 200 bucks for it.” Whew! You guys are proud of them puppies! I wasn’t happy about that, but I was determined to find out what was wrong myself. And not pay someone else to come out here and fix this shit for me. I like to be handy, you know. Just ask my red-haired wife how handy I get under the covers. Oh wait. That’s handsy…
So when AC Bob called back he said I had either blown a fuse or a transformer. Well, great, I thought. That’s confirmation. But he said a transformer was a twelve-dollar part. Not two hundred. And since this damn thing went out on Saturday, this dude’s trip fee would be a hundred. Plus labor, plus parts. F all that noise. AC Bob said it was a cheap part and I could pick one up myself and install it pretty easily. Well I took the panel off the front of the air handler, threw the two breakers in there, and decided it was the transformer. And since Siege knows a helluva lot more about transformers than I do, I called him to come help me. Let me ask you to click this here link just to give you an example of his knowledge. See, he drew a little schematic on the inside of the door to remind him how to hook the wires back up when we put a new transformer in. Click here to see it. Note the tiny pencil drawing of the Decepticons logo there? Yeah. He knows what he’s doing when it comes to troubleshooting transformers.
Well, to keep a long story appropriately long, Siege and I cracked open some Cold Ones and got to work. Keep in mind, it was like 90 in there just ambient. The work lights we were using to brighten up the closet were making it like 115. Serious. They’re like heat lamps. So we’re sweating like a hookers in church. So was the beer. Anyway, we started poking around with the Fluke. And there was no current coming through the transformer. Red flag number one: there was no current on the high-voltage side of it either. A transformer in this case, reduces the voltage from 240 volts to 24 volts. Here’s where we should have said, “Well it’s not the transformer, because there’s no current on the high voltage side.” Well, we must have been too hot, we weren’t thinking right or whatever, so we just assumed it was bad when there was no current on the low side. Well duh, if there’s no current on the input, how can you expect to get anything out? Sigh.
Well we yanked it out of there and ran up to the Home Depot, which really let me down. I called Captain McRight and he said he knew a guy who sold those things off the back of a truck. It would be Monday, though before he could get one. So Siege and I got to work sectioning off part of the house. We took the most insulated material I have, sleeping bags, and hung them across the hall breaking it down to just Laynie’s room and the master bedroom, then grabbed the window unit I keep in the SpaceBar for such occasions, and put it in Laynie’s window. So at least that part of the house started cooling off pretty quickly. The rest was like a sauna though.
Now it’s Monday, 28 June
Siege and I got the fifteen-dollar transformer, wired it in, and turned that bitch on. Nothing. Well just short of ripping it out of the closet and throwing it through the window, I was a little mad at this air handler. It has one job to do in this life: handle frakin’ air. And it wasn’t doing a very good job of it. But we didn’t give up. We finally got the bright idea to test the socket. There are two each 220-volt sockets in there. The air handler plugs into both of those. One was live, one was dead. So after work I went back to the breaker box, removed the panel, and started probing the wires. That breaker was bad. I moved the hot wire from the bad breaker to the post on another, probed it, good to go, 240 volts. Finally. Getting somewhere! Plugged in the air handler, threw the local breakers there, turned on the thermostat, and… Nothing! I probed the socket again. Still dead!
So basically what we’re dealing with here is a bad breaker and a bad receptacle. So for now, I unplugged my water heater and plugged the air handler into that socket. Fired right the hell up. Ahh, it’s getting cooler in here by the minute. But there’s your red flag number two: why didn’t I just unplug the water heater at lunch today when Siege and I had come home to install the transformer? We discovered the socket wasn’t getting power at that time. I should have just said F the water heater and gotten the air going again! It would have been cool in here by the time I got home from work. Meh. Anyway, it’s working now, I just have to troubleshoot the bad socket. Because ultimately I don’t want to have to choose between cold air and hot water. But I learned a lot in these last three days, got my master certification in it, and now feel confident that the next thing that goes wrong in this house is gonna just plain get its ass kicked.