Cool with it
The record heat in Portland made for an interesting day around our house. A potted plant that had been digging the full sun on the back porch for months suddenly decided that he couldn't take it. Even some of the light bulbs starting giving out -- one on the front porch, another on the attic ceiling.
I had been planning to go for a short run sometime today, and I didn't manage to get out there until shortly after noon, at which time the mercury was over 90 degrees and rising fast. I muddled through at a relative snail's pace, even walking for a bit toward the end, but the extreme deed was done.
Meanwhile, our house's central air threw us a curve ball. I fired it up just before noon -- or I should say, tried to -- knowing that by the end of the day, it would become a most welcome service. It was the inaugural run of the system for the summer, and there's always a little apprehension at that juncture about whether it's going to work.
The thermostat did what it was supposed to do, and the fan in the furnace unit did what it was supposed to do, but although I thought I heard the compressor out in the yard kick on, when I looked at it out the window from above, I could see that its fan wasn't turning. The air coming out of the ducts in the house was just... well, room temp.
So I called our heat and AC guy. I'm always calling him at the worst possible times. New Year's Eve 4 p.m., for example. So again here -- the day it hits 102, Bogdanski's on the phone. Unfortunately for him, we have his cell number, and I caught him at a job site. He and I both knew that a visit by him to our house today, or even tomorrow, would be a monumental pain for him, if it was even feasible at all. But we chatted amiably for a few minutes, ignoring that reality.
After a few probing questions, he suggested that the problem might be the fuses in the cutoff box on the side of the house out by the compressor unit. He sent me out there to find them.
Now, you have to understand, I attended a Jesuit boys' school, and not a very wealthy one at that, followed by a college curriculum of Latin and Greek and three years of law school. For me to get near anything like an electrical fuse on a high-voltage circuit is a big deal. But I knew that it was face it or sweat all night, and so off I boldly went. First I turned off the AC circuit breaker in the main electrical box of the house, just to be sure. Then I stepped out into the heat and opened the cutoff box. At my guy's telephone direction, I located and yanked out the additional circuit-breaking thingie in there. It had "Danger" written on it, with a lightning bolt and all, and the words "on" and "off," one of them printed upside down. I thought about closing my eyes as I pulled it out, but I was brave enough to keep them open.
It took me another minute or so to figure out how to lift the little cover over the fuses, but when I did, there they were -- two things that looked to my eye like shotgun shells. Pursuant to my guy's continuing instructions, I then pulled one of them out with a pair of pliers (I think I did hold my breath during that part) and headed off with it to the local hardware store for a replacement. I was still very foul and dripping sweat from my run at this point, but hey, it's a hardware store.
The young guy who waited on me there was careful to make sure he had identified the correct amperage (is there such a word?), which turned out to be 40. He sold me two new fuses, and at my request he even tested the old one that I had brought in. He verified that indeed, it was bad. Good news! Bad fuse! I might have cool air tonight after all. Thirteen bucks for the pair -- debit, please.
Back at the love shack, I pulled out the other old fuse, popped both the new ones in, put the "Danger" thingie back in place, ran back into the house, flipped the circuit breaker in the big box inside back to "on," and re-approached the thermostat.
I switched it to "Cool," just as I had a little while earlier. The fan in the furnace came on once again. Now for the moment of truth: Over to the window to check out the compressor...
The fan was turning. Glory be.
Within seconds, wonderfully chilled air began pouring from the ducts throughout the house. I called back our climate control guy with the good news.
It was a bear of a day, and the thing's been cranking all afternoon and evening without pause. The place is comfortable. Just as good, I did something vaguely mechanical, or even vaguely electrical, today, and I succeeded. It happens once in a while. Life is cool.