That sounds positively steampunk, doesn’t it? Only it is the part that seems to have gone south on my HVAC. Instead of an installation team, which I was expecting this morning, I got two mooks at my door with a clipboard full of literature and an offer I could not refuse. Well, you have to have heating and cooling, and just about anything else I might have done to fix the limping system would have cost more. Apparently the manufacturer had just in the past month put all its dealers on alert that this model of compressor has been going tits-up all across this great land of ours, and probably to keep from getting sued they have been underwriting an upgrade to a compressor of a different design, something a warranty will not usually get you.
I seized a mobile phone and called the Cute Engineer, not because he is a man or anything, but because he is in the heat transfer line and actually works for a concern that manages large commercial energy retrofits. If he were trying to decide whether to let some knife happy doctor at a painful knee or shoulder I would want him to call me. “What’s the difference between a reciprocating compressor and a scroll compressor?” I asked. “Whaflybpdarp?” he said, or something like it. He ought to be used to calls from me beginning with questions like this but I probably caught him in the middle of an exciting spread sheet.
His bottom line was “go for it.” The difference, if you care, is that the compressor I have engages its parts in a back and forth motion to get the job done (forcing refrigerant through coils) and the scroll mechanism is unidirectional. You can see how there would be less wear.
The older guy, who was the same one that came out the first time when the thermostat started sending me rude messages, went out in just below freezing temperatures to log a lot of readings off the compressor mechanism. The younger one, who turned out to be his supervisor, stayed inside in the warm and began to array documents in front of me. After a while he went to get some kind of data off the thermostat, which was still obscured by its latest and greatest error message, which has been telling me for a week that the power was not connected to the no-longer-functioning outside unit. Duh.
random image of steampunk machinery stolen from the Interwebs
Supervisor Guy threw up the window (I caught a small green glass pitcher off the sill barely in time) and called out “Hey Junior!”
“Uncouple the green frammis.”
Junior, who had previously told me by phone that I couldn’t get rid of the recurring error message without “a lot of fooling around on the outside unit,” uncoupled the green frammis. I guess they do not trust the customer with much of anything, even green frammises. The thermostat went back to its normal role of telling me what the settings are and what time it is. Have you noticed that everything you own now tells you what time it is? It’s amazing that anyone is ever late.
I let them cut my credit card for a ridiculous amount (some parts and the labor aren’t covered in the warranty) and made a date for Monday to fix this thing for keeps. I have been running gas heat only since last Saturday and the inside of my head feels like crisp bacon. I can’t wait.
Posted in Life is Dumb | Tagged Bristol compressor, electrical connections, HVAC repairs, teamwork, warranties | 10 Comments »
I really wish it had been the earwig. It would have been a lot cheaper.
About six years ago I got this hybrid heating system which runs a heat pump (essentially the air conditioner, only running in reverse) until it gets down to near freezing and then kicks in the gas heat. I had to get something because the old system was beginning to make a noise like sneakers in a dryer and the heat exchanger was a month away from the death of its twenty year warranty. I thought it was the balls, especially the intelligent thermostat that you can program to turn up the heat before you get out of bed. It also sends you little billets-douces like “seasonal service recommended at this time” and “change the filter you feckless idiot,” which pop up on an iPhone-sized screen. When the serviceman calls to check the pressures and install new hamsters he can read the system’s entire memoirs off this thing.
If something goes amiss, a broad dark band appears on the screen telling you to call a technician. This can be a problem because while the system coughs up a numerical code for whatever has gone wrong, the information can be opaque even to a person with a handyman streak. This one informed me that my system was registering ERROR CODE 82. This is not really helpful in itself as it is unclear whether it means 82 YOUR CAT HAS UNPLUGGED THE ONBOARD HUMIDIFIER or 82 YOUR SYSTEM WILL BLOW UP IN TWELVE MINUTES TAKING YOUR HOUSE WITH IT. Eventually I pushed some controls and discerned that Code 82 meant “thermal lockout.”
By the time the guy arrived from my heating contractor I had learned from my friend the Internet that this meant the compressor was overheating. It appeared to be something that happens in the cooling season when it’s over a hundred or so degrees out. I left the repairman to it.
He communed with the system for three hours.
Early in the proceedings it looked as if we were onto something when he uncoupled the 230 volt contact to the outside unit and a dead earwig fell out. Earwigs are disgusting, chitinous, creepy things that belong in a Lovecraft story or an early episode of Star Trek when they were doing monsters on the cheap. So far as I can tell they have no function in Nature other than to crawl into things and die. Unfortunately the readings from the system continued to be haywire, registering low pressure, high pressure, and pretty much every other code in the program.
It looks like I am going to have to get a new compressor. The part is under warranty but the labor isn’t. I would be suspicious if the repair guy, whose company is not getting one penny for the diagnostic call because I have a contract, didn’t spend nearly two additional hours going over refit options. Agatha Voleslayer batted at his pen while he wrote a small novella on the call report, tore off my copy and left me to muse over slightly alarming labor rates.
He said he was sorry it wasn’t the earwig too. “Lotsa little critters crawl into compressors,” he said. “Snakes, that’s really bad. They start climbing back up the driveshaft and get to the blades just when the unit cuts on. It ain’t pretty. I seen some things.”
He left the power off to the outside compressor unit so the heat pump wouldn’t keep trying to cut on and I would have 24-hour gas heat till the new compressor comes in. Now my eyes feel like sandpaper, the cats are hugging the vents as the rich blasts of hot air billow out in every heating cycle, and I keep getting an error message — strangely, without a numerical code — that says “230V TO HEAT PUMP DISCONNECTED.” Nice to know.
Posted in Life is Dumb | Tagged Carrier Infinity system, computerization of everything, household maintenance, HVAC, service calls, warranties | 9 Comments »
Glasses: check, dowdy wardrobe: check, prone to literary effusion: check, tendency to forget things — well, I’m always leaving my watch somewhere. But according to this quiz, I am
I mean, I don’t even have a family. But my late and ex always wanted me to have a shot at the role of Lady Bracknell (he was a perennial Canon Chasuble). I suppose it was the forceful part.
The formidable Judi Dench in my favorite Bracknell moment:
(Go on, do the quiz. You know you want to.)
Posted in Reading Matter | Tagged personality quizzes, Shakespeare Theater Company, The Importance of Being Earnest | 3 Comments »
I am usually pretty light handed with political blogging, world affairs especially.
But goddam, these people were impressive.
The dust hasn’t settled yet. I only ask myself: if I were as sure of my government’s betrayal as were the protesters on Kiev’s Maidan, would I have the balls to go out there and hold a fort — an ice fort, at that — all winter in fifteen degrees Fahrenheit? Even before you factor in the riot police?
And then put a Cossack snowman on the ramparts?
One death is too much, but so great a change for so little bloodshed is rare. May it end as well as revolutions ever do.
Posted in Ripped from the Headlines | Tagged Euromaidan, hope, Kyiv, Ukraine | 5 Comments »
Sometimes, when you live with cats, you park a basket of clean laundry to fold later, and come back to find it in an interesting position.
Sometimes rough justice has been rendered.
The camera cord is too fascinating to resist, so it’s clear she wasn’t really trapped under there.
It’s all casual, right?
Posted in cats | Tagged cats, housekeeping with animals, laundry | 5 Comments »
According to Az it is International Cat Day.
This seems like a good time to bring back an international cat photo. That’s Az’s Loki on the screen, enjoying a basket in his Seville digs five time zones away, and my Mr. Ferguson looking like something clandestine has caught up with him. Tell me they aren’t related in some way.
Posted in cats | 3 Comments »
You always have more than one best friend. Admit it. One is the person who knows what fires your soul, one (if you are lucky) is the person who will always be in your corner, one is the person you played with in the dirt. Something like that.
I had three, when I was a half-riveted Sled with no lacquer or motto painted on my slats. One got all fascinated with the Struggle of poor people thousands of miles from her and decided that nothing else deserved her time and attention. One kept marrying people till I decided there was no point trying to compete.
One locked herself in a garage, on the twentieth night of February forty-one years ago, and left the car engine running.
No one told me for a month or so, in those days before Twitter and e-mail and what ever all, when the telephones in college dormitories were catch-as-catch-can anyway, but mostly because the majority of the human race is fairly gutless. I never fully grasped the topography of her despair, though the inklings I have would not flatter any of her survivors. I have never visited her gravesite, nearby as it is; when no one is brave enough to tell you that your childhood friend has died in time for you to attend her funeral, subsequent observances seem pointless.
If the dead can know anything, they know everything, so it is all right, I imagine. Still: Linda Jean, I remember. Every year.
Posted in Life is Dumb | Tagged absent friends, anniversaries | 5 Comments »