Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Ring Ring

Me, CherkyB: "Yes ma'am?"

The Mrs.: "There's no hot water."


I head home. I had been on a boondoggle, first out buying a lawn tractor, and then checking out the town of Windsor to see what was there. I had been in the Ace Hardware store when The Mrs. called with the joyous news.

First thing I check is whether the gas is on. I turn on the burner, and whoof, it lights right up. Wonderful. So the problem is with the hot water tank.

But this is not just any hot water tank. No, this is a Lennox Complete Heat system, which is a combination hot water tank/furnace. If you google it, you'll find a lot of discussions of class action lawsuits regarding it and people having problems with them not lasting very long, etc. But I didn't know that at the time.

I took the side off the machine and noted that it was flashing a "watchguard" code that instructed me to power cycle it and then write down the code it flashed when it powered up. That code was "limit switch open".

There are stickers all over this thing from the company that installed it, and so I called them. It was about 5:45, and so I was directed to an afterhours pager number, and then to call another number if it was more than 30 minutes without a response from the page. I paged. I waited. I dug out the manual to see what "limit switch open" meant, and if it was fixable. Turns out that, yes, I can turn off the power, hit the reset button on the limit switch, and then restart it.

Naturally, no discussion of where the limit switch is or what it looks like.

I wait. 45 minutes, no callback. I call the other number, which rings me through about three switchovers before I end up with the voicemail of someone named "Mike." I leave voicemail. I wait. I wait some more. I page again.

Then, I start poking around at the top of the tank where all the goodies are. I find a thing that looks like a sensor that has a button in the center of it. I can't reach the button. I dig around and find a pen. The phone rings. It's Chris from the HVAC company. I describe the problem to him. He says I can reset the limit switch and have hot water tonight, then they can come out tomorrow to do the repair, and then I don't have to pay time-and-a-half for an afterhours call.

I say, "I'm right now trying to reset the limit switch, but I'm not sure if this is the right thing."

"It has two blue wires coming out of it."

"Yes, that's the one. OK. I just push this button?"

"Yeah. It will click."

Turn the power back on, and the burner lights right up. He tells me I need a new recirculation pump, that the pumps wear out with about how old my system is (he had me read the serial number to him which tells the model year), and they don't circulate the hot water enough and the heat builds up at the top, which trips the thermal limit sensor. Call back tomorrow to schedule a service call.

We got hot water about 20 minutes later. Wonderful. The Childrens had already taken cold baths. HannieC was unhappy that we had hot water after she had taken a cold bath.

But on a happier note, I galavanted around a bit yesterday looking for a lawn mower. After much consultation with my oldest brother, DougieC, who owns the largest plot of land amongst the C clan (as far as I know), I decided to take a close look at Craftsman. I did a little web research, and I learned about some features I hadn't heard about before, such as "step-through design" and "electronic power take-off". I also learned that the Craftsman lawn tractors are all really Husqvarnas, and that they generally score pretty well in comparison reviews. Sears isn't all that far from work, so I slipped out for an hour to go look at what they had.

Everything was on sale. Big sale. $300 off everything other than the bottom-of-the-line, which was only $100 off. A guy came over and asked me if I needed help. Yes indeedley-doodley, I need some help. I see here 5 lawn tractors, and I see 11 prices. Which are the prices for the models you have here, and what are the differences for all the other models you don't have on display?

"Well, I kind of wish the person who worked this department wasn't out right now, cuz he'd know the answers. But we can probably figure them out by reading the signs."

This is not exactly the kind of help I was looking for. See, I'm a fairly bright guy, and I can read signs as well as the next guy. Perhaps better. But we muddled through it together. About 15 minutes into it, the guy who worked in the department came back, and he answered a few questions we had remaining. Like if mulching kits were available. Also, we noted that they sold both the Craftsman and the Husqvarna-labeled models, and they appeared to be identical in every way including price except for the color and design of the case, and that the Husqvarna had an electronic power take-off, and the Craftsman had a manual one.

I also noted that the $300-off sales price seemed awfully similar to the normal price I had seen on Lowe's website. And upon further review, it was, and it was in stock at the local Lowe's. Now, I have a 10% off coupon at Lowe's that I got from Century 21 for being a new home buyer. So I high-tailed it down to Lowe's and bought one at 10% off. They're delivering it on Thursday.

Tomorrow, maybe we get the DSL working, and I can post more often.

No, the house isn't sold yet. But soon, I think.

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