Saturday, January 03, 2009

Ice Ice Baby

I think this must be the year of the salt. Or the winter of the salt, that is. It's out on our front porch and on our driveway, and they're spreading it all over the streets right now. And this has happened quite a bit since the beginning of December! We've had a fair share of snow already, but we've also had more ice than normal. I already told how the ice kept us from getting all the way home a week ago after our vacation to Missouri. Now it's keeping me from enjoying Christmas with the in-laws! My wife's family had scheduled their Christmas gathering for December 20th, but a huge snow storm kept that from happening. So they rescheduled it for today.

My wife and kids went earlier (it's about 60 to 90 minutes away). I had to work today and I have to work in the morning, so if I had gone I would have left much later than them, and I would've had to drive back home tonight. But then the ice began! Looking out my window, it's actually very beautiful to look at. Everything's so nice and shiny out there. But I wouldn't want to be driving in the stuff! So they're staying the night there, and I'm here at home. And actually, it's a nice quiet evening alone! Just kicking back, relaxing.

Well, first I replaced our thermostat, which is something I've never done before. Turns out to be quite easy. I came home earlier today and it was 63º in the house! I went down to the furnace, and the burners were coming on, but then turning off as the fan began to blow, so it was blowing cold air. I went through all the possibilities of what could be wrong - not that I know a thing! - and I eventually temporarily decided to call the furnace people. But then I got a tiny bit of 'inspiration,' and I wondered if, since the burners were actually igniting ok, if it was a thermostat problem that was making them turn off right away. So I went to Menards after work and bought a new thermostat. I had no idea what I was doing, but I thought if I could save a few bucks it'd be worth it, and if this didn't solve the problem, at least we'd have a brand new programmable thermostat!

So far so good... The instructions said it takes less than 30 minutes to install. Took me close to an hour, those liars!!! But it seems to be working. The furnace is running and I'm staying cozy! And they're out there covering the streets with layers of salt. Hopefully all will be drivable again when I have to work in the morning!

Vanilla Ice - Ice Ice Baby

Queen and David Bowie - Under Pressure. This is the song that Vanilla Ice "sampled" in Ice Ice Baby - although he says that technically he didn't sample it. If you listen, Under pressure goes:

dum dum dum dum dum dum dum, dum dum dum dum dum dum dum

But Ice Ice Baby goes:
dum dum dum dum dum dum dum, dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum
(There's an extra 'dum' in the second set of dums)
Technically... yep. LOL


  1. Glad that worked out, I'm sure you saved big bucks and yes never trust those guys who write them instruction manuals.
    Drive careful

  2. Okay, I learned one more thing in the one million things a home owner should know (if he don't want to pay a lot of money to service guys). Glad it worked out!

  3. Leonard, yep I saved some big bucks. It's never been less than $100 when they've been here, and usually a lot more.

    Bino, it's never ending, isn't it! What I liked about renting (which we haven't done for several years) is that if a problem came up, we would simply call the landlord or landlady and it was their responsibility to get the problem taken care of. Now, we're responsible for every little thing!

    Update: After my installation of the new thermostat, initially things seemed to be working great, as I said in this post. But I woke up the next morning, and it was 64º in the house, with the thermostat set at 68º! It just wouldn't warm up, no matter what I set the thermostat at.

    My wife came home later in the day, and I told her I might as well call the experts in. She told me that her niece's husband said that inside the actual furnace, there is a sensor that sometimes gets dusty or gets spider webs on it, and makes it not work so well.

    I thought, well, it's worth a look! I opened it up, and I couldn't tell where any sensor was. But I got a feather duster and ran it through (after having turned off the furnace by a switch on the outside). I then got the vacuum cleaner, and used the hose to vacuum all the dust, and I wiped things down with a paper towel.

    I don't know if that is what ended up fixing things, but ever since then it's been running like a charm! That was about 30 hours ago. I'm praying that's all it takes!

    Learning all the time...

  4. Hope you're staying warm, Mr. Joel (and family) ! :)

  5. Free Spirit,

    Now I am staying warm... after this one last update (hopefully)!

    Last night it was getting cold again in the house again, after a day and a half of seeming to be ok, and my wife said we really need to call the furnace people. Reluctantly I agreed.

    A man came today, I explained the problem, and he said it did indeed sound like a burner sensor problem. He got into it, and yep, there was carbon build-up on the sensor. He cleaned it off, and did a routine checkup of everything else (gas pressure, etc) and he said everything else was just fine.

    So, Bino... one more home owner's lesson out of a million learned. :) He told me that the sensor should be checked every two to three years. I'd say probably not that often, but at least I now know the symptoms and the most likely solution, if/when it happens again.

    The good thing in all of this is that even though it turned out that we didn't "need" a new thermostat, I think this new one that I installed will save us money in the long run. I've programmed it to turn down a little at night, as well as in the afternoons when no one is home. Should save at least a little $$$ on energy.

  6. Thanks Joel, It's all very valuable lessons. I have learned how to replace a sump pump and garage door screw drive in the last year. Our furnace (by God's grace) is running fine now, but now I know few things to keep in mind if it gives any problems. Thanks again!