October 25, 2005

It's Electric

For several months now, I've noticed that my heating and air-conditioning have been unreliable. Sometimes they would work, while other times they wouldn't.

This would irritate me in various ways, depending on the weather. If, for example, it was 70 degrees and not humid, I could care less if my air-conditioning worked. However, if it was 88 degrees and humid, I was more than a little bit miffed when the A.C. refused to click on.

Likewise, as we journeyed towards the winter months, it unnerved me that the furnace wouldn't kick on to ensure a toasty home temperature in the upper 60s. Sometimes it would work, but mostly it wouldn't. When you're talking about a state were -30 degrees isn't unheard of, the possibility the furnace won't kick on is a real threat.

I weighed my options over the recent weeks. Should I call in a heating and cooling expert to assess my situation? That sounded expensive, and I'm a man who is chronically short on finances for such things. So, I decided, based primarily on my financial self-interests, that the root cause of my heating and air-conditioning woes was the thermostat.

It was just a guess, of course, but in my mind it made the most sense. If it was just the furnace that wouldn't click on, I would have suspected a furnace issue, but this was a problem that affected heating and cooling alike, so it just made sense that it was the thermostat.

Off to Menards I went over the weekend, where there's a surprising selection of themostats available, ranging from $20 to $120, with the most expensive models offering such features as week-long varying temperature controls, back-lighting for those times you find yourself cold and stumbling around in the dark, and the capability to recognize and taser intruders, which is a nice feature.

Interestingly, no matter which thermostat I was looking at, the packaging on the front always proclaimed "Installs in minutes," while on the back, in fine print, they warned "Should only be installed by a professional."

Once again, I decided that hiring a professional sounded expensive, particularly for an installation that should only take minutes, so I went ahead and opted to install the thing myself.

A little known fact about electricity and me: we don't get along all that well. Oh, sure, I use electricity with reckless abandon daily but, every once in awhile, electricity likes to let me know who's really the boss.

Before installing the thermostat, I made sure to cut power to the part of the house I was working in. Unfortunatly, the thermostat wires ran to an entirely different part of the house. So, as I worked to remove the old thermostat, I happened to touch a couple of the wires and. . .

A funny thing about electrical shocks: you kind of stand there and just take it for a moment before you jump back and start cursing. Such was the case with me. I knew I was getting zapped, but there was a part of my brain that still was focused on completing the task at hand, so I just kind of stood there, holding on to those hot wires, until I finally acquiesced and jumped back, frantically waggling my hand.

As for the rest of the installation, I can only say this: "Installs in minutes" is a wildly variable claim. Oh, sure, it only took minutes for me to install the thermostat, but it took 78 of those minutes which, if you'll notice, is over an hour.

However, having now officially and successfully installed a thermostat in my home, I now consider myself a professional.

I charge $120 per installation.

Posted by Ryan at October 25, 2005 11:47 PM | TrackBack

Having come close to electrocuting myself as a kid, I don't mess with electrical stuff if I can help it.

The package didn't lie, it did install in minutes, just alot more than you thought!

I want to replace our thermostat with something that's programmable and more accurate, we're still using the old slide style that has a range of about fifteen degrees you might be setting it at.

Posted by: Johnny Huh? at October 26, 2005 01:40 PM

Yes, but did it work?

Posted by: Clapper at October 26, 2005 01:59 PM

Well, the furnace has been working fine. I'll have to wait until warmer days to try out the air conditioning.

Posted by: Ryan at October 26, 2005 02:13 PM

If it works, then you done good. See, you are Jack Handey.

Posted by: Donna at October 26, 2005 08:33 PM

Jump back and start cursing from house current? Pussy. Try an arcwelder.

Posted by: Joshua at October 27, 2005 11:31 AM
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