In another thread, somebody named Gidget accused me of being smug when
I advised a poster to not play with their furnace.
And, I suppose I was.
But please, allow me to explain (Yes, I'm bored.)
In the winter of 2000, my furnace went out... a furnace I had just
bought in 1998. (I could be off in the exact years here, but the
timespans are accurate).
I had also just lost my job at Sprint; I had ZERO $$$.... I was cold
and I thought that I couldn't afford a service call.
And like so many who had come before me and like so many who would come
after, I posted over in alt.hvac expecting (more like - DEMANDING)
What did I get? I got my ass flamed, thats what I got. And I bitched
and screamed and cried 'BUT THIS IS THE INTERNET YOU HAVE TO ANSWER ME'
and I went on and on and on and on ... for a long time, and eventually,
when it occured to me I couldn't possibly fix the furnace without help,
and that no one was going to give me any help, that I would have to
call for repair.
And so I did. And they swapped out the control board.
BUT NOT BEFORE he replaced the blower cap, and then the blower motor,
which it turned out that neither had anything wrong with them.
And then a week later, it went out again.
And so I called them back.
And a different tech swapped out the control board.
And then another week later, it went out again.
And so I called them back.
And a different tech swapped out the control board and the variable
speed motor controller board.
FAST FORWARD TO WINTER, 2001
My furnace quits. And so I called the same company.
And still another tech comes, swaps the control board.
Are you getting the picture here?
FAST FORWARD TO WINTER, 2002
In the interest of brevity, I'll just say that all boards were replaced
again; this time with factory modified boards that prevented a simple
'swap'. Cables were cut, new connectors installed, boards mounted in
different places. And of course, nothing worked on power up.
After about 4 hours of talk between the tech and some geezer back at
the shop, 3 different techs were on site. Finally a 4th tech showed up,
pulled out a schematic that could just as easily been for the space
shuttle instead of a furnace. And he schooled the 3 other techs. He
schooled them BADLY. And that night I thanked the HVAC gods for finally
sending someone competent.
Bottom line on the whole deal: There was a design flaw in the circuitry
that my furnace used.
FAST FORWARD TO WINTER 2003
New inducer motor. New gas valve. Some other new things I no longer
remember. The only original part on the thing is now the frame.
And so, what did I learn?
Lesson 1. If I had gone ahead and swapped the board myself, back in
2000, I would have thought the problem was fixed.
Lesson 1 moral: I would have thought WRONG.
Lesson 2. Even companies that have supposedly well trained techs don't
always know what they are doing. Do I care? Not unless I have to pay
for their incompetence. And I didn't. Never paid a dime for ANY of this
Lesson 2 moral: You might not always pick the best company to do your
work. But if you do it yourself, you are going to pay, sometimes A LOT
more than you ever thought possible.
Lesson 3. After this experience, I made peace over in alt.hvac; and
apologized for my complete and total lack of understanding of exactly
what I was saying when I asked for help. And then I became a lurker
over there, as it is quite fun to watch person after person get their
ass handed to them on a silver platter. Being a lurker, I also read the
bi-weekly reports of joe homeowner burning down his house, killing his
kids, getting electrocuted, suffocating on gas/exhaust fumes - etc...
etc... etc.... all because the dumb bastard thought he could save $150
by fixing it himself. I bet $150 don't seem like a whole lot of $$ when
you are 6 feet under.
Lesson 3 moral: When it comes to HVAC.... don't play with it. Call
someone. These things are no longer a gas valve, a limit switch and a
blower. They are computers which happen to be hooked to gas lines. How
many of you (non mechanics) work on your cars engine (and I don't mean
an oil change)? None of us do. In the pursuit of efficiency, cars have
become too far complex for the average joe to even think about fixing
Why do you think your furnace is any different? Because it's inside
Well, I'm done ranting.
Let the flames begin!