Monday, July 14, 2014

Things break ~ my column from Sunday's paper

How is it that machines instinctively know the absolute worse time to break down? I think they have a type of mechanical intelligence that we humans can’t comprehend.

We have out-of-town company coming tomorrow, and our air conditioner decided to take

On Monday morning, I was in the yard tending to our new baby chicks when I heard something that was a cross between a howl and a moan.

Stopping in my tracks, my sonic radar zeroed in on the source. It was the outside fan of the air conditioner.

I stepped over to wiggle it. Of course wiggling stuff rarely works, but I do it every time something breaks. It’s like earlier in the week when I plunked down on the seat of the riding lawnmower. I turned the switch and discovered the battery was as dead as a doorknob. I’ve never actually seen a dead doorknob, but I digress. I wiggled the keys and tried to crank the beast again. Nada.

After wiggling the fan, it looked fine, but for good measure, I dusted off a mechanic’s trick my dad taught me, which was to spray a little WD-40 on whatever’s broke. 

That usually doesn’t help in situations like this either, but I still squirted a little juice on the fan shaft and wiggled it again just to show I meant business.

The morning sun was roasting the metal roof, so I stood there for a while until the unit kicked back on. The fan sprang to life, and I felt a smug sense of satisfaction as I went about my chicken chores.

Later that evening, I was concentrating on some writing and noticed the house felt a little warm.

The treatments Jilda takes have changed her internal thermometer, and she gets cold easily, so we don’t keep the house as cool as we once did.

But a closer inspection of the thermostat revealed it was set on 75, but the actual temp showing on the device was 78 degrees. 

I was temped to spray a little WD-40 on it, but deep in my gut, I knew the culprit was elsewhere.

Once outside, I could hear the unit buzzing like a swarm of hornets, but the fan wasn’t turning.

I poked a thin stick between the fan-guard spokes and gave the fan a nudge, and it started begrudgingly, but it didn’t turn fast enough for the unit to kick on and cool the house.

My mind ticked through all the steps it would take to get a replacement fan, and when I looked at my watch, I realized I wouldn’t have enough time before the parts store closed.

So, we slept fretfully with a box fan blowing warm air through the bedroom.

The next morning I swilled a few cups of java and headed to town in a borrowed car ... yes my truck died too, but that’s another story. 

The new fan and starting capacitor were pricey, but thank goodness, I’d wiggled enough stuff through the years to learn how to replace an air conditioner fan.

Before the sun began scorching the roof, the air conditioner was making the inside of our house as cool as a glacier.

I’m just hoping our water heater doesn’t get in on the act.


  1. Anonymous11:21 PM

    The way you write, I'm experiencing the heat along with you!!

  2. I'll have to try wiggling a few things... usually I have to replace things as I'm not handy.... I should have taken a basic electrician course when I was younger... I'm happy you got the air conditioner working :-)

  3. Things usually breaks in threes and at the worst time. Murphy's Law...
    Glad you got the A/C repaired. Me, I just buy new cause my husband save the old stuff but doesn't have time to repair them. I learned my lesson.

  4. I have a wonderful heating/AC man. His name is Dean. I would send him to you if I could. The last time he was here, he took pity on me and repaired my dead doorknob that had fallen off.


  5. Yeah, it is a shame but the days of jiggling and jarring to start are about gone with today's electronics. Not too many relay points to 'jar' or nudge into operation. Good call though, when the fan would just ease around. Nice to be handy in a pinch. You done well, but then thou knowest that. (smile) Good article..

  6. Well, that's the thing with machines: they're always internally fragile. It's really cases like these where we're going to have to take a step back, and leave this matter to professional service or something. There's a clockwork type of logic with these things that needs a really learned hand to figure out.

    Tommy Hopkins @ AccuTemp

  7. It never rains but it pours. We say 'dead as a dodo' btw its cold and wet here. Send some heat down please.

  8. At least you were able to fix it our house, we usually have to call someone in, which simply adds to the expense...oh well, you do what you have to do.


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