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Crazy Day. A Rat Almost Made Me Find Religion.

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Super Bowl MVP
Apr 1, 2011
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Virginia Beach, VA


What a day. I woke up this morning, had my coffee and cigarette, and logged onto BGO for a little bit. I went to make breakfast, then suddenly the lights flickered and the heat cut off. Since it's pretty cold here right now with relentless winds, I knew I had to find the problem and get right on it.

Simplest thing first, I checked out the thermostat. Since it's a 20 year old mechanical with mercury, I was pretty certain that might be the issue, so I went up to Lowe's and got a cheap digital one and installed it. I went to cut it on, and nothing.

I thought back to this Summer when it was over 100 and the capacitor in the heat pump blew at the worst possible time. At that time, I was in the attic messing with the air handler to unclog the drain pan. I remembered seeing a reset button for the fuse on the air handler blower motor. So I got the ladder and went up in the attic to see if that was tripped. I spent the better part of 2 hours crammed in the attic messing with the air handler this morning. The reset wasn't tripped, so I had to take apart the paneling and blower motor frame to get to the in line fuse to see if that was blown. No such luck.

Then things went from bad to worse. I was sitting on the couch just trying to think of what it could possibly be. After a while, it occurred to me that I was stupid for not checking the circuit breakers right off the bat. Luckily, I didn't have a dunce moment, as it wasn't tripped. Just to be sure, I flipped them on and back off again, but still got nothing.

So I flip the breaker and go outside in the driving 42 degree rain in 30 mph winds to enjoy a few hours dismantling the heat pump to see if anything was shorted out or broken. I took off and tested every part, and nothing was wrong with anything. So I put it all together, went back in the garage, and flipped the breaker on. And that's when I **** nearly **** my pants. As I flipped it on, a bluish white arc of electricity shot out of the breaker box, and right over my head. The breakers kicked, and after I shoved my heart back into my chest and nearly found Jesus, I went outside to see what had happened. I quickly became grateful for the driving rain when I saw burn marks on the side of the house coming from the A/C disconnect box.

I pulled the disconnect, and didn't see anything visibly wrong, so I dismantled the entire box. When I pulled the terminal cover plate off, a scorched rat fell out. Right where he fell out of, there was a chewed hot wire. This little bastard was likely the original source of my problems to begin with. When I traced the chewed hot wire, everywhere it came in contact with from the box to the heat pump, had burn marks on it. The arc that nearly took me out had to have happened right when that little rat bit through the wire. Or he bit it, and that surge just shot the whole thing to hell.

So I go back to Lowes, and get some 10 gauge wire to replace the burned one. When I went to screw the end of the wire into the terminal, the terminal fell apart. So lucky me, I had to go back up to Lowes and get a new A/C disconnect. When i got home, I finally had to throw in the towel. I had been at this thing since 11 this morning, and it was almost 8:30. I had to tap out and call it a night.

I can't remember the last time I had a day quite this brutal. I have to freeze my ass off for the night, but at least I can take solace in the fact that in the morning I will have light to work with, new equipment, I'll be dry and less cold, and I will hopefully get the heat up and running. Oh, and the fact a rat didn't cause my demise is a huge plus :D

It's a good thing I know how to figure out how to fix all the **** that goes wrong around here. Maybe I should get licensed, then I could make money at it.

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