Monday, February 27, 2006

#117 - Air! We Have Air!

Back in November I groused about our air conditioner being on the fritz. Only in California would we complain about not having air conditioning in November, but there you are. Appended to my "Autumn in California" post were several helpful suggestions along the lines of going out, looking at the fuse box, and making sure there were no dead bugs preventing contact.

I actually allowed myself that snarky feeling that, ha!, I had already done that and verified that the contact was clean. The fact that I checked that same fuse several times had less to do with paranoia and more to do with a growing desperation that I was going to have to call out the repair guy before I was good and ready. "Good and ready" in this case is defined as "having received my tax refunds for the year."

So once my refunds showed up, I felt that we could tackle some of the more annoying things that we've been artfully avoiding all winter long.

To understand what happened next, you need to get better acquainted with my home owner skills. Like Dave Barry, I was born without the Mr. Goodwrench gene that magically allows guys to undertake nearly any home improvement project - up to and including adding additional rooms to the house and making them look like they belong to the house - without fear of having their beloved spouse gently pull them to one side and whisper softly in their ear, "Honey, time to call a carpenter."

Well, calling a carpenter would probably be a much faster solution, but it can be an economically challenging one. The average house call for a carpenter (the one where he comes out, looks at your project, and actually chuckles in anticipation of his next Caribbean cruise) costs about as much as your next three car purchases combined. So it is that you find yourself wandering the aisles of Home Depot, hoping that something will jump out at you that says "we gotcher floor-under-the-toilet repair kit right here!" And, of course, it never works right. You try so hard to follow the instructions that were written by bitter college students that just found out you have to pass tests and everything just to graduate, and still it looks like something that London would pay good money to put in front of their government offices as art. This is not a compliment.

The bottom line is that my home improvement skills are measured not in terms of acumen, but rather in terms of criminal malfeasance.

With that in mind I am happy to report that I have fixed our air conditioner problem. I know you're curious as to how, exactly, I managed it. You might be interested to know that it was, in fact, my washing machine that led me to the solution. I was all set to do a load of darks yesterday. I don't normally do laundry on the Sabbath, but this was an emergency. I had no dark socks that were clean and had passed their smog certs. Can't go to work like that, so I dropped a load into the wash and pulled the timer out. This is usually the signal the water is waiting for so it can begin filling the tub, which is my signal to close the lid and get out of its way.

Except that, this time, it didn't happen. I must have diddled with that darn'd timer for five full minutes before I finally figured out that, somehow, the washer wasn't getting any electricity. (In my defense, I was fooled by the false positive given off by the light in the laundry room, which was working.) Having broken the code, I immediately went outside to check the circuit box because that's what we highly trained home improvement savants do when the electricity isn't working on one of our major appliances. Sure enough, I noticed that the circuit marked "Washer" had been tripped, and I reset it. Just before closing the circuit box, however, I also noticed that, directly across from the "Washer" circuit, there was another circuit labelled "Air Cond" that - funnily enough - also appeared to be tripped.

Huh. Whattayaknow.

At this moment in time I was feeling more than a little sheepish. After all, a couple of weeks earlier Mrs. Woody and I were sitting down and budgeting our tax returns. Under "heating and air" we had budgeted something like $1500 in case we had to replace something major. With that firmly in mind, I tiptoed across the kitchen to the thermostat, set the temperature down a few degrees, and threw the "Cool" switch. I tiptoed back across the kitchen to the floor vent that we use as a flash freezer whenever we're feeling really warm and need to have icicles instantly appear on our foreheads, which is what happens whenever the air conditioner is working. Yep. Sure enough. Ice crystals began forming on my upper lip.

"Um, Honey? I think I solved our air conditioner problem."

I have rarely been more embarrassed in my life.

Fortunately, Mrs. Woody looked on this as a direct answer to prayer, and I am content not to disabuse her of that notion. Although, I sure wish the Spirit had acted on me sooner so we could have avoided all these warm days we've had in February. As it turns out, the miracle - such as it was - had a limited shelf life. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. It's wonderful knowing that we have our air conditioner back, and we look forward to using it again just as soon as this freezing rain stops in a few days. On the other hand, our dryer won't work now.

Yes, I already checked the circuit breaker. You think I wouldn't check that first??

No comments: