Two months ago, our washing machine stopped working in the middle of a wash cycle. It’s 15 years old, so we figured it may actually be time to look for a new one. But if you know us at all, we weren’t going down without a fight.
After some googling, we found it was a simple 2-minute fix. Literally.
How many people would have called a technician, or worse…bought a brand new washing machine? (Strangely enough, just a few weeks later, some friends of ours had the exact same problem. They were just a hair away from buying a replacement, as they didn’t really believe it could be as simple as we described. They went home, and sure enough…that was exactly the problem. Saved them from spending an unnecessary $700. You’re welcome, friends-to-remain-unnamed.)
Fast forward to this afternoon.
We returned home from an anniversary weekend in Lake Tahoe, and upon walking in, noticed a slight chill in the house. Which was great news. Our super awesome Nest thermostat had sensed we were away so the temperature inside the house had dropped to 60 degrees.
And while 60 is not unbearable, I prefer not to wear a ski parka inside. And as I already said, because the Nest is super awesome, it detected that we were home and automatically turned on the heat to reach our preferred 69 degrees.
The efforts to unpack continued, and about 10 minutes later, I noticed something. Or the lack of something, rather. The heat still wasn’t on. I stood in front of the family room vent. No cozy gusts of warmed air. I went to our bedroom and stood in front of that vent. No air flow there either.
So I went back to the thermostat in the hallway.
It did turn it on, didn’t it? It says the heat is on, but there’s no air coming from the vents. Fabulous.
[Randy walks up to me as I stand at the thermostat]
Randy: Didn’t the heat come on when we came home?
Me: Yes. Well, it’s trying to come on. I can hear the furnace buzzing, so I’m pretty sure that at least the power is on, but no air is coming out.
We were home no more than 20 minutes, and we were already putting our DIY caps on.
I checked a few more things to help rule stuff out. Does the fan/blower work on the manual setting? Yes. Are the batteries in the thermostat good? Yes. Did we trip a breaker? No.
So we knew it wasn’t the fan/blower, or dead batteries or a tripped breaker.
Randy got out the ladder, and I got out my laptop and started googling…
I googled “furnace turns on but no air blows”…
I found a few sites right away that gave a list of things to check before calling the HVAC guy. After turning off the power at the breaker (of course), Randy climbed on to the roof and removed a few service panels on the unit.
We went through those initial easy fixes, none of them did the trick.
So I googled the actual brand of our furnace, American Standard, which led to some forums on how to troubleshoot problems with that furnace brand. Turns out there’s a blinking red light on the circuit board of our furnace that helps diagnose the problem.
Me: [yelling up to Randy on the roof] Is there a blinking red light anywhere???
Randy: Yes. It’s blinking 3 times.
So I googled that, and it turns out that means it’s the “pressure switch”. I described the pressure switch, and after a few moments, he found it.
Me: [still yelling] It says to disconnect the rubber tube that leads from that switch, and blow through it to make sure there is no debris or bugs or water.
Randy blows through the tube, and reconnects it.
I turned the breaker back on.
I ran back in the house and switched the thermostat on to get the heat to kick in. And we waited…then a few l-o-n-g seconds later…WHOOOOOSH!
Gloriously warm gusts of air were pushing their way through the vents…
Our house is now a balmy 69 degrees, just how we like it.
Why do I tell you this silly story?
- Fixing it ourselves meant we didn’t have to wait for a service technician to come out.
- The fix cost us $0.00.
- Not all service technicians are honest. A “good” one will make the easy fix and charge you just the $50 service call fee. But a “bad” one will make a small problem seem enormous and charge you for labor and parts you don’t even need, easily meaning a bill of $500 or more. And you can’t always tell the “good” from the “bad”.
So don’t be lazy.
The point is to at least TRY. When something breaks, gosh darn it, just Google it. Or Bing it. Or whatever-search-engine-you-use it. Even just running through the “Top 10 Things to Check Before Calling the Service Tech” may help save you some cash.
Because the truth is that money should be invested, earning you more money, and not lining the pockets of Big Al’s Furnace Fixers.
Like I’ve said in nearly every other DIY post, we’ve saved so much money by not throwing money at every creak, clink and rattle. Even if it means asking a handy friend to come over and look at it with you for a promise of pizza and beer, that works too.
Your laziness is costing you money. Literally.
I’ve gotta ask, partly because I’m nosy, and partly because well, never mind. I’m just nosy. Have you fixed anything yourself? How much did you save?
Now for one last thing , just so I can sleep a little better tonight…
Disclaimer / Legal Mumbo-Jumbo:
DIY projects, such as those mentioned above, are performed at your own risk.
As with any do-it-yourself/DIY project, unfamiliarity with the tools and process can be dangerous. All DIY-related posts should be construed as theoretical advice and aesthetic inspiration. Improper use of tools could result in damage to your property or serious bodily injuries. MYSHINYNICKELS.com is not liable for any damage or injury resulting from the DIY projects listed or referenced.