Thursday, December 12, 2013

It Could Have Been MUCH Worse!

This is a Goodman 90% furnace next to a
stud wall. Notice the corroded manifold and
burnt paint on top of the cabinet next to the burner box.

The furnace was rolling out bad and the top of the
cabinet was hot to the touch. Notice the paint and sticker.
This would not have ended well.

The bottom three pictures are inside the actual burner box. The front plate of the heat exchanger is an actual part of same and not just a separate shield. The crack goes through right through to the area blowing warm air in the living space. The furnace is also less than an inch from a 2x6 stud, which despite the fact this customer had to buy a furnace today, as he put it "still cheaper than a house." Maranatha!

Document Everything!

Today, I got a boiler to work on this morning with the brand name "Munchkin." Seriously, I can't make this stuff up. Anyway, the customer calls because he has poor heat upstairs and too much heat in the basement. There's an air handler that serves the upstairs with in floor heat and baseboards serving the basement. In my 27 years of working on heating systems, I have never seen a Munchkin boiler or TACO zone valves. After much electrical tracing, swapping powerheads, and replacing a thermostat and transformer, the customer has heat. This isn't what this article is really about, but was a start on my day that began yesterday.
Yesterday, I went to another customer's home because she had no hot water. With the thermostat turned most of the way up the water temperature barely made it to 94 degrees.
I verbally indicated, as well as wrote down that the furnace and water heater were vented into an unlined chimney (they didn't have a flex liner as required by code) as well as a leaking dielectric union at the water heater itself. The utility doesn't cover plumbing as of yet, nor venting but are legitimate safety concerns as there was no inspection sticker on any of the equipment. Fast forward to today, I brought in the part and the customer proceeded to chastise me that she didn't need a liner because the chimney was "too old" and that the water heater wasn't leaking. I promptly took photos of the house outside (which I cannot show for privacy reasons) as well as the venting, placement of the furnace and water heater, the absence of their inspection stickers, and the venting which was in 4 inch single wall for the furnace and three inch single wall for the water heater. Both were vented in different sides of the chimney; making placement of a flex liner impossible.

 You can see in this picture to the right that the union has some fresh water leaking and there are no tool markings as I did not try and tighten it. It would have leaked even more if I did and since the utility doesn't cover plumbing, it would have been up to my employer to cover it. The customer, who is 80 years old, elected to tell her contractor son and she read me the riot act because I was supposedly recommending stuff she didn't need. My only response was "not a problem," and then I got these pictures to cover my behind. This, boys and girls, is why I document everything and I mean everything. Maranatha!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

$30 Pre-Lit Christmas Tree Fix.

About five or six years ago, we bought a new Christmas tree with the lights already installed. This has been great because the idea of stringing lights every year was a real pain. I could just put the tree together, plug it in and it was ready to add ornaments, garlands and the obligatory angel my mother in law made before she passed away. Last Saturday, we put the tree up and I spent nearly two hours replacing bulbs because the top of the lower section inexplicably went dark. I'd change a bulb and several hours later, another bulb would go out. This was getting to be some serious humbug.

Time to buy another pre lit Christmas tree, but a trip to Meijer confirmed these were picked over and the L.E.D. trees were about $100.00 (all they had were white lights). I didn't want to spend $50 on a tree that I was going to have to do this again in a short time either. The one we have, minus some needles, is fine for what we use it for and we live in a trailer. Meijer has a string of 60 L.E.D. or light emitting diode lights for $10. I bought three boxes and went to work.

L.E.D. lights have the advantage of being brighter and use a lot less electricity. They'll also last for about 25 to 30 years without burning out and the bulbs are cool to the touch. The regular incandescent lights are about $3.00 a box, but within a year or two, will be back to square one. I don't have the foggiest idea how many lights you'll need for this, but three to four strands for a six foot tree should work fine. You might also want some small zip ties and a pair of wire cutters to make life easier. Make sure the power is off before you remove the old strands and keep children and pets away. Start with the bottom section first by carefully removing all the old wires from the branches. Some are held on with plastic clips, zip ties, or other methods. Pay attention to how the old wires went on because this is what makes the tree able to fold up and put away. Leave enough slack in the new wire, but no so much that it dangles and you use too much of the strand. It's helpful to have the strand plugged in while securing it to the branches, covering as much of the wire as you can. My advice is to use a few zip ties or those clips to hold the wires to the tree and once you're satisfied with the result, go ahead and secure it the rest of the way. Do the same for the top or subsequent sections, making sure you can un plug the strands between sections like it was on the old strands. This is not hard, but time consuming and it sure beats plunking down another $100 to $150 on a new L.E.D. tree. Merry Christmas and Maranatha!

Restoring Clarity: How to Remove Aftermarket Window Tinting.

You can use this advice for whatever you want. If you have some really nasty window tinting and want to replace it, this article will work for that purpose. The same goes for when you get a fix up ticket for illegally tinted windows on your ride or like me, getting a really small truck that's hard enough to see out of without the windows being a limousine tint on the sides. As I've gotten older and my vision less responsive to low light, I've grown to realize that having as much light at night to properly see the mirrors is important. The truck I'm driving for the next week or two is a 2003 Ford Ranger with vent covers and window tint on the front side windows. Since I'm 6'1", my eyes are level with the top of the window, so the vent covers came off right away. The tint remained and was a source of concern, especially with the police presence and the need to use my side mirrors. With permission from the boss, I got to work and later started to remove this godawful tinting.

In a previous life, the owner was a smoker. A nice burn on the driver's seat and numerous dimples on the inside of the window were a testament to that. The tint itself was also wavy, which distorted the already compromised view to the sides. It was well past time to get this off. However, you need to have the right tools before you begin to make this job quick and easy. There are no substitutions for any of this. As always, be careful as the tools and methods used can cause severe burns and cuts. You can also damage the glass and trim if you are not careful. Do this and any other fixes at your own risk. Do not even think about using this method on a heated rear window. You WILL wreck the defroster grid if you use razor blades on it. A heat gun and some solvent may be the fix here.

  • You NEED a heat gun. A hair dryer may suffice on a warm day, but a heat gun will cost about the same without annoying your significant other.
  • A supply of single edge razor blades, with no scraper. Figure two blades per average sized side window.
  • A jar or other box to put the use blades in.
  • A microfiber towel or two.
  • A bottle of Sparkle glass cleaner.
Roll the window down about halfway and open the door, if applicable. Use the heat gun and warm a corner to get it started and use a razor blade to lift up a corner enough for you to get it with your fingers. Heat a slightly larger swath and pull the tinting gently off the window. Despite your best efforts, the tint will tear so be patient. Just keep working it up with the razor blade and using the heat gun to soften the adhesive. You may find it helpful to use a light slicing motion with the razor blade to get this worked off. Once the tint is off the window, you'll have a lot of sticky mess left. Spray this liberally with the glass cleaner and if you don't want your door trim wet, place a towel over it. Use the razor blade to gently scrape the adhesive off the glass. When blade stops being effective, toss it and get a new one. Really, trying to clean the adhesive off will get you cut fingers and scraping it will ruin the blades anyway. Use a new blade and the cleaner as a lubricant, keep removing the adhesive. Once the bulk if this is off, finish cleaning with the microfiber cloth until the window is clean and clear. You can also try a plastic scraper to remove the adhesive if you're concerned you'll scratch the glass, but if you're careful the razor blades will suffice. Once the windows are clean, you've increased your visibility in your ride. Maranatha!

I'm Back

Two weeks ago, I got a call from my former boss while having a leisurely lunch in Holly. He needed me to perform the repairs for a utility company, which means that I would be covering a lot of territory over three counties. Other than the techs that they already have, I'm going to be doing the lion's share of this work myself. Yes, I took the job and we are back on good terms. Good ability and effort does have its reward and so does forgiveness. My job will focus on repairs and making the customers happy, which is what any technician can hope for.