If you missed yesterdays installment, you can read it by clicking here. I’ll wait.

The relay was waiting for me when I got home, but I didn’t see it for half an hour. I looked around the porch and even in Va’s lovely hydrangeas, but I didn’t see a package. I kicked Penny’s soccer ball for her several times (it was cooler outside than in the house) while I waited for the UPS guy to get here (they often deliver stuff to our house after 5:00pm). It started to rain. I was hoping the relay would get here before the rain started. Sometimes hopes are realized, because shortly after it started to rain, I spotted the package next to the garage. And then it stopped raining (I would have installed the relay in the rain though.)

I immediately set to work. It took me about 20 minutes to install the relay, but the AC didn’t come on! I was super-bummed! I went in the house to get my voltmeter, and Va could see that I was not a very happy looking person. Even though I was kicking myself for not calling the repairman on Monday, I wasn’t ready to give up.

I started measuring voltages, chasing wires, and comparing them to the schematic. I eventually chased the 24VAC line from the thermostat to a switch that was labeled something like “HIGH PRESSURE SWITCH, PRESS TO RESET.” So I pressed it and the AC jumped to life.

Ahhh. The temperature in the house is almost where we like it now.

I’m not 100% positive that I couldn’t have just pressed the reset button all along. But replacing the relay got rid of the loud buzzing noise, so I’m glad I did it. It also did have a busted piece on it, so it definitely needed to be replaced. I buttoned the unit back up. I wanted to go get some dialectric grease to prevent more corrosion on all those terminals, so I announced that I was going to Lowes to get some. I offered to let David drive, and he eagerly accepted. Va asked me to pick up some take out, and since the AC repair cost me less than $50, I was in a celebratory mood.

David was in a good mood too. Earlier in the day he had beaten someone rated over 2000 at chess on the Internet. He kept telling me about how he had forked his opponent’s queen, and I kept telling him that I had fixed the AC. I think we were both happy that we were each happy. 😀

Instead of dialectric grease, I found some anitoxidant. I bought a tube, but I will not interrupt the air conditioning to apply it tonight. It can wait another day.

Yesterday, I was planning to finally tackle restaining the deck. I scrubbed it down to remove the algae and dirt, and then we went to eat while the sun dried it back off again.

When we got home, the deck was dry, so I grabbed the stain and a brush and was headed out the door to do the deed when Va said, “The AC isn’t working.” And she was right. This represented a new priority, so I put down the stain & brush, and went after my toolbox.

Last fall the AC conked out on us because the terminals had corroded off the capacitor. I bought a new capacitor, but it was so late in the season then, that I waited until this spring to put it in. While I was in there, I had to replace several terminals that had also corroded to the point of unusability. Then sometime last month, it stopped again. Another terminal had rotted off. I changed it out, and voila – we had air again in under five minutes. So when it quit yesterday, I figured it had to be another rotted terminal, and sure enough, I found one more.

I replaced it, but the magic did not work this time. I believe that it is the relay this time. One of the contacts on it had a piece broken off, and the unit had been buzzing very loudly as a failing relay will do. I just hope it didn’t take out anything else.

I decided that this was probably beyond my capabilities, and planned to call someone today. We resigned ourselves to being hot, got out the fans, and I stained the deck (mostly – it needs a second coat, and I only did the floor so far).

After I went to bed, I got to thinking about that relay. I went downstairs and Googled the part number. The first hit was the outfit from whom I ordered the capacitor last fall. So I ordered a new relay and went back to bed. It will be here tomorrow. I will put it in and pray that that fixes it.

We are soft. It’s 80 degrees inside (77 outside), and we are all sweaty. Beth had a really hard time getting to sleep. It must be 85 upstairs. I put a fan on her, but we’ve only got one more. Va’s seriously considering sleeping in the basement tonight.

We didn’t have central air when I was a kid until I was in high school. I can well remember spending seemingly endless miserable nights trying to get to sleep while soaked in sweat. I’d turn the pillow over because the underside was more cool. But that trick would only work once. A friend of mine from Australia had much the same experience, which led him to remark to me one day, “Air conditioning may have destroyed the ozone layer, but it was worth it.”

I totally understand that sentiment.

Of course 85 degrees is nothing compared to what I went through as a kid. And it is nothing compared to what a lot of people here in New Hampshire go through every summer (central air is a rare commodity here), or what southerners deal with 9 months out of the year. And it is really nothing compared to what our men in uniform deal with in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I fully acknowledge that we are absolutely spoiled, but man… I really don’t like hot nights!

Last night Beth came down the stairs a couple of hours after she had been put to bed. She was hot. That’s when Va noticed that she was hot too, so she checked the thermostat. It was set to 74, but the temperature in the house was 81. Or something – I don’t remember.


Of course it was dark outside, and on top of that, it was raining cats and dogs. I did step into the garage from whence it is easy to hear if the outside unit is running or not, and of course, it was not. We turned it off and threw open a few windows, and I promised to look into it today.

As I expected, there was a rotted spade connector on the relay. I told Va it would take ten minutes to fix as I headed to the basement to get my crimper and a box of spade connectors. When I opened the drawer with the spade connectors in it, I managed to drop it on the floor.


It took five minutes to pick up all the spade connectors. Once I had them organized again, I selected one and headed back outside (into the rain) to fix the AC. That did the trick, but including the time it took to spill and collect the spade connectors, it took me 15 minutes.

So I’m sticking by my 10 minute prediction, which I should have prefixed with Yosemite Sam’s “barrin’ accidents” contingency.

Luckily, it’s only 61 degrees outside right now, so this hardly qualified as an emergency. We still ran the AC for a bit to knock down the humidity. It won’t come on again until it needs to (that’s what thermostats do).

In other repair news (just to make sure this blog posting is as boring as I can make it), we got Va’s car out of the shop today. It died on her last week just as she was pulling into the gas station. She was able to restart it, and the tank was pretty close to empty, so I figured maybe there was a little water in the tank. I made an appointment with our mechanic to have that investigated.

Then it did it again on Tuesday when she was bringing Beth and David into Concord for their music lessons. I drove out to where it had died (but by then she had restarted it and moved to a nearby gas station). We traded cars, and I was able to drive to the mechanic’s place with no problems (other than that it idled pretty roughly after I started the engine, but it recovered quickly from that). They said they could check it out the next day (yesterday), so I just left it with them over night.

Well, they did look at it late yesterday, so it wasn’t ready until this morning. It spit out a diagnostic code indicating that it was suffering from low oil pressure, and indeed, they only got 1.5 quarts out of it. I don’t like that either, since oil is not supposed to disappear from the engine. I’ve found no oil spots on the garage floor, and there has been no blue smoke, and as far as I know, those are the only two places oil can go.

So we’ll see. We still have a few more weeks before our annual trip to KY, and if there is still a problem, I’m sure it will present before then.

Here is some correspondence I had with an HVAC supply company this week. It starts with an inquiry I left on their website.

“Tonight on your web site I found a replacement capacitor that I need for an AC unit. I was trying to figure out what the cheapest way to ship it would be, so I clicked the “send me a quote” box on the “next action” part. The page it took me to indicated that my order had been sent, but it also included a quote for the part.

I’m not sure if the order went through or not. I would really like the part, but I want it shipped in the least costly way possible (won’t need AC until June at the earliest, so if you strap it to a turtle and point it in my direction, that might just work).

The part is still in my shopping cart, but since I’m not sure if the quote request resulted in an order, I’m not going to click “order” a second time until I can get some clarification.
I really don’t want two of these. Just one please.”

Hello James,

We do thank you for your inquiry and the email we received with the subject: ‘Follow Up” (pasted below). I also liked your sense of humor. Thanks for making our day brighter.

First, when you request a quote, it comes to us as a quote, not an order. (It is below your pasted email.). So as of now, it is not ordered.

Second, shipping options. Thanks for being so specific as to when you wanted the part and the parameters of the cost of getting it to you. We are normally asked to get the parts to the customer fast, like yesterday. We still have not invented faster-than-the-speed-of-light delivery, so most customer have to pay extra to get it tomorrow. In your case, we were stimulated to think differently, which we did.

If you can wait, we can order the part in our normal order cycle from the supplier who will get it in his normal order cycle. That means it will be placed in a box with other stuff and hence, reduce our cost to get the part. It may take us two to three weeks to get the part. Then we can ship it to you one of three methods:

1. Very low cost, no tracking what so ever – that will be US normal first class mail. – It may cost $2 – $3 (my guess and take a few days
2. US Priority mail – track only if lost – this costs around $5.00 – 2 – 3 business days
3. UPS Ground service – full tracking – costs $10.50 – two business days normally
4. Turtle carrier – Indian tracking only – priceless – could be unlimited, never guaranteed to arrive.

If you place your order online, you can include a comment as to the type of shipping you want and refer to this email.


My follow-up inquiry was also placed via the web, so I don’t have a transcript of that. But I did request first class USPS service rather than via turtle. Turtles are notoriously poor navigators. If anyone who reads this is looking for an HVAC parts supplier, these guys get my full endorsement.

Our AC is broken. That’s not a huge problem since it’s late October and we live in New Hampshire, but it is a problem I intend to resolve sooner rather than later.

It was in the 70’s here the past couple of days. That’s not normally a problem either, except that it was also pretty humid yesterday. Va wanted to run the AC to knock the humidity down, but the AC would not start.

Instead, the lights in the house would dim every 10 seconds or so as the AC tried to start. I figured it was either a bad compressor (expensive!) or a bad capacitor (way less expensive, but still not cheap). I called Dad. He did heat and air before he retired several years ago. He told me how to test the start capacitor.

To do that, I would need either an analog multimeter, or a capacitance meter. My meter is digital, and it doesn’t do capacitance, so I borrowed one from work today. I needn’t have bothered.

When I opened it up, I immediately noticed that one of the wires had come off the capacitor. I also noticed that the capacitor had three leads, and I happen to know that a capacitor should only have two. Confused, I called Dad again.

This particular capacitor is actually two capacitors in one package – one for the fan, and one for the compressor. They each share a common lead.

Anyhow, one of the non-common wires was off (turns out that was the fan though, not the compressor). The spade connector was somewhat abnormal looking, having a crimp on only one side:

Faulty spade connector

Faulty spade connector

See how the one on the right is missing? The edge of that spade should curl around and grip the connector on the cap, but there’s nothing there. It was just flapping in the breeze.

Luckily, that wasn’t the worst of it. Had there been nothing else wrong with the cap, the compressor not starting would be unexplained, and that would be a Bad Thing.

The other problem was that the common connector on the cap was all wiggly. I took two pictures and turned them into an animated gif. But those are kinda annoying, so you’ll have to click “more” to see it (there’s nothing more after “more” though, so if you skip it, you’re not missing much).

Anyhow, I need to find a replacement cap (and a replacement spade connector) and swap them out, and we’ll be ready to face another New England summer. But first… we’ll have to face another New England winter!