Hot Stuff!

First things first; for those who’ve asked to know what I look like, here’s a picture I shot with my MPX220 on Sunday 6/12/05. As you can see (if you check my articles page) I’m wearing my AGV Aeromesh jacket and sitting on my bike. I’m also wearing my Axio Tekno backpack. Slight case of helmet hair and one of my two Motorola HS810 Bluetooth headsets attached to my ear. I prefer my Logitech, though…

The last couple of days have pretty much sucked! Anyone trying to get to my site lately and found it down (or had problems emailing me), I apologize. I’ve had problems with my air conditioning since Sunday and only now got them worked out… so during really warm periods I’ve been shutting down my servers. Sorry for any inconvenience (especially to the people whose websites I host… SORRY!)

I’ve also not updated for that reason (yeah, like I need an excuse!)… I’ve just been too hot and miserable to really worry about it to be honest with you.

So what happened? Well, it’s a sad and convoluted story… which I’ll tell you 🙂

Basically, on Sunday I was having a pretty decent day. I had been out and done some side-work for a friend, had a chance to ride my bike… all was well with the world. Got home and was puttering around the house when I made the realization that I was starting to feel sort of toasty. Hmm… interesting. I thought little of it, but as the day wore on I felt worse. Finally went to the thermostat to find it reading an ambient temperature of over 80 degrees in the house. Considering I have my A/C set on 74, that’s not good. So I check the register in my downstairs bathroom. No air flow. OK, this is not good. I head down to the basement to check in on the furnace and put my hand on the side of the duct-work where the condenser lives. Very cold. I then check where the pipes from the compressor run into my condenser coils, and there’s ice on one of them. Oh boy.

Up to the garage, grab a 1/4″ wrench and I start pulling apart the ductwork. As soon as I pull it off I’m blasted by a blast of cold air… and given the chance to see what my cooling coils look like with about 1/8″ of ice all over them. I mean they were covered. The reason I had no airflow is that the coils were completely blocked!

Joy. That means one of two things; either I have no air flow due to a blocked or dead filter, or I’m low on freon. Financially I think I prefer the former as a possibility.

So, nothing I can do at 11pm on a Sunday, so I shut off the furnace entirely and leave it to thaw overnight. Thankfully my furnace is right next to a drain and there’s enough of a slight slope that water will run down to the drain from the furnace.

That turned out to be a long night. There was no way I was going to sleep; temperature reaching at least about 90 in the bedroom. Windows open didn’t help because it was still around 80 outside most of the night and humid as hell (would’ve just made me even more miserable). So I spent most of the night up.

Went to work on Monday only to find that I was too exhausted to actually do anything. Finally left around lunchtime feeling kind of grim and headed to Home Depot to get a new filter for my A/C. Took that home, installed it and cranked up the furnace again.

Within a few minutes we were down about 2 degrees from the 83 degrees that the house had been when I got home. Air flow seemed reasonable and all was right with the world. Right? Wrong.

Roll on 7pm. I realize it’s getting warm again. I go check the thermostat… despite the A/C having been on all day we’re back up to 84 degrees. The humidity outside is a killer because there are storms rolling in as well… joy! Shut down the servers again to make sure they don’t get too toasty and go check the furnace again. Once again, ice (though this time not quite as bad as the day before). This time I don’t shut down the furnace entirely… I turn the cooling off and the house fan on to melt away the ice and at least provide some air flow through the house.

So I start a routine of A/C cooling on for one hour, then off for 30 minutes with only the house fan on. Nothing I can do this late at night anyway. By 11:30pm when I finally go to bed I’ve manhandled the temperature down to 79 degrees. Not perfect, but at least livable (and the humidity isn’t too bad now since the storms have rolled through and given us one hell of a light show).

So yesterday morning, with the A/C off we’re at 78 degrees when I get up. Reasonable enough to bring up the servers. Looks like it’s not going to be a stunningly hot today, so I leave my servers up.

Talk to a friend of mine at work, and it appears his future father-in-law does air-conditioning as part of his job… and is quite willing to do some side work. Sweet! So I call the guy and schedule him to come over.

Well to make a long story short (TOO LATE!), I was quite low on freon. Once we charged it everything started to work normally again. As of this morning I’m at 74 degrees in the house and quite happy. However, this isn’t the end of the story.

Freon doesn’t get “used up” in A/C systems, it’s permanently in there and won’t lose pressure unless you’ve actually got a leak. We already looked for the leak at the compressor end, no leak. That means I’ve got a leak somewhere in the coils, potentially meaning I might have to replace them. So despite having the system charged and working at peak capacity again, it won’t last. I’m going to wait for a relatively cool day when I can shut the system down again and start looking for the leak. Should be fun… I think.

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