Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Internet is awesome.

The Internet is awesome.

I woke up this morning cold. Using my modern survival skills, I walked over to the thermostat and turned up the heat, but nothing happened. Yikes, a cold snap is approaching Nelson, and our furnace appears to be broken.

Well, I thought, perhaps a fuse has blown, but a quick trip to the fuse box ruled out that possibility. So I headed downstairs to have a look at the furnace. The gas hot water heater was happily burning away, so I knew that our bill had been paid (a troubleshooting step that hasn't been solved for Matt's wireless Internet connection.) So what was wrong with our furnace?

Now, I'm not a particularly skilled handyman. I don't own any tools aside from a Leatherman and some duct tape, not even a pair of vice grips. But, as one of the manliest men in the world once told me, sometimes the secret to fixing things is to pull off the cover and have a poke around.

I pulled the cover off the furnace to be greeted by darkness. Clearly the pilot light was out. Or perhaps this was a new furnace that has electric ignition and doesn't have a pilot light. But somehow the font for the furnace name didn't exactly scream new furnace to me.

Now the handy Airco corporation had included a set of instructions on how to relight the pilot light.

But I was stuck on the second sentence of step 2. "Light Pilot." Well, how do I do that, I wondered? The pilot light is easy to find when it's glowing a nice shade of blue, but when it's out, how do you find it?

Enter the Internet. A quick search brought up this wonderful page on how to troubleshoot gas furnaces. These instructions also assumed you knew where to hold your lighter when lighting the pilot light, but fortunately their explanation of how the whole system worked allowed me to reason through it. If I'm holding open a valve to relight the pilot light, maybe I should follow the tube the valve is connected to. Voila, pilot light burner found.

Sadly, the pilot light wouldn't stay lit. But oh sweet sweet Internet, you held my hand through this problem too. A quick trip to the hardware store, $8 for a new thermocouple and we have heat again.

Would I have been able or willing to repair a gas furnace without the Internet? Not a chance. But thanks to the modern information age I sit here toasty and warm, with the happy satisfaction of having fixed the problem myself. Maybe I'll go buy some tools.

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