Google The Unplanned Homeschooler: I'm a homeschooler, I can do anything!

Friday, November 27, 2015

I'm a homeschooler, I can do anything!

I wasn't planning on going out shopping on Black Friday, but thankfully there weren't any lines at Locke Supply when they opened at 7:30 this morning.

I had to run down there first thing to get a part to fix my furnace. The furnace quit working in the wee hours of the morning the night before Thanksgiving. I was still in the kitchen, putting the finishing touches on the baklava I had decided to make for the first time this year when my daughter tiptoed in and said, "I think there is something wrong with the furnace. It made weird noises and now it won't turn on."

I checked the breakers, but they were fine, so I flipped the power switch off and back on, to reset the unit. I could hear the blower start and the gas come on, but there was no familiar whoosh of ignition.

I took the cover off the unit, but couldn't see an obvious problem, and never having worked on a furnace, I took the safest route and turned off the gas and the power supply until I could figure out a solution.

It wasn't just the middle of the night, it was Thanksgiving! Even if I could somehow find a repair person to come out on Thanksgiving in a small town, I worried about how much that would cost.

So, I wrote down the model number of the furnace and set to work, trying to figure out what might be wrong with it, to minimize the cost if I could. At least if I narrowed down the problem, it might help save a little time, and when you're calling for HVAC repair on Thanksgiving, time is money.

As I researched the issue, educating myself about furnace parts and how they work, I learned that the most likely source of this particular problem was the ignitor. But I didn't know where mine was, or how to change it.

Enter YouTube! You can learn anything on YouTube. So far this year, I have fixed a toilet, replaced a keyboard on a laptop, fixed a refrigerator, and now, repaired a furnace using tutorials from YouTube. But I am getting ahead of myself.

I pulled an all-nighter, reading everything I could find and watching tutorials, but by mid morning, armed with knowledge, and confident that I could find the ignitor and at least check to see if it was cracked or damaged in some way, I returned to the furnace. While my sweet potato casserole was baking, I found the ignitor and managed to carefully release it's bracket from the frame so I could see if it was indeed the culprit.

As you can see here, the old ignitor, on the right, was clearly damaged. It was cracked so badly that once I had it fully removed, it virtually crumbled in my hand. But the good news was, I knew without a doubt that this was the source of the problem, so I put off calling a repair person and decided to hope the temperatures outside wouldn't drop too much by the next morning.

Thanksgiving in northeastern Oklahoma was mild this year. It was rainy, but unseasonably warm, and the cloud cover helped to keep temperatures up through the night. By morning on Black Friday, it was starting to get cool outside, but inside the house was still comfortable, and for that, I am so thankful. I might not have been able to put the repair off until the store opened this morning if not for the nice weather.

At 7:30, when the doors opened, there I was, perhaps the only early bird shopper that particular store would see. But I got my new ignitor and headed home to make the repair.

I handled the new part carefully, making sure not to get any oils from my skin on it, because the tutorials said that could increase its chance of failure.

Installing the ignitor was challenging, because of the tight fit, but I took my time and put in in place gently. Once I replaced the screw that held the bracket in place and hooked up the wires, I turned back on the power and the gas.

The ignitor glowed bright red before igniting the gas. You can still see it faintly glowing in the photo above.

And then, whoosh, all the burners were lit and there were beautiful blue flames once more! I did it! For just over $33.00, tax included, I fixed my own furnace and didn't have to call a repair person at all. I'm not going to lie, I'm so proud of myself I still can't stop smiling!

But here's the best part. While teaching myself how to fix a furnace, I couldn't help thinking this is exactly what homeschooling is all about. My kids watched me tackle this repair, and they were proud when I told them I could fix it, but I'm going to teach them how I learned what I did, from finding the model number on the unit to researching parts. I'm going to use this as an opportunity to demonstrate that we can do anything as long as we are willing to put in the time and effort to learn, and of course, take the appropriate safety measures to do the job right.

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