Saturday, July 11, 2009

lurching from one catastrophe to another


I know this is long, but it just couldn’t be shortened.

We woke up this morning to find a puddle of water on the floor of the dining area and another, smaller, puddle on the table dripping down from the light fixture.  Great.  This happened last weekend as well sans the puddle on the table and we noticed it, by chance, almost right away because it was dinner time.  The pan under that Big Metal Box up there (known as the central air/heat unit) was full of water and over-flowing.  A lot of bumping around and cursing ensued while we tried to poke things (from both ends) through the drain hose to get it to drain out.  Basically all we did was slosh more water out so we got one of the little pond pumps and used it to extract about 7 GALLONS! of water out of the pan.  We poked some more with varying objects and Husband said some water was now dripping out outside.  We patted ourselves on the back and ate our dinner.

The next day he went up there and pumped another 2 or 3 gallons out of the pan.  This unit is old, about 20 - 25 years in the first place and in the second place let me just say that our experience with central air, let’s see, oh yeah.  That would be ZERO.  So we kept an eye on it and on Monday shut it off and headed back to the city.

So now I’m standing there looking at the puddles, sleep still heavy in my eyes.  Husband is starting the coffee.  We go up in the attic and the pan has some water in it but not much and, oh, here is another pan next to it basically buried beneath the next section of the unit and if you lean way over and pull up the ductwork right on the other side there you can see the back half of the pan which is full of water and spilling out.

Husband brought one of the plumbing snakes so we tried, unsuccessfully, to maneuver it into the drain pipe blind.  He probing with the thing (no, not THAT thing) and I’m contorted over trying to guide him in verbally (left, back about a half inch, more left, oops, too far).  I’m sure you get the picture.  not THAT picture!  All we’ve managed to do is slosh more water out.

More cursing ensues and I start looking for a way to get behind the Octobox.  By now I have changed into long pants and shoes and after several false starts (and more contortions) I’ve determined there is no FRIGGIN’ way to get behind that damn thing.  The only way to the other side is up and over, through a space about 3 feet wide and 2 feet high and, oh yeah, about 4 feet high the ground.  

“It’s a good thing I’m little”, I tell Husband. 

“It’s a good thing you do yoga”, he says to me. 

While bumping my head against the wrong end of the nails poking out of the roof and halfway through the contortion I’m thinking I might have to up my yoga practice to more than just once a week.

So now I’m standing on the other side of the behemoth balancing on a ceiling joist with a rafter clamped between my thighs to keep me from falling through the ceiling, bent over, trying to hold the flash light and maneuver the probe into the hose and I haven’t even had any FRIGGIN' coffee yet!

More examples of short tempers trying to be held in check ensue.

I am finally able to empty the water out of the pan with a sponge and bowl shuttled over Octobox to Husband for emptying.  The snake will only go in about 12” so I start shoving duct work aside to see what is at that point.  There is a ‘T’ there so with some real effort, I pulled the offending hose off the ‘T’.

“It’s a good thing I lift weights” I tell him.

““Yeah,” he says, “I was afraid you wouldn’t be able to get them apart.”  And then we’d have to trade places.

I removed the ‘T’ and handed it over.  Husband pulled about 2” of what looked like wet compacted stuff (think soggy cigar) and handed it back to me.  I muscled the hoses back on the ‘T’ and then contorted myself back over Boxilla and down the steps into the kitchen.  I’m a total mess.  Besides the fact that I was sweating buckets up there, I was rolling around in rat poo, rat poison, bug parts, rust, insulation and the detritus of the last 25 years and I still had not had a FRIGGIN’ cup of coffee.  

Husband went to check the coffee, I headed for the shower.  When I got out, he was making a new pot of coffee.  It seems the cheap ass $10 coffee maker we bought for down here got confused about where the coffee was supposed to drip into.  It backed up in the basket and then over-flowed back into the water reservoir, grounds and all, but not a single drop was in the carafe.

Adding insult to injury, I managed to break one of the temples off my glasses while I was up there.  Granted they are your garden variety drug store magnifiers, but there were the only ones I had.

“You’re having way more fun than me” my sister says when she pops in for a minute just about the time I get my first cup of coffee. 

It was just 10 o’ clock.

The floor joist I was standing on, the rafter I had clamped between my legs and the ductwork that everything I needed to see and deal with was under.


  1. Oh dear! Too much for one morning... But the same things could ruin like four or five mornings - isn't it better this way?

  2. Amazing you kept your wits (& humor) about you without coffee!!

  3. Is this the edited version? Were you really that civil with the husband? I know I would have unloaded on mine. "You always hurt the ones you love....." and all that. We ahve those fancy dancy window units here. Such nice air conditioner hanhing off the front of the building!

  4. Well - I hope that it's working now - sounds like some gunk got cleared out, but I had trouble even imagining the twists and turns. Pretty daunting - good for you for sticking with it.

  5. Oh, dear, does this ever sound familiar. Last year, our air handler pan up in the attic somehow got at an angle and leaked a ton of water down onto our walk in closet, causing a major hole in the ceiling. Now we need a whole new airhandler. Upstairs unit doesn't work at all. Ug. The hole is patched with a plastic garbage bag. :P

  6. Oh my, you have my sympathy. The joys of home ownership? I hope it's all fixed and working soon!

  7. Aren't you glad none of the kids were with you!

  8. Sounds like an eventful morning. You are braver than me, I would not have gone up there, only because I think I may have killed my partner in the process! It sounds like you were very calm, although I'm sure his side of the story would be interesting ;0)

  9. You have more patience than I do!!

  10. Hate HVAC units....
    Love your story.....
    We share a name..
    and now, an experience...
    Looking forward to an update!

  11. Y'all are so brave, not to mention clever, to fix your own appliances. I wouldn't have a clue what to do, except call someone who knows how to fix these things. You're handy - and mighty! Thank goodness you're small, do yoga and lift weights!!


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