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Cooler weather is heaven-sent

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The Lord has helped us sweat through an AC repair.

By Steve Doyle

If you don’t believe that the Lord works in mysterious ways – or even that the Lord is the lord – then I offer this testimony:

This morning at my house an air conditioner surgeon is scheduled to make his or her fourth trip to triage our injured unit. That happens. We all have experienced problems with our units.

But our H/VAC has been on some level of hiatus since, oh, July 15.

That’s three weeks in the middle of summer with little or no cool air circulating.

Have you checked the temperatures lately? Have you felt how unseasonably mild they have been? Have you been a little chilly when you walked outside in the morning and been moved to check the calendar?

That’s the Lord’s work.

Nothing else could have saved us from three weeks in a microwave. Praises on high.

But why did we need this heavenly help?

This began rather harmlessly one day when my wife says, quietly: “Honey, I don’t think the AC is cooling very well.”

My response is that it did seem to be running pretty much all the time. What I didn’t say was that I often was freezing – hence the sweatshirt I was wearing indoors.

I took a look at the unit – a rather new and large unit – and found it to be quite cold on the outside of the compressor. I reported this information.

A few days later, my wife says something less quiet, like: “I’m burning up, and I just don’t think the AC is working very well.”

Me: I’ll check that again. Seemed the same.

And when we returned from a week on vacation, the house felt reasonably cool.

But one day I started to feel a little sweaty.

And that’s about when my wife said: “Put your hand on that vent. Is it blowing out cold air?”

Me, well I’m feeling a little sweaty.

I scurried to contact our home warranty company, which led to an appointment the next day.

Out comes the tech and off comes the cover to the compressor. I’d never seen inside a compressor. There were a lot of cool copper coils – I can see why thieves like AC units for resale – and around them was enough ice to floor a small igloo. In fact, it sort of looked like an icebox the Waltons might have owned.

Technician: “Can’t work on it that way. It has to thaw. I can’t tell what’s wrong.”

Me: How long will that take?

Him: “Turn the temp up and leave the fan on, and it should be OK later today or tomorrow. I’ll try to stop by later today if I get back this way.”

Next day, I get a call for a new appointment.

Meanwhile, we switch the air on and off and keep the temp up, and the ice dissipates. The air is cool.

Second technician, holding a little gadget that makes funny noises like a Geiger counter near a conjunction of a few of those coils: “There’s your leak right there. That’s what’s causing the ice.”

I couldn’t see, hear or feel a leak, but when he moved that device over all those coils, the pitch of the noise did change. So I thought that thing was like the handheld Bones used in Star Trek to cure liver cancer and the Bubonic Plague.

He uttered those magic words: “We will have to order the part. We’ll call to set up a new appointment.”

Me: You mean not tomorrow. He looked at me like I had liver cancer or the plague.

For the next few days, we kept playing the game with the thermostat and the fan, and, you know what – call me stupid – but the unit started to cool properly. It didn’t have to be set at 67, and about 74 felt comfortable.

But about this time, two key things arrived to enhance our sense of urgency: The monthly power bill and my wife’s parents.

The former sent us into shock like eating too much sugar. The latter likely were wondering how their daughter and grandchildren were supposed to put up with this. Good question, but they were kind.

On the sort-of-last-day of their visit, the leaky part had arrived and a couple of repair people showed up. Only what I thought would be a small connector among the coils came in a box about the size and shape of R2D2. And these guys looked at me as if I had leaky coils when I asked kindly if this would take long.

I left the house before they did, and about three hours later, my wife got a call from her dad that said something like: They found a switch that won’t work, so they’ll have to get with the warranty people and come back.

One small fact was omitted from that report: Because of whatever switch that was, our working-fine-if-not-properly AC no longer cooled at all. Flows from vents became air-temp tepid.

Now I was sweating – cold sweating.

Our company left for a few days (planned), and the day of their scheduled return I called the repair folks and pleaded for cooler heads to prevail. Soon.

The part is on order because it was a warranty fix, the scheduler said. “We don’t know when it is going to arrive.” That was Friday.

Now I was sweating – cold sweating, if that were possible. Until, alas, on Monday, there was a call to arrange a new appointment.

So, as of today, we again should have cool air in our house. Our dog maybe can breathe a little more comfortably, and I can stop using so much antiperspirant.

At least, we will, Lord willing.