October 8, 2007
I learned an important lesson this weekend. If your life partner asks if you think it’s okay to shut off the central air for the winter, say no unless it’s already snowed or else make sure you know exactly what to do to turn it back on, because otherwise you will find yourself sweltering in near record-breaking October heat when your life partner leaves for a weekend of kayaking in the Cellphones Don’t Work Here mountains.
I knew Mr. Karen had shut the air conditioner down. I knew it was going to be very hot this past weekend. I knew that I, a delicate flower, would want the AC. I thought I knew how to start it back up. I was wrong about that last point. It’s not as simple as uncovering the unit in the back yard and flipping the thermostat to Cool. I felt very clever when I figured out the switch mounted to the house next to the AC unit (push in the latch at the bottom of the unmarked grey box, slide the cover down and swing it out, pull out the black unit inside and flip it around and put it back in). I felt much less pleased with myself as the temperature in the house kept rising. The house fan cycled, but the AC fan and compressor didn’t. I checked the circuit breakers in the basement and flipped the ones marked air conditioner off and back on. Still no cooling.
I tried reaching Mr. Karen Saturday night, hoping I’d catch him eating dinner at a restaurant in some town which has a cell tower but wasn’t surprised to go direct to voicemail. I turned to the internet, source of all knowledge, and found this article, which would have been helpful if I hadn’t already found the unmarked box with the switch inside. I didn’t think taking the unit apart was something I should be doing or something that should even be necessary so I looked for other articles but found nothing helpful. I gave up and retreated to the basement, where it took a while for me to cool down and start feeling less miserable. Fortunately the outside temperature dropped enough as the evening went on that I was able to use a window fan to get the bedroom upstairs to a tolerable state by around midnight. I was very glad I didn’t have to sleep in the basement with the spiders.
Sunday morning I got as much stuff done upstairs as I could before I started to melt, at which point I went back to the basement with my knitting and my book and my iPod and a beverage. By mid-afternoon I’d had enough of sitting on the uncomfortable chairs down there and decided I’d go read at the library. That turned out to be a bad idea, as the library was having a renovation celebration. Instead of being the comfortable, quiet place it usually is, the library was full of noise and balloons and noise and children partaking of sugary snacks and did I mention the noise. The grocery store full of weekend shoppers was more relaxing (and oddly, also had a comfortable chair—a leather recliner for sale in the seasonal aisle; not sure how I would have gotten that in my cart even if I did think buying furniture at the grocery store was a good plan). When I got home, I didn’t check phone messages because the answering machine is upstairs and upstairs = hot, so it wasn’t until a few hours later that I heard Mr. Karen’s voice telling me there were two switches in two boxes outside that I needed to turn on before the AC would work.
Two switches?!!!?? Why the heck would there be two switches for one piece of equipment? And why would the second one be nowhere near the actual air conditioner? And why had none of the articles on the internet mentioned there might be more than one shut-off? (Because no one who’s written about this online lives where they have this goofy electrical code is what I now figure is the answer to that.) Sure enough after I found that second switch and flipped it around I had sweet, cool air coming out of the vents. It was a little late to salvage the weekend but we still need the AC, if only for today. Forecast high: 89 F. Tomorrow: 74. Wednesday: 58. I think I need to go live in a cave where it’s comfortable year ’round, because that forecast makes me feel a little crazy.