Our old wood stove saved us that night and the plumber managed to get it working the next day. But the waterheater kept showing ERR3 - which meant it wasn't getting hot water fast enough.
For a while, when we got ERR3, we could flip the switch that turned off the electricity and turn it on again, but it was happening more and more frequently. During the film festival I was regularly coming home to a chilly house.
The plumber was out several more times to tweak this and that. The last thing he did for us was lock the air vent open, "if it is closed, the heat won't fire up."
|Jon Replacing Pilot Assembly|
Yes, I was beginning to wonder if he actually knew what he was doing. I didn't know anything about heating systems (I know a bit more now) but I do know about problem solving and his method didn't seem right to me. Rather than thinking about the whole system and then identifying the possible problems and testing to eliminate the false leads, he seemed to be just trying this and that. Maybe he was just a poor communicator and he was really thinking a lot, but I don't think so.
Here's an example of not thinking beyond the immediate situation. He was replacing the water heater. He complained that there was a pipe placed so that you couldn't get the water heater out without taking the pipe off first. When he got the new water tank in place, instead of redesigning the piping to leave an opening for the water heater, he just put it back the way it had already been. When I asked about that, it was clear he hadn't even thought about it. He said, 'Yeah, I could have done that, but I just wanted to finish the job.' Later, when he had to play with that pipe again to put a pump on it, I suggested making the change while he was at it and he did.
So, a week ago today, flipping the switch after ERR3 wouldn't get the furnace to fire up. I knew the plumber was closed on Sundays, but I left a message and started the wood stove again. We caught it before the house had cooled down, so we were able to keep the house relatively comfy with the wood stove.
|New pilot assembly going in|
When I called the plumber Monday, they hadn't gotten the voice message. When I expressed some concern about the tech who'd been playing with our boiler all this time and how he didn't seem to be getting to the heart of the problem, the message came back through the receptionist from the owner that if I wasn't happy with the tech, maybe I should find someone else to work on it.
Really. That was the message. I'd already been getting to that decision. The company had come well recommended from a contractor friend, so I had given them the benefit of the doubt.
|Jon taking off old gas valve|
I called a friend who'd recently had a new heating system installed and got a name of another company that had 'Heating' in the name.
Jon and I talked when he got here. He asked me questions and finally said that it could be one of two things:
1. The pilot assembly or
2. The gas valve
Since the pilot assembly was cheaper, he tried that first.
We went twenty four hours before we got ERR3. Flipping the switch got the heat back on. Called them back and Jon was out that afternoon with a gas valve.
It's been 48 hours now with no problems. I'm waiting for two weeks before I declare a victory. But I did let the wood stove burn out and cleaned out the ashes. It was a wonderful heat that came from the stove and it could go all night on two logs.
|Reconnecting gas pipe|
So, I hope this might be of help to others. While heating systems are reasonably complex with their mix of mechanical and electronic equipment, they aren't all that complicated and people who work with them should be able to solve the problems fairly quickly.
|Screenshot form Pex Supply|
I thought about using the names of the two companies. I don't think the first company was conning me to keep getting business. A lot of the trips I wasn't charged for. I just think their tech wasn't much of a problem solver and the small company was in a bind and that the owner just doesn't know what to do either - in this case how to deal with a decent, but not real good tech.
And we've been dealing with problems with the heating system for so long now - at least a year - that I'm not ready to say things are all settled until it's been a lot longer.
But if anyone in Anchorage wants to know names, just email me.