We keep getting snow and it is to the point I don't have room for it on the diveway ends. Some warm days have caused a melt which refroze and have turned the sidewalks into sheets of ice. I have been fighting to break them out but it has been a difficult battle.
Eve was exhibiting some bad symptoms on the drive home from work. She was running really rough so when I got home I opened the hood to see if there wasn't something obvious. I'm no mechanic and opening the hood was actually just a long shot. The entire engine was vibrating heavily. So I turned off the engine and decided to check vitals. I pulled the oil dip stick, cleaned it, and pulled it again. Nothing. Not a drop on it. I ended up putting about 4 quarts of oil in the engine before she was where she is supposed to be. Afterward when I started the engine she purred like the pretty kitty she is.
While Eve sounded better, I had a serious problem on my hands. Why did she run out of oil? Why didn't I have any indication? And did I damage the engine? The shop down the street from me is where I always take Eve when I have these kind of questions and they scheduled me an appointment. Turns out the leak was from a broken switch on the oil line which allowed the oil to drip out steadily. I had them replace it as well as the seal around the head which they recommended. The shop said the engine doesn't seem to have any preferment damage and she should be fine. Eve Liberty is over 280,000 miles old, and I have no plans of retiring her until at least 300,000 miles.
The other day I noticed it seemed a little cold in the basement. That is nothing new as the basement is always cold in the winter. But when I went upstairs I noticed it wasn't much warmer. After some investigation I found the furnace wasn't producing any heat. I suspected two things: the thermostat and the ignitor. I hate thermostat we have. It kept claiming the batteries were dead when I new they were not, and refused to work with me. In time, however, I got the thermostat to turn on the furnace. I observed the furnace going through its start sequence but it never lit off. This is a classic symptom of no ignition. The problem I had was figuring out where the ignitor was located. It took me awhile of unscrewing various items to find it was buried behind the air intake pipe. Luckily, the pipe was not permanently in place and could be pulled away. After I moved it I removed the ignotor. It didn't look broken at first but after some tests I could tell it wasn't functional. Latter I did find a crack.
Knowing the furnace just needed a flame to get started I decided to try an experiment. With the igniter removed I sat beside the furnace with a propane torch. I figured I could manually ignite the furnace. The high efficiency furnaces use a blower to create a draft into which is fed natural gas. Because there is a draft being pulled I figured the igniter port should be acting as an intake. I waited for the furnace to go through the motions and when I heard the natural gas valve open I fired off the torch. Sure enough the furnace sprang to life. Sadly, the furnace didn't bring the house back up to temperature before it shut off. I think it must turn the gas off from time to time when the heat chamber is too warm, knowing it can just relite when it has cooled. Since it didn't have an ignition source, this wasn't possible. So we only got a little heat.
Now the question was how to get a replacement igniter. It was forecast to become very cold in the coming days. We called the number on the furnace for the people that installed it, but they are not open on Sundays. I found the part online for $16, and for an additional $4 I could have it delivered overnight. We turned the oven on warm and left the door open.
Today the replacement part arrived. It took just a few minutes to get it installed even being very careful not to break the new ceramic igniter. After assembly I watched the furnace run the startup sequence and after a minute of purge saw the bright orange glow of the new igniter followed by the sound of the natural gas lighting off.
I ordered a second ignoter to have on standby. Tomorrow is forecast to be rather cold, so I think we lucked out in getting this resolved before it would have been a serious problem.