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Posted on Tuesday 18 January 2011 at 10:54 am

Heater Woes

In early December, my heater in my rental house started acting funny. It would run for a few seconds, cut off with a loud click and be off for a few seconds, run for a few seconds, etc. in this continual loop. It didn't really bother me because the house was still staying pretty much at the temperature we wanted, but I was worried that it might be screwing with the gas or electric bill and might either presage or cause more serious problems with the heater. So I called the landlord. They said it could do damage to the unit and to turn it off immediately and they'd have someone come out to fix it. Several hours and a steep drop in the temperature in my home later, I finally got to talk to the actual repair man and he said he couldn't make it until the next day. When I informed him that the heater was off per the landlord's company's order, he said that was ridiculous and to turn it back on. I did and it appeared to work perfectly at first but after maybe an hour or two it started its thing again.

When the man arrived the next day, he turned off the unit, looked at things, and said he thought it was just that the cover was loose and that would trigger a safety mechanism. I explained to him that I did not think that was the case as the cover he referred to hadn't been touched in the year and a half we'd been in this house, hadn't caused any problems previously, and had just been inspected by the man from the gas company a few weeks prior. He said he really thought that was the problem, banged on it a bit, turned the unit back on, and it worked. He said if he told the landlord it was just the cover, they'd make me pay for him coming out, so he'd tell them he had replaced a cheap little part so they'd pay for it. I told again that I wasn't convinced the problem was solved and that it had worked at first the previous night but then had problems again. He said he'd stick around to see, waited a few minutes, then left. Within an hour it was having problems again.

I again called the landlord and they said they'd send the same guy. He called and said he was on his way back from North Carolina and would come when he got back. While I was waiting, the thermostat started flashing that it was low on batteries. I called him and asked if this might be the source of the problem and he said it could be and to replace the batteries and call him back. I replaced the batteries, it worked fine for about half an hour and then started having its same on-and-off problems. I called him to tell him this so he said he'd come on out. He called late that night and asked if he could come the next day because he just got back. I said I was getting on a plane to fly to Texas the next day, but I'd have my roommate call him in the morning to arrange a time for him to come.

When I got back, the heater appeared to be working just fine. My roommate wasn't home so I assumed everything was fixed. When he got back, he told me that as far as he knew it had never been fixed. He said the man came out once and at that time, the pilot light had gone out. Apparently my roommate didn't know about that, so the guy lit the pilot, said that would fix all the problems, and left. Of course that didn't fix all the problems because the pilot light had been on 99% of the time we'd been having problems. So my roommate again called the heater guy and he said he'd come but didn't show after a couple of tries with my roommate waiting all day. They gave him grief about having sent someone out three times already (wrong, he'd only been here twice) and the problems being the cover off, the batteries, and the pilot light which were all things we should have dealt with (which were obviously never the problems and the heater guy never dealt with the batteries, I did it all), and basically said they weren't sending anyone. At some point in all this, I'm not sure when, they had him try having the heater set at 80 for a couple of days which didn't do anything. I suspect that was when the pilot light was out and hopefully won't hit our gas bill too much, but I'm afraid of what it will do to our electric bill since it would have been trying to blow air 24/7.

When I got back, the pilot light was out so the temperature in the house was 40. I lit the pilot and the week or so I've been back, the heater has been working fine. It started its nonsense again today. It doesn't do it all the time, but it is still sometimes doing the off-on-off thing. It never did this last winter and I know it isn't right and it a problem of some sort but I don't know what to do at this point. If I call the landlord again, they'll just give me grief. I'm leaning towards doing nothing as long as the house is staying warm. My only concenr with that is that I don't know what this is doing to our gas and electric bills since it can't be terribly efficient. I don't care if it is going to do damage to the heater because at this point if the bloody thing breaks completely and has to be replaced, it won't be my fault and the landlord can just pay for it because I have tried and tried to report the problem and get them to get it fixed.
Feeling: Pissy
Exploring: Home Office

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