A Lizard in the Works

Yeah, the title is a tip-o-the-hat to “Spanner in the Works” but it’s also just what happened. I’ve been crabby all day because I barely slept a wink last night after a short night the previous night. I’m sore, tired, and miserable. So what’s the story? Ah, yes, glad you asked.

Last night, around 9ish, I noticed the AC was running still — unusual as hell. I also noticed it was warm but chalked it up to my tiredness. Around 1030 or so, it was still running, and I was still warm, so I went and checked ye olde thermostat. A blistering 74 degrees and rising — I can’t sleep much above 70 or so. I stuck my hand in front of the AC vent and it was warm.

Normally, I’d open my window but in this neighbourhood we’re near the city dump and they incinerate at night and the smell is horrible. A nice 68 outside and no way to let the air in. I turned on the fan wondering why my AC is plagued with glitches. I fell asleep instantly mostly because at this point, I’m exhausted all the time and can barely function anymore. Within an hour, I’m up and sweating. And being a cat owner, all attempts at sleep include a fur coat whether I want one or not. I shed more clothing, all covers, and turn on the fan and though I doze in and out of sleep, it’s fitful and I’d probably have been better off not sleeping at all.

At 8am, I call Xelor (the AC repair folks with whom I have a service contract). I leave work early and meet them at home at 345pm. They check my unit, and the guy says, “your compressor isn’t coming on” — which is unusual since it’s not that old, so he removes the cover. Inside is one of those big industrial capacitors (think can of soda size and shape). He said, “there’s your problem” and pointed at a fried, dead lizard. I looked at him like he’s insane.

He shows me a new capacitor and the old one. “What happens is that if a lizard gets in and manages to touch all three contacts at once, it shorts out. The lizard and the capacitor fry. So your fan motor runs but the compressor won’t come on.” The old capacitor is bulging at both ends and burnt around the top. The lizard is crispy and could be served at your local Chilis or Applebee’s. He replaced it, and voilà it works!

(For those thinking my AC bill must be nuts because I can’t sleep at a reasonable temperature, I would like to report that I have a programmable thermostat. 78 whilst at work, 74 when I return home, 70 around 930 pm until 1am, then up to 72 until I leave for work. Weekends it runs at 76/72/70 depending on time. My AC bill is noticably less than it was before I got the programmable thermostat.)

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