Saturday, December 11, 2010

Air Handler Roasting on an Open Fire...

Well, the "fun" I referenced from last week. Oy.

We put Shelby to bed and settled in for some Monday Night Football. A smoke detector went off upstairs followed by another and another!!!! What the what??!! Most residential smoke detectors have a wimpy beep. These alarms sounded like the second missile key had been activated. Needless to say, Shelby was completely freaked out.

Upstairs had a horrible burned electrical smell, but no smoke. I quickly checked the outlets I could find for char or smoke. Nothing. I was standing under the air vent in the hallway and the smell was pouring out of it. At that point, I told Scott to call the fire department. Was the attic on fire? The ducting? We just had a very damaging fire at work and I wasn't taking any chances!!

Not one, but TWO fire trucks came to our house on the quiet cul-de-sac in the quiet neighborhood with lights everywhere. Two firemen came up to the house with oxygen tanks on backs and axes in hand. Good Lord. They checked out the attic and the upstairs and found nothing (thank goodness!).

The younger fireman was asking me (only slightly condescendingly) if the smell was a burnt dust smell. I told him, "Look. I work in a factory. I've worked in maintenance for 7 years. I know electrical burning things. I don't like them. That's what we've got up there!" He gave a quick nod and said, "Got it."

They went down and popped the panel on the upstairs air handling unit. The wiring was black, charred and mostly missing! Found it! Luckily, it was contained to the air handler. The firemen told us to bundle up and sleep downstairs. With all the firetrucks outside, Shelby was in heaven! When they went to leave, she was upset. I told her they needed to help another little girl and she emphatically said, "NO!" I guess they were her personal firemen now!

We brought Shelby's mattress down to the guest bedroom and I convinced her it was like taking her nap at school on a mat. She bought it for a while. I slept out on the couch until she work up at 12:30. After trying to get her down for an hour, we ended up sleeping together on the couch. My daughter "sleeps large," so it was pretty miserable. It was like living with a newborn again!

The next day an electrician was able to rewire the unit and we were back to normal!!! They found a loose wirenut that caused the wires to short, arc and catch on fire. We had the downstairs air handler replaced during the inspection when we bought the house. Guess it was only a matter of time for the other one!

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