2022.07.17 Joys Of Home Ownership

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Amy and I love our house, because of how perfectly it fits us and the kids, with a great walkable neighborhood, and a huge list of facets that make it lovely. Except, as every homeowner knows, houses are not static entities - they're a constant grind of repairs and improvements fighting against the endless tide of entropy. And when we bought The Battery (nickname brought to you by a dubious concatenation of initials) there was one big upgrade we intended to do: solar panels.

It took a little while to arrange, but we settled on the Tesla solar system with a powerwall battery backup for the house (and a grateful nod to the federal 10k$ tax rebate to make it happen). Significant delays were incurred as we waited for planning and approvals, but finally we had the system installed! Except, not yet commissioned because it needs final inspection for powering up by PGE (our local power utility). Annoyingly, PGE never got around to upgrading our service meter to allow for 2-way power delivery, but the resourceful installers at Tesla installed a parallel meter system that should work. However, this required completely re-wiring our breaker box - and it got pretty cramped. Still, everything worked just fine - or so it seemed.

A couple days later, apparently some yahoo crashed into a power pole a couple blocks away. This knocked power out for the neighbourhood, but also sent a power bump at the same time. The powerwall tried to cover for the lost power, but encountered problems. The problem became clear when the main power came back on later that day - three of our circuit breakers were unable to be reset. Along with it we were down the section of the house that powered the internet modem, our furnace controller, and dishwasher.

Some frantic calls to Tesla later, we were told they would get to us as soon as possible - after the weekend. So we limped through a warm weekend without AC, washing dishes by hand, and running an extension cord to power the modem. Monday came, and they verified that the breakers themselves needed replacement. But they could not get parts until the next day - but they could re-purpose one of the working breakers to run whichever circuit was needed to make the HVAC work again. So by trial and error it was determined that it was... none of them. Something else was wrong with the HVAC, and the dishwasher.

After the technicians left, we did some frantic research on what could be amiss. Everything we could find was fine - breaker on, reset switch reset, circuit board fuse was fine. So thought we had deduced that we had fried our smart thermostat controller. I rolled to the only store locally claiming to have the same model, so that I could just plug-and-play a replacement, and they didn't have one. They did have an upgraded version, though that required re-wiring the controls. Screw it - whatever. Bought it, installed it. Still didn't work.

We hoped that it was a combination of a fried control unit AND an unpowered circuit. Those hopes ended when the Tesla technicians showed up bright and early and replaced power to the whole house. Still no joy for the HVAC, or the dishwasher. They were not really permitted to do anything beyond the power distribution system, but did us the favour of testing the high-voltage fuses for the AC - which turned out to be blown.

So we went to an electrical supply store to purchase some replacement shotgun-shell-sized fuses. And the HVAC still didn't work. So we were left with having to call HVAC technicians, and the earliest available appointment was two weeks out.


Luckily, Pyramid Heating & Cooling called a couple days later to say that they had a cancellation, and they could come immediately. Well, not immediately - because it was the afternoon and since our furnace is in the attic it would be horrific. But they did swap us with another customer the very next morning.

In the meantime, we got to work on the dishwasher, with the working assumption that it had a fuse of some kind that was also borked. So we disconnected it and pulled it out to find that it has no such protection feature. Time for a new dishwasher. Which was fetched in the uber-charming wee van, to the delight of the Home Despot workers who helped us get it. Which in itself is a minor miracle, because it turns out that Home Depot doesn't stock appliances - except that happened to have accidentally been shipped the exact one we wanted. Which was fun. Brought it home, installed it, and it works great.

Pyramid technician shows up and listens to our tale of woe. He said, "I have an idea". A few minutes later, "YEP - your transformer got burned out." Replaced it handily, and our HVAC comes to life and was working great. The feeling of relief was a welcome change.


Which lasted for a few days. Then yesterday we noted that the AC was not actually able to cool the house. We futzed with sensors and settings, but the awkward truth is that it is running the AC and the blower fan and we're getting an insufficiently-cool draft.

Time for another call to Pyramid. When they open on Monday. GAH.

UPDATE: It turns out it was a blown 440V capacitor for priming the condenser compressor. Easy fix - for the skilled technician from Pyramid. Now if only Tesla/PGE would complete the final inspection to let us turn on the solar array...