More adventures in plumbing

It’s no great secret that I’m an idiot. I prove it on a regular basis, including yesterday, when in an effort to save $250, I ended up spending close to $400.

Here’s what happened. Several weeks ago a plumber came out to the house we own on Capitol Hill (we rent it out) to inspect the HVAC system. All was well, he said, except for the “ignitor.” He turned a screw and pulled it out and showed it to me. There was a white streak down the middle and he said it had only a “few months to live.”

“How much?” I asked him.

“The part is $200. I have one in my truck. There’s no service charge, since I’m already here.”

Two hundred bucks for that little thing? That hardly seemed right. I did a quick search from my iPhone and found the part on Amazon for $35. Having seen him turn one release screw and unplug the device, I could tell replacing it was a cinch.

“No, thanks,” I told him, as I smugly bought the part on the phone.

The part arrived last week and yesterday I made it over to the house to do the quick replacement. I turned off and opened up the furnace. Spotting the screw, I realized my first problem. It wasn’t an ordinary screw. It was a 1/2″ hex screw and I didn’t bring my socket wrenches. Foolishly, I used a pair of pliers to carefully twist and remove the screw. Luckily, I didn’t strip it.

Then I started pulling out the ignitor. Instantly the flint shattered in the furnace. “Hmm, I guess it really was on its last legs,” I thought, still thinking I was smarter than the average bear.

I pulled it the rest of the way out and unplugged the device. With the new one in hand, I started pushing it in place. It didn’t fit. I twisted and contorted myself and the ignitor, carefully trying to slip it between the metal brackets holding it place.

Then it, too, shattered.

Insert string of swear words here.

As I contemplated my options, I noticed the plug on the end of the ignitor was a different type than the original. The fucking part wouldn’t have worked anyway. And now my furnace was nonfunctional.

No worries, I thought. I’ll just go to Home Depot and buy a new one. I angrily drove through the city and, arriving at Home Depot, looked for the furnace aisle. Not finding one, I settled on plumbing instead.

“Excuse me, sir,” I asked one of the employees. “Do you carry furnace ignitors?”

“Oh lord no,” he said. “Nothing like that here.” Hope dashed.

“But, you can try Ferguson Furnace.” Hope restored! “Although, it’s probably closed today, being a holiday and all.” Hope dashed.

I dialed their number. Turned out Ferguson was open. Hope restored!

“No, sorry, we don’t carry those,” the person on the other end said. Hope dashed.

She suggested another store. It, too, was open. Hope restored!

It, too, didn’t sell the part I needed. Hope dashed.

But, maybe yet another store would, I was told. Hope restored!

“Oh yes, we have those and we’re open until 6,” the man at the third store said. Hope elevated! Salvation in sight!

“Now, what company are you with?” Hope in peril.

“I’m not with a company,” I said. “I’m a homeowner.”

“Oh,” he answered. “We only sell to people in the trade.”

Insert string of swear words here.

Like a warrior sensing that the end was upon him, I finally succumbed.

I called the plumber and asked if someone could come out to replace the ignitor.

“Sure,” the helpful woman responded. “But, it’s going to cost you a special service fee, since it’ll be after 4, and there will be a 30% surcharge on the part.”

“Ok,” I said.

Insert string of swear words here.

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