(You can ignore this post. I just felt like bragging.)
So, I told my son that I had turned the heat up a little bit (to 67 from 62 - Let's splurge, huh?) and then I took off for 4 hours of errands.
When I return, it takes me a while to notice, but the house is frigid.
He must have decided that my act of kindness was emmasculating or some such.
But, the house is just that little bit too frigid. I like the cold, but this is cold. Sure enough, it's 55, and the thermostat is actually closer to 70.
That's not good.
The heater might be 35 years old, so one is a little nervous. And winter has indeed finally gotten here. Poke things all over the place, and look for a big on/off switch in the off position, right? No dice.
When the thermostat's little mercury switch switches, there's no spark. There's always a spark when the mercury switch switches.
Disassemble the thermostat, looking for signs of broken or disconnected. Nope.
Disassemble all the electrical stuff at the heater itself and look for volts with the meter. There's no volts. Check the switch and the breaker. They're both on. Look harder for volts. Disassemble the switch. There's volts on one side, but not the other, no matter what position the switch is in. Turn off the breaker, and take the switch apart, and sure enough - infinite ohms with the switch off, and random, bizarre numbers of ohms with it on. The switch is bad.
Bypass the switch, and voila!
$30 for a new thermostat because I was less than polite when troubleshooting the 1950's model thermostat we had. I could have successfully gotten it all back together and working, but I've wanted a new one for a while. Besides, it's an excuse to get out, and I wanted to get out.
$2 for a new switch whenever I get around to it.
Being the only Dad my son knows who could have figured that out and fixed it, Priceless.
(And I should get bonus points for being able to use a pair of visegrips as a substitute for a thermostat to get the house back up to temp until I could get out and buy the new unit.)
(Finally, Ohio weather feels normal. -1 degree in the morning, and 3 inches of snow out there right now. And I got to drive in it three times. I have not lost the ability to drift yet. :-) The year is not complete unless I've gotten to change lanes sideways, and drop 'er in perfectly without ever letting the rear tires gain traction. It's the only time driving is fun any more.)