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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Let There Be Light - and HEAT!

Steve and I both appreciate old antique light fixtures and lamps. We have quite a few interesting ones around the house, here and there. But we also know it's important to rewire them with up-to-code power cords, plugs and sockets.

Since we rearranged our livingroom to make room for the Christmas tree, Steve noticed the corner over my chair was lacking in any good lighting source.  Since I read, knit, spin or sew from my little chair, it would be a good idea to get another tall standing lamp. Steve has one over his chair, and we started to hunt for one for over mine. We wanted an old tarnished brass or bronze type on a base that hangs over and down. Not upwards or just a shade on a pole. I think they call them "Bridge Lamps" in some cases.

He found one in Fond du lac that a woman was selling on Facebook Marketplace.  We made arrangements to go and see it, 25 miles away.  She wrote back right before we were to meet up with bad news.  She went to get the lamp out of the basement and it was gone!  She didn't know that daughter had taken it!  We said we understood, we have grown kids too.  Sooooo back to searching.  This time we found one up in Appleton for sale in a cute little resale shop.  I had to run some errands, so I stopped by and picked it up. It had an ugly shade, that I left behind so they could resell that. LOL

Steve wired up a new socket, with a retaining screw on ring that could hold on a stained glass lampshade that we had in mind.  He put in new wiring in as well and shortened up the length of cord. It is going to be placed right near an outlet, so we didn't need six feet of cord sticking out around the base.

He was able to make it work again, and retain that original beauty.  
I love it when he makes things not only work, 
but work BETTER than we originally planned.

The little plastic knob turn switch was too modern, so we ordered some "socket keys" from Amazon.  They add that old fashioned flair and replace the modern plastic turning knob.  They only had them in bright brass, but a few dabs of deep gold magic marker and some dabs of brown varnish stain, they looks authentically OLD. We even put one on Steve's lamp instead the modern one he had on his.  

Now... for the shade! 

Five years ago we installed some lovely stained glass shades on our ceiling fan, and shades for 2 matching table lamps, then some matching pendants in the kitchen and a light fixture over the sink. They were all from Menards and were called "Belle" as the design name.   I looked at Menards online to order one more replacement lamp shade.  We robbed the one from the kitchen fixture to go on Steve's light, and we put an original copper one back in the kitchen.  It was okay to sacrifice one for his lamp. But we still needed to locate one more shade for mine.... and being the OCD quirky matchy-matchy person that I am, I wanted one that matched! 

Menards website didn't have them. 
I called the store. 
They told me to call Patriot lighting.  
I called them.
They said no, they can not sell me just a shade.

They said that I have to go to the store and custom order it (to the tune of $32 plus shipping)   ....  off to the store I went.   I showed the clerk what shade I wanted, like this fixture in the store in Appleton.  But this fixture has larger 10" shades. Ouch.. They wanted $55 plus shipping to order one replacement shade in that size. I had only paid $20 for the whole lamp and $8 for the socket.  This was getting expensive. $$$$

All I really needed was one smaller 7" shade....

The nice clerk looked on her computer.  Then she called the supplier. Sadly, they no longer carry the 7" pendants or 7" wall sconces with the size I need that match, they have been discontinued.  Dang! 

I went home.  On a whim, I called the other Menards store in Fond du Lac.  Just asking if they had one of the discontinued Belle fixtures that I could buy the whole thing...  well.....  that clerk said no more fixtures.  But ... but ... but...  he had ONE shade in the back that had been ordered for someone or their store display or whatever and it had been sitting in the back for over a year!  He said I could have it for the mere price of FIVE DOLLARS!!!!     I said please hold it for me, and I drove on down to nab that shade as quick as a wink! I also got groceries and a treat from Festival Foods that I will talk about later on down in the blog. 

Steve screwed it onto the new socket and fixture....


Now each of our recliner chairs has a stained glass lamp (that match!) over each seating area.  It is so nice to have these smaller lights over the chair than using the big overhead light at night.  Especially if he is watching a movie and I am knitting or sewing something, or even typing a blog! 

Let There Be Light! 


Now we need to talk about the other part of my blog title, the HEAT!

In our vintage home, we have a much older furnace. It was installed in 1986.  We know it can be considered as "on borrowed time", but it's very efficient and operates well.  Our most expensive heat bill to date for natural gas was $86.54 and that includes the gas for our water heater and gas fireplace as well.

We had the furnace inspected last fall and they said it was a very high end furnace at it's time and the longer we can keep it running, we are better off keeping it than replacing it.  That sounds good to us. As long as the heat exchanger is fine, keep it going.

We noticed three times this year (and once last year) it would shut down for no reason at all.  To reset it, we would pull the thermostat off the wall, turn off the furnace, reinstall the thermostat and it would fire back up and work just fine.

Since it only happened a few times, we were considering it might be the WIFI thermostat which was only a few years old.  The thermostat readout says the furnace is functioning just fine, but the furnace is actually shut down.  So we replaced the thermostat.  Nope... .didn't help. It still shut down once again.  This isn't a problem if we are home. But... if we leave for more than one day, like weeks on end for a vacation, this is going to be a problem!

Steve figured, the next step would be to throw in a new control board. Sounds good. But... these boards are discontinued, and the new replacement boards need a retrofit kit and a lot of wiring changes.  These newer style boards are in the $400-500 range from a furnace repair company, plus the labor to put one in.  ACK!

Here is the old board.....

Steve found one with the retrofit kit on Ebay that was used for diagnostic purposes from a furnace repair place in Illinois... someone bought up all their gear when they closed and were selling it on Ebay.  We bought it for only $39 and free shipping.  Sounded good to us.

We set to work on replacing the board ourselves.  And yes... Steve even read the instructions, because there were 12 pages on how to do it!   We carefully tagged each wire and plug before removing them, and taking good close up pics with my cell phone to boot.  Steve was the master wire guy, and I was reading the instructions, making tape tags, and handing him tools.

We had our Supervisors on site as well.
They never like going in the basement, 
but since we were down there,
 they decided it was better to be with us than upstairs alone. 

After about half an hour, and 37 wires later, 
the new board was totally in place! 

Rut Roh....  no go!   We tried to fire it up, and only the inducer motor would work, spinning wayyy too fast and not firing up the furnace.  We shut it down and bit the bullet and called a furnace guy.

He couldn't come that afternoon, but said he would be there the next day before noon. Since we have a gas fireplace and electric space heaters, we COULD make it through the night and not have to pay emergency service fees to them come the same day.  So that was fine with us.

Steve and I decided that since it was getting down to about 5 degrees overnight, perhaps we should just yank out the new board and re-install the old one.  Yup... made sense.  So 15 minutes later (takes less time the second time you do something)  we had the old board back into place. Fired up right away and we had heat overnight!  YAYYYYYYYYY

The next day, the nice service guy came by.  He said first of all, putting the old board back in is a good idea.  And before he would even think of swapping the board, he had a hint for us.

He showed us the end of the plastic drain pipe for the condensation had not been cleaned in a long long long time.  There was gunk coming out the end of it.  He stuck his finger in the end and said this is the problem.

He said the furnace shuts down to protect us because that pipe and housing is clogged up with gunk from years of use.  (we never cleaned it in 6 years because we never had this kind of furnace before and didn't know it needed to be done)   I am pretty sure the elderly widow never cleaned it either.

When it's clogged up, the two pressure switches will fail to operate, the inducer motor will spin faster trying to get the pressure switches to work, and the whole system shuts down to save the furnace. (thus our DEAD furnace every once in a while)

He showed us what to do, but to get the pipe and housing out, it involved dropping the whole control panel box, removing some clamps and hoses, just to get the housing and pipes free to clean them.  Instead of charging us for all that labor, he said he was pretty confident that we could do it ourselves.

He only charged us a small diagnostic fee... and said he would waive the fee if he had to come back within 30 days.  So if our cleaning out the housing and pipe doesn't work and if it still continues to shut down we can call him back. 

He left and we went to work dismantling things to get that big black plastic housing out and the pipe connected to it.  Yup.....  just look at all the crap that was in there!

We put it all back together and lo and behold... it works!  The old board, the old thermostat and the cleaned out pipe and housing!  The inducer motor sounds slower, the furnace sounds quieter and it is functioning just fine now for the last five days.  Keeping the fingers crossed that we solved the problem.  We have HEAT.  Let's hope it's reliable.  We will see.  If not, we know who to call.


I stopped at Festival Foods in Fond du Lac on my errand running and picked up a seasonal treat. They only carry this during the holiday season. It's Tom and Jerry Batter.  You heat up a mug of water in the microwave (the mug is from my friend Vicky)  then you add a few scoops of the batter, a shot of brandy or whiskey and sprinkle some nutmeg on top. It's a thick frothy eggnogish drink that is perfect in the winter months.  Some people add a stick of cinnamon or a peppermint stick to stir it with.

Here is the label from the container: 

This one is in a mug from 
my friend Juanita.

by the end of the week, I will need to get another container of batter! 

1 comment:

  1. Love the lamps and shades. As for the furnace is sure is important to find an honest guy. I went a full winter and half of another because I was told by 2 companies I needed a new furnace. by the second half of winter 2 I finally was able to afford a new one. But my daughter called her friend and he came right over, and the furnace lit right up. It needed a slight adjustment and a new part which luckily he was able to find, all for $100.


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