Home Repairs and Nest

A little different than the normal tech posts I do, I am going to talk about the week of repairs I have done on my parents house. I came home from college, to find many little items needing fixing around the house. Including the broken dishwasher, now back in January I had a broken drier that after a afternoon with a voltmeter I found the broken part and fixed.

Dishwasher

Being that the dishwasher is over 10 years old with no warranty on it, I thought I would attempt repairs before telling the parents we need a new one. The system was not draining, so I got out the wet dry vac and cleaned all that out. Thats when I learned that it also was not filling and the circulation motor was not working. I am now much more informed of the entire system of my model dish washer, to say the least. I have found in repairing these appliances, and other installations such as the Nest, taking a lot of photos with my phone along the way helps; for if I have to recall which wire goes where, a photo is a life saver.

First I wanted to fix the motor because it smelled like it was burning itself out trying to work. It turned out that several whole almonds had made their way down into the drive of the circulation motor and were causing it to not spin. After several minutes with a screw driver they were removed and the motor was working again. Next water was not entering the system, I ended up replacing the intake valve using my local appliance store (marcone.com, I mention the name simply because of the great service they gave me). The final touch that got the machine working was filling the bottom with a gallon of water and a splash of vinegar. Now the machine is working and running several cycles to make sure it will stay happy for the foreseeable future. The last part I need comes in tomorrow, it is the “non-return intake valve”; a part that makes sure water that is expelled from the system does not return. The old one disintegrated over time.

Nest

Now that we don’t have to clean dishes from hand, I got a new toy for the house. The house was built in 1945, the land used to be a victory garden, and has used the same thermostat for the last 20 years. The house has a heat pump, as well as a oil burning furnace; for this house the furnace is much more efficient on a dollars basis. The problem with ever replacing the thermostat to a new model was that with the two stage heating we didn’t know which models would work with all the settings the old thermostat had. After going through the compatibility checker on the Nest website it said our system would work. And I took it upon myself to try a self installation. In theory the Nest should save power (the internet seems to say it can go up to 20%) as well as give us more convenient control over the system.

Below are some photos of the old Honeywell thermostat, before I did anything I cut power to the house to make sure nothing was live. As I removed the plate of the old thermostat, the wires were clearly labeled. The Nest came with stickers to put on each wire while disconnecting them. Then I just had to put the Nest base in, put all the wires in the holes and turn the power back on. Some of my wires did not have matching places to put them on the new system, but after a quick Google search, I found answers on Nest support forms. The setup was fairly simple, yet I had to go in and tell it what the different wires did and what heating/cooling systems the house had. Over all the setup was not too difficult, just a little nerve racking changing the center for climate control in the house.

The Nest rebooted several times with updates once on the Wifi. One feature my father was insistent on was that it never activate the old heat pump and always use the oil furnace, the online Nest tool let me change this setting easily. So far the system has worked well, but with it being around 70F most of this week we have yet to give it that much to do. If this system works well we may exchange other thermostats in the house for Nests as well. The newer part of the house has radiant heating and in theory Nest knows how to handle that efficiently. I will post some updates as time goes on, I am interested to see how Nest does with the big old house, and the power bill; once it gets up and running it gives power reports for the house, these will be interesting to see.

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