it’s getting hot in here (but don’t take off your clothes)

January 28 2014


You might recall the other part of the couple, the boy. I’ve been hiding in the shadows making jokes and finishing my masters. Since we’ve bought the house my mind has gone into high gear. So many things I want to do. Those all get shut down quick when none of my friends or myself can figure out why the heater in the house will not turn on. So I talked so several other friends and an electrician friend of mine.Turns out that some Air Handlers are NOT wired in directly to the homes power. It has an actual power cord just like your washer or dryer. It wasn’t plugged in and the wire was buried under insulation.

Before we bought the house, a stipulation of the purchase was that the entire house was rewired to update it to modern residential codes. Awesome. Except when the electricians don’t tell anyone how the HVAC was wired and didn’t try to fix it all. They just left it.

Challenge accepted.

The cord that the HVAC was using was spliced in to a very generic extension cord and the connection was just laying on the insulation unprotected. The cord was also too short because when the electricians added a new duplex outlet, they moved it another two feet away so the existing ghetto-rific cord wouldn’t reach.

new duplex distance

existing splice

existing cord

This turned out to be a blessing in disguise. After consulting my electrician friend he suggested that as long as the cord will not be any longer than three to four feet then the draw on a 110V 15AMP unit isn’t enough to be a hazard.

I’ve spent so much time and money at Home Depot the last few weeks I know where the break room is. And that they serve pizza. To bribe their employees into working during ice storms.

cord parts

I went and bought four feet of “SJ 12/2″ cable and a heavy duty 110V 3-prong plug and made my own cord. The plan was to wire it back to the unit and put the connections INSIDE the unit’s housing so it isn’t just sitting exposed in the attic at risk of touching combustible materials and starting a fire in my shiny new house.

This is pretty easy at this point. Make sure the breaker is turned off (that was Catharine’s job). Connect “white to white,” and “black to black,” and connect the ground (green) to something on the chassis of the unit. Note: black is the hot wire and white is the neutral wire. This is pretty standard practice. I exposed enough wire to wind them together and screw on a wire nut. I tried my best to expose as little as possible to prevent the wire from arcing on some other metallic object. The breaker would pop before anything happened but you never know.

exposed wired to be hooked up

wire coming out of unit

final wired to chassis

new plug in duplex

finnished project

Once everything was all buttoned up I plugged in the cord. I yelled for Catharine to turn on the breaker. No sparks or fire, ok good. I yelled for her to turn on the thermostat, motor turns on and the fan starts spinning up to speed. No sparks or fire, ok good.


I think I fixed it. I checked the cord to make sure it’s not heating up. I watched it run for a few minutes to make sure nothing looked weird. Then I turned it all off, unplugged it and put the housing back on and cleaned up all my toys tools. So far so good. The next HVAC project is installing a NEST thermostat.

I was lucky to have a retired electrician to consult before doing this. Please be careful when working with residential electrical. It can burn and hurt you. It can kill you. I’ve worked along several electricians over the years learning as much as possible. But nothing beats the security of a licensed, certified electrician. Be careful. Take precautions. Make sure your breakers are off and use a Multi-Meter to test the plug, switch, or light to make sure there is no power. DO NOT assume the switch turns off the power. I have been in a NEW house and the wall switch didn’t turn off the light’s junction box and I got shocked. That was not fun. Ok, PSA is over. Have a nice day.

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