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Old 04-24-2012, 07:37 AM   #1
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Check The Easy Things First

I learned a little lesson yesterday about Checking the Easy Things First. It saves time and most importantly, needless anxiety!

We were plugged in over the night at my sisters house and plugged into a 110 outlet. Having read much about use of air conditioners under these circumstances, we decided to just limit our power usage to a few amps to run the fan, refrigerator, water pump, light and TV. All went well and had a great night.

When I unplugged the 110 in the morning and went back into our Sport 16, everything was completely dead. Nothing at all. I started thinking and unfortunately, my thoughts turned to "what did I do wrong." I checked the battery connections, and then started thinking this had to be a problem with the power converter. It had been replace about a month ago and I figured it had just failed. Clearly no charging of the battery taking place. I tried to call our Airstream dealer to trouble shoot the problem, but we resigned ourself to a trip to the dealer about 2 hours away to look at why the new power converter failed.

As we drove away, I started thinking that it was just too fast for the batteries to run down with as little power as we were using. It just didn't make sense. We had 4 adults sitting at the dinette the night before and I started thinking maybe someone kicked the battery disconnect located under the table. I kind of said it out loud and my wife immediately said "I kicked something under there last night." We pulled over and sure enough, the battery was off and hence the reason that we had no power when I came off 110.

I guess the moral of the story, if there is one, is to always check the easiest things first before jumping to the conclusion that its a much bigger problem. Maybe it is, but if its not you have wasted a lot of time and energy blaming yourself and clouding your ability to rationally run down a troubleshooting checklist.
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Old 04-24-2012, 08:15 AM   #2
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This story reminds me of a "diagnosis" I made, early in my career. We had a VW Rabbit in the shop that would not start. I checked ignition and then fuel pressure. No fuel pressure so I checked the pump electrically and found that although the pump was running it made no pressure. "Well..." I thought "it must be a bad pump"!
Long story short.... The car was out of fuel!
Always start with the basics!!!
Bruce
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Old 04-24-2012, 08:27 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lubelg
I learned a little lesson yesterday about Checking the Easy Things First. It saves time and most importantly, needless anxiety

I guess the moral of the story, if there is one, is to always check the easiest things first before jumping to the conclusion that its a much bigger problem. Maybe it is, but if its not you have wasted a lot of time and energy blaming yourself and clouding your ability to rationally run down a troubleshooting checklist.
Long ago I was a field service tech fixing office machines. You have no idea how many time I traveled a couple of hours only to plug a machine in. That was even asking on the phone if they'd checked.
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Old 04-24-2012, 08:30 AM   #4
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LOL...good advice. I have a similar story involving the power switch for the converter during our first trip with our trailer.

I moderate the problems forum of a car forum, and I often see people coming up with really wacky explanations for problems, when 99% of the time those problems can be traced to basic issues - alternator, plugs, wires, fuel pump, etc.
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Old 04-24-2012, 08:32 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce B View Post
This story reminds me of a "diagnosis" I made, early in my career. We had a VW Rabbit in the shop that would not start. I checked ignition and then fuel pressure. No fuel pressure so I checked the pump electrically and found that although the pump was running it made no pressure. "Well..." I thought "it must be a bad pump"!
Long story short.... The car was out of fuel!
Always start with the basics!!!
Bruce
Too bad. Might have been cheaper to replace the fuel pump with today's gas prices.
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Old 04-24-2012, 08:36 AM   #6
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And remember, "When all else fails, read the manual." Learned THAT one the hard way, when my propane detector developed a fault and would put out one beep every 30 seconds for 3 days straight, even with no propane. No reset button, no obvious way to make it stop, no fuse in the fuse panel to pull, nothing. Naturally, that manual was one that the dealer didn't provide with my new Interstate, so I had to find it online and download it, once I had an Internet connection again. Come to find out, all I had to do was turn off the power at the battery disconnect, wait a couple of minutes, and turn the power back on. Problem solved!
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Old 04-24-2012, 08:42 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Protagonist
And remember, "When all else fails, read the manual." Learned THAT one the hard way, when my propane detector developed a fault and would put out one beep every 30 seconds for 3 days straight, even with no propane. No reset button, no obvious way to make it stop, no fuse in the fuse panel to pull, nothing. Naturally, that manual was one that the dealer didn't provide with my new Interstate, so I had to find it online and download it, once I had an Internet connection again. Come to find out, all I had to do was turn off the power at the battery disconnect, wait a couple of minutes, and turn the power back on. Problem solved!
I was fortunate enough to have learned trouble shooting by the USN. When you're a thousand miles from shore and the nearest part depot, and in the 1960s before satellite communications etc. The first step was to check front panel indications which included talking to the operator. I cringe when I see a mechanic take a customer's machine without asking at least a few questions.
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Old 04-24-2012, 09:55 AM   #8
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All funny and all so true. With me it was a chilly evening and I went in to hook up the electric space heater. Plugged it in and no 110. Checked breakers, tested outlets and just generally spent 20 minutes trouble shooting to no avail. Gave up and walked back outside when I remembered grandkid playing by the power supply. Sure enough, it was loose. Plugged the power cord back in and voila. Basics first.
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Old 04-24-2012, 11:07 AM   #9
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Help Desk Employee Fired

True story - A computer help desk employee was fired for rudeness to a customer. She'd called in and complained that her computer had stopped working all of a sudden. The help desk guy took her through several questions - blue screen of death on nothing? Five minutes into the call he asked her to get under the desk and make sure the power cord was plugged in.

She responded that she couldn't do it because it was too dark to see under there since the power was out and she wasn't near a window.

The tech advised her that her problem was very serious and that she should box up her whole computer in the original packaging and send it back to the vendor. When she asked why, he responded "Because you're obviously too stupid to own a computer! The power is out, stupid. Duh!"

As a call center owner I'm horrified by the tech's lack of professionalism, BUT Oh My Goodness Gracious! Power Outage! I also recognize the reason for his Knee Jerk outburst.

We all have our moments.
By the way,
Why IS the third hand on a watch is called the second hand?

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Old 04-24-2012, 12:40 PM   #10
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I didn't realize my Starbucks espresso machine was plugged in via a computer-style IEC power cord until tech support told me to make sure it was plugged-in... at both ends.

Love it when it is something simple.
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Old 04-24-2012, 03:31 PM   #11
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OMG! Laughing my butt off! Thanks Sis, I needed that!
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Old 04-24-2012, 03:44 PM   #12
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I'm an IT Mgr by trade and several years ago, on a Sunday, I woke up to an email from a project manager who was yelling at me. Copied on it were my boss, and his boss, the CIO.

The email absolutely blasted me for not doing my job because I didn't make sure everything was working when I left an offsite project office we'd set up on Friday. He couldn't print to the large format plotter and he had clients upset with him.

So I hopped in the truck and drove 40 minutes to the site, went in, slammed the laptop down on the desk, and spent literally 25 minutes troubleshooting a copier that didn't have paper in it.

A copier... that didn't have paper in it.
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Old 04-24-2012, 08:38 PM   #13
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I recently had a repairman out to the house because the gas fireplace in our bedroom (which was programmed to go on in the morning) had stopped coming on. I waited 6 months to call because they charge a fortune to come out and I didn't want to pay a big bill. I figured the thermostat was toast. Well, in 2 minutes he figured out that when i was dusting I had pushed the off switch on the side of the fireplace . I'm not gonna admit what I paid for him to flip a switch

Oh goodness, I just admitted to this publicly! Shush!
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Old 04-24-2012, 09:35 PM   #14
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Try explaining to someone that the 1/0 on a power switch is the same as On/Off...
or
In order for a vent to pass a leak test, no matter how many degree's you may have or how long you have been doing your job, you need to follow the instructions and block the end of the hose...
Yep, check the easy stuff first and read the manual if needed.
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