Well, the good news is that we don’t need to replace the whole, nearly 40 year old, heater. Not yet, at any rate.
The service technician said he believed that the moisture came from a rusted-out metal drip pan for the A/C unit (which we had on yesterday, so it had water in it). This is apparently fairly common on older units, and ours is by far the oldest he’s ever seen. In fact, he’s never seen one like it before.
Since there isn’t anything keeping the heater from working at this moment, he suggested we leave it at that and have someone come back to dig into what can be done about it tomorrow – at normal service call rates.
We’ve had our heater turned off for a few days, due to nice weather. This morning it got down to 36F degrees outside, and it started to feel chilly inside, so I turned the heater back on.
After about 15 minutes, I heard a really loud bang, and then a weird noise that sort of sounded like the cats trying to get through the barrier to the laundry room door. Except the cats were both upstairs. So I turned on the light and looked, and saw water (or something) running all over around the heater. That was when I turned the whole system off, and after talking it over with my wife, we called an HVAC service company. It took 3 different calls, but someone called me back and said he could take a look – and their company rates are $98/hr. for after-hours service calls.
Sure we can afford it, by taking money away from replacing a window. I just wish that I hadn’t turned it on – because the afternoon high today is supposed to reach 73F degrees.