Friday, December 18, 2015

Living By The Scientific Method

It's funny, the things that happen in your life that have an impact.  I try my darnedest to remember some things and can't retrieve them from my memory bank no matter how hard I try.  Then there are other things that I remember for no good reason at all.  Don't laugh now, but I remember learning the scientific method in seventh grade.  Without realizing it, I use it often.  In fact, I used it today.

I think I missed my calling in life.  I should have opened a business called "Barb's Small Appliance Repair".  Yes, I just saved another small appliance from the dump.  This time it was a small inexpensive humidifier.  As winter approaches in Wisconsin, we switch from dehumidifying the humid summer air to adding humidity when the furnace dries out the winter air.  It was time to run a humidifier in our bedroom.  I retrieved it from the basement and set it up.  It ran all night, but when I got up in the morning, I stepped on wet carpet.  The darn thing was leaking.  This is where the scientific method comes into place.  That is a better approach to saying "What the H...".

1.   Ask a question:

 Why was our wet carpet?

2.   Do background research:

Ask husband if this had happened before.  Look to see if the wet carpet could have come from another source.

3.  Construct a hypothesis:

First I looked for possible causes of the problem.  Since we don't have a pet to pee on the floor and the carpet was wet under the humidifier,  I hypothesized that either the unit was leaking or the mist was condensing on the floor.

4.  Test your hypothesis by doing an experiment:

I split the humidifier into two sections.  The first was the water tank itself.  I added water and set it on the counter.  A half hour later I checked for leakage.  No water had leaked out of the tank.  Next I put water in the base unit and followed the same procedure.  Walla, a large puddle of water appeared on the counter.

5.  Analyze your data and draw a conclusion:

Since the water leaked out of the base unit, I concluded that is where the problem was.

 6.  Report your results.  Was your conclusion correct?

Since I knew the source of the problem, I looked for a way to examine the unit.  I saw six screws were holding the plastic lower section to the upper section of the base.  I got a screwdriver and removed those screws.  The bottom came off easily.  Inside the unit I could see there was only one place where water could be leaking through.  It was covered by another plate secured with three screws.  I removed those screws and saw a small disk surrounded by a gasket.  I loosened the gasket and cleaned some lime deposits and grit from it.  I reassembled everything.  I figured I hadn't dried the unit out completely when I put it away last Spring.  The water had evaporated and left the residue.  I tested the humidifier again.  I filled it with water, and I turned it on.  Everything looked good, but just to be safe I put it on a rubber mat.  The kind you put wet winter boots on.  In case it leaked, the carpet would remain dry.  I ran a whole gallon of water and everything is fine. 

Who would think that lessons I learned in seventh grade would help me in life.  Without realizing it, every problem can be solved this way.  It eliminates knee jerk reactions and second guessing.  In most things the process is quick but for more difficult things it is a logical approach to decisions.  At least it works for me.  Some people thrive on drama and the excitement of the unknown.  The jump in with both feet approach works for some, but not for me and I have a $30 humidifier that didn't get thrown into the land fill.

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