At number nine move 1/32 of an inch to the left

One especially frigid winter, I got a middle-of-the night call from a tenant saying how cold they were. Two boilers heat the apartments. They will not fire up until a fan goes on to bring in outside air for combustion. If the fan does not go on, the boilers will not go on, either.

Through trial and error, I discovered that if I tripped the electrical circuit for the boiler room, the fan would go on. Then the boilers would go on, and we had heat. Of course, that didn’t solve the problem. It was a band-aid.

Over the next months I would periodically call the electric company, but they no longer serviced the highly intricate motherboard of the computer that makes the fan run. I brought in a plumber. I brought in an electrician who spent much time trying to solve the problem. Perhaps three different times the electrician called the manufacturer to talk shop. We couldn’t believe he couldn’t solve it.

For perhaps a year, I limped along with the crazy flip-the-circuit trick. One time I even babysat the boiler through the night, taking notes of what kinds of lights were flashing at what intervals so that I could report all these symptoms. But when I called the manufacturer, they couldn’t interpret the problem.

Everything to no avail. Numbers of people thought I should just throw the system out and start over.

During that year, I was lying on my couch and praying, when the thought came, “Call the manufacturer!” I hadn’t even been thinking about the boiler-room problem. Furthermore, the electrician and I had probably already talked to the manufacturer four different times!

Only because the thought came to me while praying did I pay any attention to it. It was so illogical to call the manufacturer AGAIN. But I was impressed with this prayer-based thought. So I obeyed and called.

Then the most unbelievable thing: I was connected to a guy to whom I rattled off all the symptoms based on my notes. He replied as none of the others had replied to either the electrician or me, saying, “I know exactly what you’re talking about. Take a sharp-pointed object like an ice pick and go down to the motherboard, where you’ll see a list of tiny numbers. At number nine, take your pick and move it 1/32 of an inch to the left.”

That did it. It’s worked ever since.

Only prayer broke through the impasse, out of range of the experts’ knowledge.