Category Archives: Technology

Anything with a slight relationship to technology. This includes (but is not limited to) new and interesting gadgets, software and toys.

Polaris Water Heater Error Code 1

Polaris Water Heater error code 1, also known as the Pressure Switch Closed failure.

The Polaris Water Heater has an onboard diagnostics system that will flash a red LED to indicate a fault. This LED is visible through a small window on the access panel near the bottom of the hot water tank. By referring to the Polaris manual, you can discover what each of the error codes mean and there’s also a nice flow chart that suggests what to check/fix.

Error code 1 indicates that the pressure switch has failed to close. What this means is the Ignition Control Module (ICM) is unable to test if there is fresh air coming into the Polaris water heater. Without fresh air, there can be no combustion.

Now, the flow chart in the user manual basically has one solution for error code 1 – replace the pressure switch. While that may be the final solution required, I’ve had a service technician from Direct Energy tell me that you should also check everything associated with the Polaris Water Heater Error Code 2 problem. I recently had this issue and the problem turned out to be a small piece of dirt had become lodged in the air inlet to the pressure sensor. Likely this bit of dirt was picked up from outside, through the air inlet pipe and worked its way into the valve.

Once the technician remove the clear PVC pipes, removed the bit of dirt and reconnected everything the hot water heater came back to life. He also mentioned that on newer Polaris water heaters there is an external air filter on the 3″ air inlet pipe so that small bits of dirt don’t cause issues like this.

So, if you currently have error code 1, try checking for dirt in the pressure sensor valves before making that expensive service call.

Google Delisted My Site – Now What?

Google delisted my site in December of 2008.  This was due to my site being in violation of the Google quality guidelines. As it turns out, my site had actually been cracked and hidden spammy links had been added a many of my pages.

Getting back into the Google index isn’t a quick thing to do.  It took almost a month before I showed up in the index again.  I did learn a few things along the way though and I’d like to share them with you.

Avoid getting delisted

The best advice I can give is to avoid getting delisted from Google.  Yeah, I know that’s pretty obvious but if you are trying to run a site to make money, getting delisted from Google can get you the coffin and all the nails required to seal it up. Getting delisted from Google sucks, especially if you are relying on organic searches to find your site. I watched my traffic from organic search drop by over 98% within hours of getting delisted.

Google Analytics graph showing how our visits were impacted by being delisted from Google

Here are a few things to help you avoid getting delisted:

  1. Monitor your site regularly
  2. Upgrade your CMS/Blog software as soon as an update/fix is available
  3. Use strong passwords and change them on a regular basis
  4. Monitor your site regularly

Yes, I said to monitor your site twice.  That was intentional and I’ll explain why.

Monitor your site regularly

If you’re not a full time blogger, you probably don’t login to your site on a daily basis.  Heck, if your like me and just blog for the helluvit, you’re lucky to login on a weekly or even monthly basis at times. It’s important to keep track of your site. One way to do this is with the Google Webmaster Tools. Once you register your site with the tools, you can see many useful things about your site.  The most important one in my opinion is What Googlebot sees. This provides you with a top 100 list of keywords that Googlebot has found on your site.

This is the one thing that I missed and what could have kept me from getting delisted.  Googlebot was seeing a bunch of strange terms on my site.  Words like popular drug names and related words.  I ignored those warnings signs as I couldn’t figure out where they were coming from so I assumed it was something Google had messed up.

If Googlebot sees something, it’s there.  You just need to look closer.

Google has a page My site’s been hacked, now what? that has a lot of different things to check on if you think your site has been hacked.

Upgrade Your Blog/CMS

Make sure you keep up to date on the latest version of your blog/CMS as older versions typically have exploitable security bugs.  This is what happened to me. I had been lax in upgrading to the latest version of WordPress because it was going to require me to change some minor functionality. In the end, the days and weeks I spent trying to recover my site and get back into the Google listings was much more time consuming than the 15 minutes or so it would have taken to upgrade.

Use strong passwords

I can’t stress this one enough. Having a simple password is just asking for trouble. Make sure that all users have strong passwords, especially any users with escalated privileges (like your admin account). There are numerous sites online that will generate a strong password for you. Also, tools like LastPass make it really easy to generate and use strong passwords.

Don’t forget to ensure your database also has a strong password. Lots of web hosting companies provide web based interfaces for your databases. If your database hasn’t been configured to only allow connections from specific IPs, anyone on the net can connect to it. The problem with this is a malicious person can take random guesses at your database host name and if you don’t have a secure password, they can guess their way into your database without even having to access it through your CMS.

Polaris Water Heater Error Code 2

Polaris Water Heater error code 2, also known as the Pressure Switch Open failure.

The Polaris Water Heater has an onboard diagnostics system that will flash a red LED to indicate a fault. This LED is visible through a small window on the access panel near the bottom of the hot water tank. By referring to the Polaris manual, you can discover what each of the error codes mean and there’s also a nice flow chart that suggests what to check/fix.

Basically, the Pressure Switch Open (error code 2) indicates that the Ignition Control Module (ICM) is unable to test the air pressure of the incoming fresh air to the unit. This is because it is unable to close the pressure switch to perform the test. Without fresh air coming in, the Polaris Water Heater cannot start a burn cycle as it needs oxygen for combustion. It also needs to ensure it can exhaust the gasses of combustion to prevent Carbon Monoxide (CO) buildup in the house.

The Pressure Switch Open failure is supposed to be a soft lockout (SL) fault. The IGM will try again in 60 minutes and if successful, the unit will resume normal operation.

There are three noted sources of this failure:

  1. There isn’t 24Vac across the pressure switch (no power)
  2. The clear PVC tubing is cracked or has some sort of leak
  3. There is a blockage in the inlet/exhaust air venting

There is now also a fourth possibility. As discovered by Steve, error code 2 can also be caused by frost buildup in low temperature environments (~ -28C or -20F ). There is a technical bulletin available for this issue which describes how to correct the issue. Steve was kind enough to forward the PDF to me that he received from the Polaris Technician.

Polaris Water Heater Technical Bulletin #5002 – Frost Buildup (PDF)

If you have a Polaris Water Heater from roughly June 2008 or newer, error code 2 can also be caused by a dirty air filter. The air filter is located in the air inlet pipe and can be removed for cleaning. An addendum to the Polaris Water Heater user manual is available on the John Wood Water Heater website:

Polaris Water Heater Addendum – Inlet Air Filter (PDF)

If you are still having problems, John Wood provides a form you can use for technical support questions. If you are a US customer you should use the American Water Heaters technical support form. Also note that American Water Heaters has a listing of some Technical Service Bulletins on their website.

Queensway (417) Carling Ave Bridge Rapid Replacement

The Queensway (Highway 417) through Ottawa will be closed for about 18 hours from July 30-31, 2011 to allow for the rapid replacement of the Carling Ave bridge. This has already been done twice before on the Queensway with great success.

When the Island Park bridge was replaced in 2007, I managed to capture images from a webcam that had been setup and produced a time lapse video of the Island Park bridge rapid replacement. I also managed to create a time lapse video of the Clyde Ave bridge rapid replacement in 2008.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to track down a dedicated webcam for the Carling Ave bridge rapid replacement that is happening this weekend. I guess this method of bridge replacement isn’t “new and exciting” anymore. :)  I was going to try and see if I could capture frames from the two nearby MTO webcams but this has proven tricky so far. I’ll update if I do manage to get something workable.

Anyhoo, if you’re interested in checking out the action between 6PM EDT on July 30, 2011 until noon-ish on July 31, 2011, you may have some luck with the MTO COMPASS traffic cameras.

Update: Well, I was away this weekend and didn’t manage to capture the feed from the MTO webcams but it looks like someone did:

Time of Use and your Base Electricity Usage

It’s been almost two weeks now since Hydro One switched us to the new Time of Use billing for our electricity usage. So far, we’ve been doing pretty good at keeping our heavy usage in the off-peak times. That’s mostly running the washer, dryer and dishwasher after 9PM.

What is more difficult to control is the base electricity usage in you house. That is the electricity that you need to run things like your fridge, deep-freezer, furnace, and any other “always on” devices that are required for the “proper” operation of your house.

To reduce your overall electricity bill, you should try to keep your electricity usage as close to your base electricity usage as possible. This post will explore some options.

What is your Base Electricity Usage?

Hydro One has a rather nice online tool that allows you to see what your real electricity usage is. The Hydro One My Account Time of Use Portal presents your usage in Hourly, Daily or Monthly graphs.This can be very handy for learning what your current base electricity usage is.

We just happened to be on vacation and I was able to capture the following information from the Hydro One tool for one of the days were were gone.

Graph showing our base electricity usage before conservation efforts.

Graph from Hydro One Time of Use Portal showing our base electricity usage before conservation efforts.

As you can see, we were using 14.20kWh for a day when no one was in the house, no heating was happening and no AC was on. That’s an average of 592Watts per hour! Needless to say, that is a rather high base electricity usage for when no one is around. As I mentioned in a previous post, before Time of Use pricing started, we paid approximately $0.122/kWh (plus HST) which means our total cost for a day with no one home was $1.96, or ~$715 a year!

Now, I knew something was really wrong with that average of 592Watts per hour so I got my trusty power meter out and started trying to determine what was consuming so much power. At first I was going to check the fridge and deep-freeze but then I realized that unless I’m going to replace them, there’s not much point. That will probably be a not-too-distant-future plan.  So, I focused on other items that consumed power and were left on while we were on vacation.

  • Dehumidifier – ~150W
  • HRV – ~160W
  • Standby Power aka Vampire Power – ~100W

Now, the dehumidifier and HRV are sort of necessary but they don’t need to run 24/7. I unplugged the dehumidifier (after seeing the 150W it consumed) and I also turned off the HRV. This is sort of a temporary thing which I will get into a little later.

As I mentioned in my Woods SmartStrip power bar saves money post, I installed a new “smart” power bar on the “TV center” and cut ~68W of our vampire power.

Looking at a recent day in the Hydro One Time of Use Portal, I have now reduced our base electricity usage to approx 280Watts per hour.  There is still some room for improvement but 280W/hour is approximately $340/year or a real savings of $375/year just but turning some stuff off when it’s not needed.

I know my base electricity usage – now what?

Well, with Time of Use, there are three tiers which have different electricity rates. Knowing what your base electricity rate is allows you to calculate how much it’s going to cost you to run your house, excluding all of the other add-on stuff. Using my own home/location as an example, and looking at the winter Time of Use tiers (BTW they start today November 1st), I calculated our average price to be $0.131058/kWh (plus HST).

Our 280W base electricity usage now turns into $363/year. That’s not too bad – it’s basically $30 a month to run our basic electrical items. Remember that this number doesn’t include stuff like lights, heating/cooling, TV, computers or any other “on-demand” items.

Knowing what your base electricity usage is allows you to make more educated decisions on turning electrical items on/off.

That brings us back to the HRV and dehumidifier. We don’t need either to run 24/7. The week day off-peak period is 10 continuous hours at an adjusted cost of $0.107558/kWh. If I only allow the HRV to run during off-peak time then the incremental cost would be $70/year. If I let it run 24/7 it would be closer to $200/year. This can be achieved with a simple, properly rated, electrical timer.

The same can be done with the dehumidifier (and any other similar types of loads – like pool pumps or heaters, etc.).

NOTE: I haven’t actually done this yet. I plan on getting a timer soon and checking to see what it’s own electrical consumption is.

Anyways, the gist of this entire post is that you can only reduce your electricity bill by so much. We could definitely get a newer fridge and deep freeze that would consume less power and lower our base electricity usage but then we need to consider the initial cost of replacing those appliances. It could easily be in the $2000 range and since our base electricity usage is currently in the $360/year range, those appliances would take a rather large number of years to pay back in energy savings. That said, if either appliance needs to be replaced, one major deciding factor will be the energy consumption of the replacement unit.

Over the next while you’re likely going to see more Time of Use related posts on I’m on a quest to reduce our base electrical consumption so that I don’t have to pay for wasted electricity. As demonstrated in this post, small reductions in usage can add up very quickly.