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7.24.2012

A DIFFERENT KIND OF HOUSE CALL


Do you remember when only a select few were experts in their given field? 
Now it seems we are all self-proclaimed, Internet educated experts in any given subject.

Remember when doctors did the doctoring?  They had the education, the training, the access to continuing education.  They were sort of like the great and mighty Oz.  We might have known we didn't feel good, something was drastically wrong, but we relied on their knowledge and smarts to get us better.  That is not the case now, both in good and bad ways.  There are probably more hypochondriacs created by webmd.com than ever before.  But it has also given people access to information that may have improved their life, or even saved it.

I have a weird smell in my house right now.  Try as we might, we have not been able to locate the culprit to its strong and pungent ammonia smell.  No, we don't have a cat or dog.  We don't have carpet either, all hardwood floors.  It started several weeks ago with a faint undefinable elusive odor.  I passed it off as house scents.  Houses have scents you know.  But, in the past couple weeks it has grown to walking into a wall of stink kind of odor.  My sister and brother-in-law were here last week, they more than noticed.  It has been a relentlessly hot and humid summer and our central air conditioning really hasn't been turned off since summer hit.

Now that people entering our house have noticed, and my husband has gotten concerned about whether or not it could be detrimental our health, we decided to leave no option uncovered.  After trying things like; checking the furnace blower and duct work for a decaying mouse and coming up empty, changing both furnace filters, dumping a bucket of bleach water down the basement floor drain and buying enough air freshener products to start a speciality shop, I turned to the Internet.  I would become the expert.

Google answered my causes of ammonia smell in a house with a host of sites listing things like; ammonia cleaning chemicals and cat urine.  One site mentioned that possibly a cat had snuck in the house!  Those were both negative.  I went a bit further in my investigation to garner information which might lead to the apprehension and annihilation of this obnoxious odor.   Could central air conditioning cause an ammonia smell in a building?  That search led me to a HVAC heating and cooling site which said that my trap on my AC might either have started to grow mold and bacteria or be partially clogged.  Well, this might be worth a service call.

Armed with that world wide web information, we decided I should call the husband of a friend of mine who owns a heating and cooling business.  It's always a good idea to get the central air unit serviced anyway.  We could rule out the possibility of mold and bacteria in the condenser or trap.  

I didn't want to show all my knowledge to Lee, the heating and cooling owner, or act like I knew.  But, I had some information, some lingo I had picked up on my Google search of ammonia smelling houses and their causes.  Eventually I confessed that after all the things we had tried, I turned to the source of all knowledge, the Internet, and found out that maybe there was an issue with bacteria or a sluggish drain trap.  We would get it serviced just to be on the safe side.

When I go to my family doctor I usually say something to him about what I researched or read on the Internet.  It's usually about this or that health issue or solution that is being offered that relates to my health.  I didn't go to school to be a medical doctor, but between living in a body with some health issues and reading, I am a self-proclaimed expert.  Though I don't have M.D. after my name, I can readily and easily type webmd.com in a search box.

It seems that the wide open Autobahn of information has given us all access to some of the things that only a select few in their fields had.  I don't know if that makes their jobs easier or harder.  When a professional, trained in their field, hears a patient, a client, a student say, I googled it, they probably quit listening at that exact moment.  We have just enough information, combined with no experience in the field, to be a sassy mouthed amateur.

What's the saying; you're only a expert if other people say you are, not if you say you are.

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