So my hot water heater broke down. It's new as of July, and my dad and I installed it, but I paid him in beer, so when I called for technical assistance and they asked whether it was professionally installed I said yes.
Apparently though the problem had nothing to do with the substandard contractor I paid and everything to do with a defective damper valve. They promptly arranged to ship me a new one after I explained what was going on with error lights and sight glasses and funny "PING!" noises. Regardless I was able to get the heater going within a half hour of talking to them and when they sent the new damper assembly to me I figured I'd have a "spare".
The part arrived a few days later and I took it down to my basement to store.
Two days later the water heater stopped working and I couldn't get it started. Leslie and I were headed out to Christmas shop, but my in-laws needed hot water to give Lily a bath. I decided I'd immediately install the new damper assembly.
What followed was essentially a complicated shell game, but where there were no shells, and the ball underneath was actually a flash light.
I had a screw driver, a flashlight, and a set of instructions. I put the flashlight down to open the instructions. I closed the instructions and couldn't find the flashlight. I found it on the floor and picked it up to look at the screws holding the assembly to the top of the water heater. I shone the beam on the screws as I loosened them. I put the flashlight down to collect the screws. I couldn't find the flashlight. I found it on top of the refrigerator and picked it up to shine it on the hood. I saw sheet metal tabs that needed to be bent back from the hood in order to remove it. I set the flashlight down and climbed on a stool to bend the tabs. I removed the hood and couldn't find the flashlight. I found it on the toolbox.
This went on until I finished installing the damper. Every time I would put down one tool in particular in order to use a different tool...the first tool would disappear. Typically it was the flashlight. In the end I couldn't find the flashlight but we were in a hurry to get out the door and so I just stacked everything on top of the dryer, restarted the hot water heater, saw with pride that it lit and remained on, and went shopping.
The next day I started a load of laundry, so I cleaned up the tools and instructions, sliding them off the dryer, putting the instructions away on a shelf and depositing the tools in the toolbox. I ran the washing machine and came back a half hour later to transfer it to the dryer...
...which is when I found the flashlight, clean as a whistle, in the drum of the washing machine with the clean clothes. Big credit to maglight...it still works.