There is nothing like a malfunctioning incubator to really make a poultry person worry. I plugged in the beast yesterday afternoon, and it roared to life, but it didn't take long to notice that the temperature was not increasing. The fan was going, but there wasn't any heat being produced. Ugh. It was too late to call the company for tech support. I emailed back and forth with an incubator-guru friend a few times, trying to figure out if it was the thermostat or the heat element causing the problem, but I just couldn't figure it out. I took the top off and poked around, nothing had obviously fallen off, everything was connected. I tried switching power to the backup thermostat, nothing changed.. Huh, I was stumped.
I called the company this morning, and while waiting for a return phone call I gave it one last effort. Sort of along the lines of kicking it, I reached in and wiggled all the wire connections (yes, I really am smart enough to unplug it before doing this!). I plugged it back in, there was a little sizzle and a funny smell, and then I could feel warm air coming out of the fan. Now that's more like it! But I didn't trust this to be a permanent fix, obviously if something came loose once it could happen again. Some of the wire connections had a little bit of wire exposed under the wire nut, and it looked kinda grungy. So I undid all the wire nuts that I had installed years ago when I put in the electronic thermostat, cut off and re-stripped the ends, and re-connected them. I am a total bonehead when it comes to technical/electronic/mechanical stuff, so this was pushing the limits of what I can handle, but I felt very skilled, even though it was a simple procedure. :-) I trust it to run now that the connections are more solid.
So now I'm just waiting and watching, fine tuning the temperature and humidity. The first batch of eggs will go into the incubator on Sunday afternoon. This is much later than normal!