Coffee heat rising

Hotter Than a Two-Dollar Cookstove!

Thank heaven the air conditioning guy showed up today—and by midmorning. By midafternoon the thermometer in the shade of the back porch read 115 degrees.

The unit has been laboring almost nonstop, all day long, just to keep the house at 85 degrees.

When I consider how my cash is spent…

The guy charged me $275 to replace a part that may or may not have been shot. I have no way of knowing, of course, what was wrong. He could have sold me a new air-conditioner if he’d felt so inclined…I wouldn’t have known any better.

Matter of fact, he did try to sell me a new air conditioner.

The owner of my longtime air-conditioning company, which over the past couple of years has been stumbling badly through the depression, finally sold out to someone else. He’s still around; whether as a part-owner or as an employee is unclear. But the new outfit? Not good.

First thing that happened was just a day or so ago I got a phone solicitation from someone who pretended to be “with” the company (i.e., “they hired me here in the boiler room and gave me this script”). He tried to high-pressure me into renewing the annual service contract, which I had long ago decided not to renew, because it’s such a waste of money. All it does is pay for two service calls up front, one in the spring and one in the fall, to inspect the equipment. It gives you no leg up on service when your unit craps out and no discount on products or service during the effective period.

Because he presented himself as someone who worked for Jim and Carol (owners), I wasn’t scorchingly rude to him as I would be to someone I perceived to be a phone solicitor. But I should’ve been. It took three repetitions of the fact that I’m unemployed and can’t afford to pay for a service contract before I got him off the phone!

Now today comes this new service guy—not the usual guy. Very slick sort of a fellow, not the amiably disheveled type that is our usual AC repairman.

I’d run out to Ace to pick up a nonprogrammable thermostat before he showed up. When I told him I’d learned the Braeburn unit that had been installed wasn’t meant to operate a heat pump, he demanded to know who told me that! A bit taken aback, I said I’m a big girl and can use the Internet. I looked up the unit and the model number and learned that it’s incompatible with heat pumps, which probably explains why my power bill went through the roof the instant it was installed.

He then tried to convince me that the immediate jump in the power bill had nothing to do with the incompatible thermostat but that my unit is out of date and needs to be replaced.

I said I’m unemployed and can barely afford to have him come in and fix the thing, much less pony up $5,000 for a new one!

He then tried to persuade me two more times that I should buy a new air conditioner. When I told him rather strenuously that i. don’t. have. the. money to buy a new HVAC unit, he suggested that I should take out a loan.

Then he pitched me for a service contract. He gave me the usual slippery hustle: if I had a service contract I could get the expensive new part for a discount. The contract would only be $150….

“Look,” said I, “How much will it be to buy a contract and install the part?”

“Three hundred and fifty dollars,” said he.

“Good. And how much would it cost just to install the part, without the service contract?”

“Two hundred and seventy-five dollars.”

“There you have it! Just install the part, please.”

So he won’t be coming back.

I should’ve called Sally’s guy a month or more ago, but just haven’t gotten around to it. He services both parts of the heating/cooling unit in one $65 trip in the spring (the way these guys justify $150 is by claiming they have to come inspect the AC in the springtime before you start it up and then heater in the fall before you start using that, which is clear and present ridiculousness).

Anyway, the nonprogrammable thermostat is a little easier to use than the programmable model. At least I don’t have to dig out the encyclopedic instructions and study them for 15 minutes every time I want to change the settings. It has one of those “save” buttons that causes it to reset the temp 5 degrees higher (in summer; 5 degrees lower in winter) until you tap it again to turn it off. This means that if the temp is set at a sleepable 79 degrees (about as warm as I can stand a cooped-up house and still sleep at night), when I get up in the morning I can press one button to move the temperature up to 84 degrees. That’s a degree off my normal setting, but one degree, I expect, will not make enough difference to bankrupt me.

Any more than I’m already going to be bankrupted. Literally, the unit has run all day long, barely stopping more than five or ten minutes at any time. It’s almost 9:00 p.m. and the thing is roaring away. It’s still 99 degrees outdoors.

And a good thing it is that I just went out there to look at the thermometer. For some reason the timer on the hose didn’t kick off, and the tap was still gushing into the pool!

Luckily, the water level was pretty far down, so after two hours of the hose running full-bore, it’s still an inch or two below the coping.

It needs to be backwashed, because of all the gunk the damn palm trees dropped in there. Tomorrow morning. Really. That will pull the water level back down to where it was and I’ll have to refill it again tomorrow.

Cripes. I’ll be lucky if the water bill is only $225. And the power bill a mere $300.

2 thoughts on “Hotter Than a Two-Dollar Cookstove!”

  1. Your title is an expression I haven’t heard in a while.

    It’s hard to have to change service providers. At least you have a reference for a new one. Hope it works out (and you keep cool this weekend!).

  2. Our air conditioner stopped in May. We had a guy come from a company that had been around since my Mom was a little girl. He said it was the original furnace to the house so it was 50-60 years old. He said the control panel was shot and would need to be replaced, but likely didn’t exist anymore. Another local company in town may have the part. He rigged it up the best he could, but said it likely wouldn’t last. Such an old-fashioned company, he said they’d send us a bill. He was right. The repair didn’t last a week and it went out, of course, right before the 3-day weekend. We still haven’t gotten a bill for it. And the other company didn’t have a control panel. So we called around to get someone to show up as soon as the holiday was over to replace the furnace. We got an independent guy to come. He didn’t try to sell us anything special. Never even heard of the service contract you kept getting pushed to buy. He recommended an 80/20 which was far cheaper than the 95/5 we opted for. So for $3,550, we’ll get a $1,500 rebate and our bill has dropped $200 in the month since we’ve had it and gotten an electric bill. So far so great. I wish your experience could’ve gone as good as ours. The only thing was living in that heat for 3-4 days was miserable. I read on another blog that there are 104 efficient furnaces nowadays that reuse the heat/cool in the system. That was interesting to learn about.

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