Coffee heat rising

Hotter’n the Hubs…

We’re supposed to see 114 degrees on Saturday. But what the heck…this is only Tuesday. 😀

Doesn’t make much difference, though. Once you’re over 110, it’s all pretty much the same: hotter than the hubs of Hades.

SDXB is in Denver with New Girlfriend, where they’re having a good time in relatively cool (heh) surroundings. From there he’s headed up to Oregon to hang out with his sister & brother-in-law. He’d planned to come back here briefly, to check the house and restock the suitcases, I guess. I suggested he forego the side trip and go directly up to the Pacific Northwest, which I hope has cooled down a bit.

The air conditioner on Sally’s house, behind me, where the young couple moved in when she betook herself to an old-folkerie, is on the fritz. It’s making a loud scraping and growling sound, such a racket you can’t stay out in the yard for long. You actually can hear it inside my house, if you’re listening for it.

The kids  are pretending nothing is wrong with the AC unit, as it groans, rattles, grinds, and squeaks through every moment it runs.

Which is 60 moments x 24 per day…

Sally and I bought these units at the same time, after a hailstorm blew through and knocked out every air conditioner in the neighborhood. We both bought the same brand from a nearby, well established HVAC firm: a Goodman model with a 10-year no-questions-asked warranty.

Unfortunately, the warranty on these units has now expired. This suggests, of course, that after ten years one can expect the unit itself to expire. Which is what one suspects is going over there.

At any rate, the damn thing is so loud you can hear it inside my house. I hesitate to complain…don’t want to stir up bad blood with these already kinda touchy neighbors.

They’re right-wing fundamentalists who believe God told them to produce four children, which they duly did: pop-pop-pop-pop. The kids are great — I love the sound of children playing and carrying on. But the parents have their strange moments.

He tries to work on that AC unit himself. These units need to be serviced once a year (better: twice, spring & fall) to maximize their life span. But apparently a lot of folks here don’t know that, or else are unwilling to pay a workman unless the unit is actually busted.

If the thing craps out in this weather, they’ll either have to put the kids up with friends or relatives or else rent a motel room.

Man! It’s one thing to be hot and miserable yourself for a couple of days and nights, but to have four little kids screaming and whining in the heat…torture! For everyone concerned.

And if they wait until it breaks to get it fixed, that’ll cost them an unnecessarily pretty penny.

Heh! Y’know, you can’t tell people stuff like this. I guess it’s the kind of thing you have to learn from the School of Hard Knocks….a particularly expensive educational institute.

The Workman Waltz: Flirtation Stage

So here we are at the first stage of hiring workmen to replace the air conditioner and reroof the house. The insurance company ponied up about $11,100 for a new AC, a new roof, and repairs to the CoolDeck. That amount will cover the air conditioner and the roof, just barely.

I joined up Angie’s List by way of getting names of contractors who have at least not driven SOME people into fits of rage. The result was a little mixed, but I did find a roofer who’s supposedly OK. And, having become disenchanted with my own AC guy after the company changed hands, I’d already learned of one air-conditioning contractor from my neighbor Sally; the other new neighbors, who moved in to Dave’s (former) Used Car Lot, Marina, and Weed Arboretum, recommended a second one based in Sunnyslope, right around the corner from us.

M’hijito and I have used a roofer—both houses needed to be reroofed shortly after we purchased them—who did a good job and seemed to be honest. I called him and found him strangely reluctant, but he showed up and produced a bid of $7,200: almost $2,000 more than he bid five years ago to roof the same house, when he had to replace rotted plywood to the tune of $48.50 per sheet.

The Sunnyslope roofer wanted $5,400 to install a 14-seer Goodman air conditioner, the smallest SEER for which the government will disgorge a $1,500 tax kickback on a high-efficiency unit.

$5,400 + $7,200 = $12600
$12,600 – $11,100 = $1,500

Unfortunately, it’s highly  unlikely that I’ll ever see any tax refund from that federal offer, because it’s unlikely that I will pay any taxes at all this year. Thanks to the costs of Medicare B, Medicare D, Medigap, and long-term care insurance, my medical costs—before the $700 pair of glasses—far exceed 7.5% of my income. Social Security, the main source of my 2010 income, is taxed under some strange and incomprehensible system that keeps the cost fairly low, and I’ve hardly drawn down any of my savings this year. Income from teaching is even more minuscule than Social Security benefits. And the S-corporation will shelter almost all my freelance income, which was more minuscule still.

So…I’m going to have to land the best deal I can on the least cheesy product anyone will offer me.

The Sunnyslope air-conditioning guy came in with a bid of $5,400, and he proposed to defraud my insurance company by emanating a bid for a 14-SEER unit but calling it 13-SEER, since he claimed that the insurance company would pay for nothing better than 13-SEER—once again proving that crime doesn’t pay. Sally’s guy issued a bid for $5,200 for 14-SEER, hold the bullshit.

Two hundred dollars isn’t a big difference, but he didn’t propose to lie to the insurer. In my experience, if a person will cheat someone else, sooner or later he’ll cheat you, too.

Now about that $7,200 roof… The guy whose name I got from Angie’s list gave me a bid of $6,100, eleven hundred bucks better than my old roofer’s proposal. Same job, same quality of shingling (different brand, though), a little higher on replacing plywood, decking, molding, and fascia.

That’s getting down into the almost reasonable range.

$6,100 + $5,200 = $11,300

Only a couple hundred bucks more than the insurance has paid.

However, here is a very interesting site, where various kinds of contractors go online and talk shop. Get into the roofers’ forum, explore around, and eventually you’ll come to a thread where the men are chatting about a practice in which the outfits that descend on a town after a storm offer to pay a homeowner’s deductible to get their business. Well, there is an outfit in the neighborhood just now that doesn’t appear to be altogether fly-by-night. It’s a little suspicious that the company’s A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau dates from November of 2010 (and, one might note, that when one looks into how you apply for an A+ rating, one is not left with much confidence in that), but the Registrar of Contractors shows that they’ve been in business for 20 years. They’re flying through with crews of six or eight men and reroofing each house in a day or two. I could ask for a bid and find out if they’ll come down the amount of the $2,000 deductible.

The forum-going roofing guys think this practice is unethical. Some of them think it’s illegal—they think it’s insurance fraud. However, it’s hard to see how it would be fraudulent if the insurance company has already paid out and has seen bids from legitimate companies that are not basing their bids on any such schemes. Once the insurance company has paid what its representatives think is fair, it’s up to the homeowner to find the best price within the confines of the amount she has to work with.

What fun! I can hardly wait to get started on the construction.

Summer’s here!


Welp, it’s supposed to hit 110 sometime in the next few days. The flowers are frying, and summer has finally arrived.

A few blogging friends came over yesterday. The pool was warm enough to swim in but still cool enough to be refreshing—not yet bathwater temp but getting there.

A 110-degree day means the air conditioning will have to run all day long. Hateful. I don’t like having to keep the house closed up 24 hours a day. It’s stuffy and claustrophobic. And the expense! OMG! I’m expecting bills to rise well over $200, and that’s if I keep it uncomfortably warm inside the house. If you want it cool enough so that you don’t break a sweat walking to the bathroom, you’ll pay $300 for the privilege.

According to Wunderground, though, night-time temps should stay in the 70s—tonight it cools to 77; on Thursday (supposedly) it drops all the way to 70. So maybe I can shut the AC off at night. That will help some.

And in my new penury, I’m going to have to wrestle with the ever-annoying digital thermostat, the contraption that decidedly does not save on power consumption. Right now it’s set to cool the house to a temperature where I can sleep at night and then go back up to stifling about midnight, when I hope to be out cold. That’s going to have to stop: cooling the place into the 70s, even for three or four hours, is now outside my budget.

I need to find a new air-conditioning contractor. Our regular outfit has gone to seed. In addition to having installed said thermostat, which appears to be inappropriate for the heat pump on my house, they gouged us $500 for a repair on the downtown house’s swamp cooler that we would not have done had they called first and said what they intended to charge, and now they’re trying to nick us another $85 to have the guy come back and fix it because he didn’t install the pump right! I’m totally fed up with that outfit and am going to call my neighbor Sally’s AC guy to do the annual service on my unit, which my guys have quietly forgotten.

I’m sorry to can them, because I know the company has been struggling through the deprecession—they’ve laid off all their staff but one guy, who apparently is not busy full time, because they cut his salary to half-time. But we can’t support their business single-handed, which is evidently what they expect. Hope Sally’s guy is OK…the air conditioning business around here is awash in incompetents and crooks. She’s a wily old gal, though, and so I have some hope that he can do the job without cleaning out my bank account.