Saturday, July 23, 2011

Hot Hot Hot

So, here's the story from the beginning . . .

Our air conditioner's outside unit has been really loud forever - like since before Peeper - in fact, any time we're outside, we turn it off, or we can't hear each other talk.

Lately, Shrike has been worried that something was about to bust loose. Then, on Wednesday, one time it was running but not loud, then loud again, which was odd, so we got someone over to check it out it the next day.

He looked at it and said there was nothing wrong, it's just old and rattly, and showed me how loose one of the outside bolts was. "But, since I'm here, I can try tightening it up and see if I can get it quieter."

He turned it off at a switch where it plugs in, and tightened things, put some foam in to cushion, etc.

Then he turned it back on and it was really quiet. I said "Wow!" and he said "No, the compressor didn't kick on yet." and turned it back off.

Oh, okay.

When he was finished - an hour and a half later - he told me the compressor wasn't coming back on, so he'd installed a "hard start unit" or "start booster" (I've heard both terms).

(Later, I was told that the not starting often happens when it's that hot, and that he probably cooled it off with the water hose or something. That would explain why I discovered that Peeper's sprinkler was not on the hose later that day.)

I asked again "But there's nothing actually worng? It's not about to break? It was just rattly?" and was assured that was the problem. The charge was something like $120, $18 of which was this booster thing.

I turned it off later, because Peeper and I were playing outside (and it was still pretty loud), and it hasn't come on since.

That evening, Shrike discovered that the breaker trips when it tries to come on.

This morning the woman I talked to on the phone said "Oh, yeah, he told me that the compressor sounded really bad yesterday and was probably about to go."

That would be the opposite of what he told me.

They sent out a different guy, who messed with it a while, then came in and said, "It's done."

"Oh, okay, cool. So it's not going to be tripping the breaker anymore?"

"No, the compressor is done. You need a new one. Or a new unit."

He told me that "I checked all the electrical stuff and that's fine. There are no shorts, and the windings (electrical part of compressor?) are fine, but the valves are shot" and later the phone lady read to me from his report that "the problem with the compresor is mechanical, not electrical, so the hard start kit couldn't have caused it."

Their estimate is $1500 for a new compressor with a 1 year warranty or $2500 for new unit with 10 year warranty, and there's no need to replace the air handler in the basement.

We got two other companies out to look at it, for second opinions and competing bids.

The guy from the second company put a volt (amp?) meter on it and got no current thru the windings. He said the valves are fine but the windings are all shorted out. He says we have to replace inside thing too, and it will be $4500 for all of it. We are not doing that.

We had a third company give an estimate, but they didn't have a tech avaiable, so we didn't get an opinion on what's wrong. I haven't gotten his estimate yet, but he says basement part is fine and does not need to be replaced.

What the fuck?

Are these guys even looking at the same thing?

Is it just me, or does this seem kind of hinky?

Meanwhile, this was probably the hottest day of the year. It was - well, look for yourself. These photos were taken at 11:30 am.

By mid-afternoon, it was 93 degrees inside, and this was the best seat in the house.

Peeper and I went over to T's house for a while and it wasn't (quite) as bad when we came home.

We've decided to accept another friend's offer to borrow a window unit air conditioner and a couple of fans (we have one fan and lots of ceiling fans) to get things bearable until it's fixed.

In the meantime, Shrike and Peeper are hanging out at her parents for a while, and I'm at Panera with my laptop. Blogging first, obviously, but then I'm supposed to be getting some work done, too.

When it's stime for Shrike to go to work, she'll bring Peeper back to me, and we'll go pick up the AC, hoit the grocery and hang out in other cool places until evening. Not necesssarily in that order, ovivously.

We have to get the house cooled down somehow for now, because best case, it will be at least the end of next week before we'll have a new air conditioner, but we also want to buy ourselves a little time to make a more logical decision about how to deal with it, because right now, we're pretty desperate for relief and they know that they've got us by the hot, sweaty balls..

I want at least one more company to look at the compressor and tell us what cause the problem. If they also say it's electrical, I really have to think that, if the first company isn't intentionally trying to screw us, the guy at least messed up and shorted it out and they're covering up for it.

In which case, they're going to replace it and we're not going to pay for it. (The attorney that I'm doing web work for has already offered to make a phone call, if needed.)

At the very, very, very least, if we have them do the replacement, I think the money we paid them on Thursday should be applied toward the cost of that.

So, Internets, what would you do?

Oh yeah, and the best part? When we finally found the warranty information, it expired in May.


  1. Um, hook up the window unit, stay in that room, and get more estimates? Do they charge you to come out and look and give the estimate? If not, I'd get a bunch, maybe you can get some kind of consensus.

    I'd also ask around to see who various people have used and what their experiences have been with them and who they think is trustworthy.

    Here's hoping you can make the first people fix what they broke for free.


  2. Estimates are free, but diagnoses aren't. But I think most will waive the fee for the diagnosis if we go with them for replacement. But a few $50 fees are worth it if we save a ton on the replacement.

    All three of these companies were recommended my MOMS Club members, and we have two others that we haven't called yet.

  3. I'd definitely get that window unit going and camp out in that cool room. My thermometer said the same thing as yours on Thursday. I have never felt heat like that in my life. I was scared to walk the dog because our previous dog collapsed and died while out walking last year at the beginning of July, and it wasn't nearly this hot. Hopefully some cooler weather is on the way.

  4. Most of the rooms a semi-bearable, with windows open and ceiling fans on - including the bedroom, especially at night.

    The hottest are the office and kitchen, with no ceiling fans, but I've installed a remote-access program on my computer so I can sit in the other room (or at Panera, like today!) and work just like I was at my desk.

    We'll definitely be getting the window unit installed tonight or tomorrow.

    Also, Anon, I'm so sorry to hear about your dog, that's awful. We're quite worried about our 14 year old kitty and big hairy pups.

  5. When you get the window unit going in one room, my experience has been that if close all the windows and place fans stratigically, you can spread the cool air pretty far through the house. Also, close off any room you can just not use right now, unless they need to be open for the airflow to circulate well.

    Also, you might try some ice cubes in the pets drinking water. Maybe hose the dogs down outside too.

    I wouldn't suggest the hose for Boy Cat though... ;) Good thing cats like hot anyway.

    Maybe fill the little pool and add some chunks of ice in it for the pups. You could freeze bowls of water to make big chunks. That would give them a nice cool place to cool off.


  6. Thanks for the ideas, LK!

    The pool has water, and I'm surprise Galoot's not been in it more. PerfectPup is not so much about it.

    They're going in and out a lot, trying to figure out which is cooler (day: inside, unless there's a breeze / night: outside).

    When Peeper is not home, or is asleep, we're leaving the door to the basement open, because it's quite comfy down there, and Shrike swears they have enough sense to go down.

    (Can't leave it open when when she's running around, because she'll try to go down and is likely to fall.)

    I forgot today, but yesterday when Peeper and I ran away for a while, I left a couple of inches of cold water in the tub, too. I don't think anyone took advantage of it, I'm pretty sure there would have been some tell-tale signs.


What say you?