Friday, January 16, 2009

Preemption Part Deux

It's Friday.

It's a four day weekend. (At least for those of us in the DC area - Tuesday is a holiday due to Inauguration and the traffic jams to come.)

You know what this means, don't you?

Why, yes, you're absolutely correct! That means it's time for another household casualty! DING! DING! DING! DING! DING! Bob, tell the folks in the audience what they've won...

So last night and today it was Arctic polar bear BUTT cold in the DC area. When I left for work at 6 a.m., it was 10 degrees, and -3 degrees with the wind chill. Expecting it to be cold, I wasn't all that surprised when my alarm went off and I didn't want to get out of bed because it was too cold out. It was too early in the morning and I hadn't had any caffeine yet, so it didn't occur to me that it was odd for it to be so cold INSIDE the house.

Later, my wife pointed out to me that the heater was not cutting the mustard. It was set for 67 in the house, but it wasn't even up to like 62. The heater kept starting, running for a few minutes, then shutting down again.

So my wife called for our heating & air conditioning company to come take a look at it. They said they'd be at our house at 1 p.m... not so much. The dude finally got here somewhere in the 4 o'clock hour, and was still here when I got home around 5:15.

Yep, I made it home JUST in time to hear the GREAT news from the heating company guy. His assessment was:

1) The filter was clogged. Now, we just moved in 3 months ago and I changed the filter just after we moved in, so it's not like I'm totally out of periodicity on that MRC. (Sorry, Maintenance Requirement Card for those non-Navy types. In the Navy we have daily, weekly, monthly, semi-annual, and annual preventative maintenance we have to do that are documented on MRCs). Still, he said after he took the filter out, it started right up and kept running for a good 20 minutes afterward and was still running when I got home.
2) The bearings are going bad on the blower motor. He said because of this, the blower motor might be overheating and that might be what's causing the system to shut down every couple of minutes. New blower motor? $500. Cha-ching!
3) Our system is overall a piece of junk that is about to catastrophically fail and cause mayhem in our household any moment. The heat exchangers and piping are corroded. Who knows how soon it'll fail and dump freon into our house. He recommended not "wasting" the money on a new blower motor and just buying a whole new HVAC system for $9,800. Cha-ching! Cha-ching! Cha-ching!

Um... have you seen the DOW lately?

I mean, I just got a statement on my IRA for 2008, and it said my net return for the year was - (that's NEGATIVE) 33%!!! Not to mention we just became new home owners and sank all our non-retirement fund money into the down payment on the house. I just don't have $10k laying around to buy a new heating system right now.

As with the previous water heater dilemma, there's the question about the useless home warranty. Should we WAIT for it to FAIL and then ask the useless home warranty company, "Oh please oh please oh pretty puh-leeeeeeeeeeeease won't you replace our heating system?" I predict they'll give us the standard blah blah blah due to paragraph x on page y, this repair is not covered for reason z.

My wife called the useless home warranty company tonight to ask them what they would cover. They said only if there was a MECHANICAL FAILURE due to normal wear and tear would they pay to have it fixed. Plus, we can't just have it fixed and then send them the bill. We would have to:

a. WAIT for the system to fail
b. Put on several layers of clothing, mittens, hats, and wool socks
c. CALL the useless home warranty company
d. WAIT for the useless home warranty company to send one of THEIR representatives to come inspect the failure, see the busted pipe and the water damage and deem, "yes, it is not working" (because our assessment and our HVAC company's assessment aren't good enough). Then he'll say, "Oh, but we don't cover the water damage, only the new equipment." Riiiiight.
e. Huddle together as a family and all sleep in the same bed to share body heat while we wait
f. WAIT for the useless home warranty company to send someone (the lowest bidder with the cheapest parts available) to repair it
g. Go to Home Depot and buy some space heaters while we wait
... and so on and so forth...

Ahhh, the joys of home ownership.

So what do you think? Preempt the failure and rack up the credit card bill? Let it ride and see how long the current system lasts before it dies, and then take a stab at getting the useless home warranty to cover it?

I hope you all have a splendid 3 or 4 day weekend depending on your location. (Or 2 day weekend if you're not even in CONUS - Sorry, John!)


Nereus said...

Man, talk about Bad luck. I can kinda see a bum water heater, But a crapped out HVAC? How old is this house your bought? The clogged filter seems suspicious ( I have pets and I change my filter every 3 months and it is "Dusty" but far from clogged) Corroded Heat exchanger and Piping, did this tech have a bore scope? I would assume that the water in your area isn't that acidic or otherwise corrosive. ( I grew up in New Mexico where some of the well water we had you had to sneak up on a glass for a drink)

Maybe a second opinion??

I mean the tech may be an ex Circuit City salesman and trying to sell you on the "Deluxe" package. For the price of replacement, I say do some basic maintenance (change filter, Lube the bearings like heck with the heaviest grease or oil available,inspect joints on exchangers ect) Then drive it like you stole it.
It will either...
Run like a champ
Blow up and leave you looking like Wiley C. Coyote after a road runner gag.
Bout the same as you do out at sea on the boat ( with Non nuclear equipment of course)
Best of luck... Hope you don't have to max out the card, But if you can eek out things until it is spring and warmer, at least then you can make the replacement a "controlled" evolution.


Nereus said...

As an added note...
I am sure that you had an independent Home inspector inspect things prior to purchase. Look at your records about the HVAC system. I know I rejected a home based on the inspection report and items that would have reached the "thousands of dollars" for repairs in the near (1-3 yrs)future.

Sorry your Home "Warranty" is a bureaucratic nightmare. But you are in the Navy, you know the drill, persistence, knowlege of the rules, sub rules, sub sub rules, and the squeaky wheel gets the most grease.
Best of luck

blunoz said...

Holy cow batman. This morning we woke up and it's 60 degrees inside our house. The thermostat program was set for 64 during the night. Something ain't right.

Ruth said...

I'm with Nereus: You need a second opinion. If filter is "clogged," WHY? You all don't even have the pets I do.

I had similar problems with AC last summer. I did choose to replace it and power company financed it with 6 mo no interest/no payments and then 2% above prime. They had the program to get folks to upgrade to more efficient equipment. Anything like that in your area?

BTW, my power bills have really done the incredible shrinking thing.

Dani said...

Sorry about the fun with home repair type stuff.

As for your last comment ... weekend? What are those? Looking forward to being off deployment and having real weekends off again. Enjoy your four day weekend!

Anonymous said...

Ohhh nooo! :( Thats horrid. I hope it works out in the best possible way...if there is one.

Enjoy the long weekend. Andy was off...let's he got a 1 day weekend. But its warm here, so we won't complain.

Hilary said...

If it's not heating to the point of where you've set your thermostat, hasn't it already failed?

blunoz said...

Nereus - The house is about 10 years old. I don't know if he had a bore scope. When I arrived at home, his tools were all put away and he was writing up the paperwork. Also, I was a little distracted with a stressful phone call from work, so my brain wasn't 100% focused on what the HVAC guy was telling me. No, the water isn't that bad here. We did have the house inspection before we bought the house, but he didn't say anything about the HVAC system. He just recommended replacing the water heater.

Aunt Ruth - I think there are actually options for installing a new system - one is more expensive but more efficient and longer lasting.

Dani - I hear ya shipmate. I've been there. God bless you for being out there on the pointy-end of the spear while we enjoy a holiday weekend back in CONUS. In my case, making it through each deployment helped me appreciate the holiday weekends and time with my family when I got back.

Sam - Sorry to hear Andy only had one day off this weekend. God bless you as you deal with fast attack life and unpredictable schedules.

Hilary - That's an EXCELLENT point. Maybe I should call the home warranty company and couch it in those terms.

divrchk said...

OK, I'm having flash backs to your home inspection. I think there WAS a problem with your HVAC unit during your home inspection. I'm pretty sure that it wasn't working on the main level during the inspection. It was quite warm. I think that's why the owner was at your house during the inspection because he was waiting for the repair guy. I would guess that whatever your guy saw the other day was there during the repair back in August or September thus breaking the full disclosure requirement. My memory is correct, no?

J120 Bowman said...

10 year old house, huh. Built during the housing boom when they couldn't build'em fast or cheap enough because nobody was going to stay in any house very long because the value was going to double in two years and they were going to cash out and move on up!

Ten year old blower motor that runs year round with heat and a/c, and probably never been greased, no big surprise. Bearing fail.

Get 2nd opinion! Danger! Danger! Will Robinson. Major effin' coming your way!

Could just be a bad thermocouple or relay, or maybe the thermostat itself. Replacing the thermostat is an easy DIY project and under $100 even if you get the super whamodyne programmable model.

Good luck and as others have said, home ownership sucks sometimes. Keep us informed!

Of course, you could use the cold in the house as a good reason to do some "cuddling"! All of those clothes just cut down on the heat transfer. Impress her with your knowledge of thermodynamics!

JoLee said...

Would suggest getting your heating ducts looked at - they may need cleaning if you're getting that much crud in your filter.
Also - you might want to consider a filter that you take out and hose off like mine.

The Yokoyama's said...

Ahhh Home Ownership, Ain't it the truth? Gotta minute?

#1 I spent hours with a plunger trying to clear the drains after the garbage disposal wouldn't process the potato peels. (on Christmas)

#2 Rain? The guy who upgraded our deck before we moved in threw all the old deck wood under the deck which is where the natural flow of our "Copper
Creek" goes into the storm drain under the house, got CLOGGED. Mel was out of town. Water rerouted and we had " Copper Creek" going over our yard, not under. Fortunately I was able to move the wood, clear a couple of animal/nature made dams and get the creek headed in the right direction again. Whew! Relief! Sigh! Wine!

#3 We initially trimmed some bushes and that then had left bits and pieces which had clogged our gutters. I used garbage cans to catch the water coming over the drain gutters so it wouldn't flood the garage. I was sucking up the water with a steam cleaner in the garage and moving things until I figured it out. (Yes,same day earlier than the creek issue) Solution- I was able to use John's pirate sword to shimmy down into the drain elbow and clear the block. Yeah. Whew!

#4 Water was dripping into our furnace during the heavy rain. This coincided with our wet storm and Copper Creek incident. So I put some plates to catch the water where it was leaking before it got into the furnace. We were cold for a couple days when it wasn't working but it kicked in. Luckily it works now. After Mel got home, Mel put a thing on the roof to keep the rain out. Yeah Mel!

#5 Our water heater stopped working. It was brand new, but a lemon. Long story. So cha ching, we got a new one, nice to meet you Ideal Plumbing.

#6 I need repeated lessons on our two sprinkler systems and their timers from the gardener. He's fixed several broken sprinklers.

#7 I just recently acquired the master code on our alarm system which has gone off a couple times. Yeah! Necessary!

#8 Chain link fence, gates, and clearing the wild grasses and brush in our gigantic yard for the DOG!!! Ouchly expensive, we really love our DOG and we're glad to keep.

#9 I couldn't get the lights to work. Solution? John showed me the other switch that it collaborates with. Smart kid. Thanks John.

#10 Possums poop on our roof. They shimmy up and live inside the junipers by the pool. More animal stories to come....

I was saving these stories for in person and over margaritas, but you inspired my response. (Share with lw please and hope you get a chuckle).