Electric Boogaloo

The super fun part about owning an older home is that you never really quite know what to expect with the wiring. Since the house is 80+ years old, it predates modern wiring and instead has quite a bit of good ol’ knob & tube (UGH!) No lovely color-coded wires and all the other good stuff. Now the previous owner had done some updating and we’ve had electricians out to do work as well trying to get some of it up to code. Still, it’s usually an adventure when we try to update things.

Now the previous owner had done some updating and we’ve had electricians out to do work as well trying to get some of it up to code. We are slowly but surely replacing switches, outlets, and of course the *cough* lighting fixtures.

With most of it being decently straightforward, my handy hubby has done quite a bit of it. As for me, I know less than zilch about electrical work despite being painstakingly explained to me multiple times. Beyond knowing there’s a hot wire and a neutral wire, the rest is Greek to me so I usually just smile, nod and pretend to understand. And since I’m not much help, I stand by encouraging my hubby as he does his thing. Sometimes I even get to hold the flashlight for him which means I do things like:

 

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Gotta keep myself entertained somehow!

 

Now we finally have a decent light fixture in our mircofoyerspacethingy. (It’s really small.)

Until next time!

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The Ugly…Bites Back: A/C Unit 2.0

It comes in threes. Isn’t that the old wives tale? Regardless, our adventure takes yet another turn…this time for the crazy unexpected.

Duct-work installation went off like clock work yesterday morning. I can’t begin to describe just how much torn and crumbling material was torn out from our crawl space but I hear a picture is worth 1,000 words.

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After an hour of demolition in the crawl space. Fare thee well, old duct work!

To be blunt, I’m amazed that some of this was ever considered ‘up to code’. The vents themselves looked to be nothing more than pieces of plywood …if not just cardboard… that were then covered in a thin coating/sheet that has done little to offer protection, as the pictures illustrate below:

I admit, seeing all of this cover the entirety of my driveway…I couldn’t help but go and peek at what all supplies they had in their truck. To be fair they showed up with a crew of six technicians and three trucks.

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It’s like an arts and crafts fair gone wild! The love child of Michael’s and Home Depot?

And look! Shiny new METAL duct-work to prevent future critters and basic wear n’ tear from becoming an issue…at least for the next decade or so!

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Oh right, I did mention the ugly didn’t I? About that… so last night I received a call from the Mr. Work on the duct-work had come to an abrupt halt as they discovered not one but two snakes lounging about in our crawlspace. Suffice it to say, I’m glad to hear I’m not the only person, aside from Indiana Jones, that runs in terror at the sight of a snake.

So this morning I hunted around for someone that could come out and remove the two newest tenants of our home. In doing so I discovered we are an unfortunate loophole in our particular location. …as in, we are within a city yet zoned county for all purposes related to animal control. SO- even though our city has an actual technician that handles snake removal specifically, we are “outside his jurisdiction”.

Next step…I called the county animal control to have someone out to gather up our tenants and another brick wall was found. They service our area BUT they do not cover the removal and relocation of snakes.

This is just getting better and better. Time to roll up the sleeves!

After exhausting the yellow pages, I received a referral from a pest company we’ve used in the past that covers the removal of ‘dangerous’ wildlife -including- da da da daaaaaa…SNAKES!

So now the waiting game begins or rather I summon forth the patience somewhere in me, we have a technician coming out to safely and humanely catch and relocate these two slithery tenants this afternoon.

I cannot wait to see if they’re still under there or if they’ve found their way into our attic.

Until next time,

~Christy

The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly: A/C Unit 2.0

Now then, I admit that five days without our A/C was horrible, as in…the humidity and heat blended together in such a fantastical way one could feel the brain melting. Over-dramatic? Mmm likely though sitting through 87 degrees in your house on a whopping 92 degree day is the polar opposite of fun.

I am pleased to say that Freedom Air did arrive Saturday, albeit behind schedule, but the fact they were willing to work through the worst thunderstorm we’ve had, since moving into our new farmhouse, was both appreciated and wonderful. I mentioned before that they’ve a fantastic attitude and sense of customer service, well… I wasn’t exaggerating that. Those fellows stayed from 2pm until 10pm to ensure we had everything installed and air flowing cooly throughout the house.

As for the good, we have air. I repeat, Houston, we have AIR! So simple yet so crucial, it was the first night we’d slept well in days.

Onto the bad… upon tearing away the interior and exterior A/C units we were informed that our duct work was in less than stellar condition. I put it gently. The reality is more pockets of insulation laying on the floor of the crawl space that have fallen from tears and gaps found in the duct work. The likeliest culprit, critters and simple wear n’ tear. …though considering where we live, critters are most likely.

And of course, the ugly – when they came back out the following day to ensure that everything was working correctly, since they were forced to install during a horrible storm, they found that the crawlspace was chilled akin to an ice box, that the 73-75 degrees we were maintaining inside the house was at the expense of cooling off our crawlspace. The duct work was simply that torn apart. To add insult to injury, when inspecting our returns inside the home, they found multiple that were damaged to an extent that air could not properly flow through them, rendering them useless.

Reality took another turn as it dawned on us, we weren’t simply replacing an ancient air conditioning unit but now the entirety of the duct work in the crawl space and all of the main level returns in the house. And that folks, -that- is ugly. To their credit, I appreciate that the technicians with Freedom Air took the initiative to tell us about the problem otherwise our new energy efficient machine would’ve simply run endlessly and our power bills would’ve likely doubled.

“When things do not go your way, remember that every challenge — every adversity — contains within it the seeds of opportunity and growth.” – Roy T. Bennett

Dwindling passion for the long road ahead rekindled, doubts about what new surprises tomorrow might hold quelled, and determination to forge ahead and shape our forever home together restored.

Each ‘surprise’ carries with it its own unique challenges, more often than not – expense, but the Mr. and I can forego likes and wants in favor of needs for the time being. So we are on our way to new metal duct work in the crawlspace for improved performance and life expectancy and from there…well, getting that darn pasture fence finished once the rain lets up will feel mighty good.

Here’s to another day in paradise!

~Christy

Hotter than Hades…our A/C experience

There is nothing quite like receiving a call at work from the Mr. to inform me that our A/C unit has quit working. As we are a stone’s throw from summer and the temperature just keeps on rising day by day, you go through three initial phases when you hear the words: our A/C is out.

  1. Denial. It’s not pretty, as in…you find yourself begging your unit to turn back on, bribing it with nonsensical luxuries an inanimate object could never use since they’re not …you know, alive? And then you realize you’re flattering it, encouraging it, telling it what a wonderful unit it’s been and come on lad, don’t you have at least a few more years in you?
  2. Anger. There is no ‘frustration period’, not in the South with these temperatures and this humidity. So you go from pleading and flattering to threats, just like that. Once more, inanimate object…not alive…it has no conscious presence but it doesn’t matter, you find yourself managing not to break your foot kicking the thing as the realization of pending costs, inconvenience, etc kick in. Now it isn’t regret you feel, but as I said, anger. You may find yourself repeating, ‘We’ve only lived here two months. C’mon man!’ …it’s real.
  3. Ingenuity. At this point you realize that all of the moping about and frustration doesn’t accomplish anything. It felt good at the time but was essentially useless, wasting energy in a house that’s now 80 degrees inside…and rising. So this is the point where you channel your inner MacGyver, roll up your sleeves and start making phone calls to find a solution to the problem.

And that…that is where our story begins…

During the closing process, we did elect to have a home warranty on the farmhouse that would cover major utilities and appliances for the first year of ownership. While we’ve never needed to use this warranty in the past with previous homes, we knew going into a fixer-upper that it would be foolish not to get it. Lo’ and behold, two months in and our A/C stopped working. Frustrating? Yes. Manageable? Theoretically, yes. That left us with nothing to do but call the home warranty company to alert them to the issue.

At first, things moved quite smoothly. This happened late afternoon on a Wednesday and so they had us call the company they use for heating and air in our area to set up an appointment. Due to the circumstances we’ve undergone, I will actually name them: Bailey’s Heating & Air. A technician was assigned to our unit and scheduled for first thing on Thursday morning. He arrived within his allotted time frame and asked me only two questions: Where is the unit located? Can you turn on the A/C?

Naturally, I showed him where the exterior and interior unit (of which is in our crawl space) were and then stepped inside to turn the A/C back on. I stepped outside and found the crawl space door open and his gloves on the fence but he was skimming through his phone. When I asked what was wrong it was made to sound like nothing serious, an easy fix, he’d just need to retrieve the part from their office. His claim was that the fan motor on the interior unit was shot and needed replacing but as he had other calls to attend first, he couldn’t be back until the following morning to replace the fan motor.

Now you can call me crazy, or spoiled, but I’ve never dealt with a company that comes out to assess your issue and then leaves to go to other calls -before- fixing your problem. This fellow did…but not before requiring a check for our co-pay with our warranty coverage. Once more we endured another day of insanely hot temperatures inside our house…as did our poor dogs. We re-arranged work schedules yet again…because what else can you do?

Yesterday morning he was to be here between 7-8am. The Mr. took the day off to keep the dogs cool and be here to help as needed. At 11:30am I receive a call at work. …the technician never showed. I tried calling him, no answer. We called the home warranty company. Forty-five minutes on hold granted us, ‘There is nothing we can do. We haven’t received his report yet on the issue or your co-pay, so we can’t assign anyone else at this point.”

Fiddlesticks to that!

I immediately had the Mr. call and cancel our check as it seems more and more likely this technician, that did not introduce himself with a name, had no branding on his clothing, on his work truck, or an ID badge, was likely a fraud.

Now as we’ve always had excellent service and success with Freedom Air, I pulled up their number, even though they are not contracted with our home warranty company. When I called them and explained our situation, they changed around a technician’s call order to have someone out within an hour to assess our situation. I went back to work and felt relief, things would be fine now.

Wrong. I’m getting really tired of surprises…

The Mr. calls me at work once more. I was expecting, ‘We have air!’ Instead I received, ‘It’s far far worse than we anticipated.’ It seems as though the technician from Bailey’s Heating & Air never actually did anything to check or look over our unit because when Freedom Air’s technician arrived, the moment he undid just one screw on the side panel, to look inside, water spouted out with a fury. When the side panel was removed entirely he found -four inches- of standing water inside the unit. Every single electrical anything had been fried.

Considering the terrifying cost of putting in a new unit, we opted to try and replace/repair what we knew to be utterly shot. Nearly a grand and five hours later, it still wasn’t working…additional parts would need replacement and potentially the entire unit. So we had two choices, take the gamble and keep replacing things at the risk of still having to shuck it and replace the unit whilst knowing we were spending more on parts/labor than the unit was worth or…just replace it and have air again.

Financially…though painful… and logically, a new unit simply made the most sense.

So we went ahead and ordered our new unit which I am told is being loaded right now downtown and en route shortly to be delivered. Four to six more hours without A/C? If it means I won’t have this problem again, we will sweat it out a bit longer.

Now the real fun begins…haggling with the home warranty company, discovering if Bailey’s Heating & Air is even a legitimate licensed company, and trying to figure out where in the budget I’m slashing to make up for the new $12,000 expense.

Exhausted but hopeful,

Cheers!