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

Floor Money, Floor Life – Part 2

So. Floors. More specifically the carpeting. I apologize for the 4 million pictures on my last post but it was necessary to show exactly how things were.

It took us an extra week but we finally have gorgeous new flooring and carpeting. It was supposed to be a back to back install. Vinyl one day and carpet the second. Instead there was a slight weather-related hiccup with getting the carpet installed. 

Plans. Heh. Why do we even bother sometimes?

Carpet install day arrived, pouring rain and all. The installer team was concerned about delivering in the rain and us not having a space available (at the time) to cut the carpet indoors. We rescheduled for Saturday. 

Day three arrived with the prospect of carpet installation but sadly it ended with a no-show no-call. We were expecting a late afternoon/early evening arrival but apparently they got tied up on another job and it put them quite a bit behind schedule. Whatever happened to delay them so much during that day, we will never know. I will say that the company’s handling of the situation was professional and prompt, filing a ticket and calling us back quickly to reschedule with priority status for our new install day.

As promised, we were the first appointment for the following Saturday. The install team showed up at 9 and they were quick and efficient, even being kind enough to haul away all the old carpeting as well as leaving the extras for us at our request. (There will be cat tower building in our future. Hopefully sooner rather than later due to the hubby is threatening to turn the cats into Chinese food if they tear up the new carpet.)

Now we have beautiful, soft, new carpeting in both hallways and up the stairs. Another big upgrade from the dingy, worn down carpeting that came with the house.

(Yes the old stuff is quite dirty from the remodel but since they were going to yank it up and haul it away, we figured why bother vacuuming.)

The worst part of this whole flooring experience wasn’t the cancellation and install pushed back or even having my hardwood and laminate dreams dashed once we found out how bad the subfloor really was or the fact that the cost was at least 2.5x’s more than we had hoped for. The hardest part was getting everything prepped and ready for the installers to come out. Pulling up the carpeting itself was easy enough. Getting it rolled and stored out of the way, slightly more work but still not terrible. No. The worst part of this whole process – removing the tack strip and staples after the carpet was up. If you’ve never had to do this, I pray that you never will because staple pulling can be quite hellish.

I felt like one of those characters from Greek mythology who were forced to spend eternity doing labor. Specifically, the guy whose punishment consisted of rolling a huge boulder up a rather steep hill only to have it roll back down before he could reach the top and he’d have to start all over again. An eternity of useless effort and endless frustration. Except for me, it was every time I thought I cleared an area, I’d find more staples, as if they had magically reappeared just to torment me. Okay so maybe I’m exaggerating a bit. It’s not really quite as much of a soul sucking torment as all that but it was incredibly tedious and it most certainly made my knees and back ache. In the end though, the labor, the pain, the cost was worth it all. 

This is the kind of renovation I love, the kind I live for. Pretty new floors and carpet, picking out paint and trim which is next on our list. Not the crap of dry-walling uneven ceilings or the hazards of replacing light switches and outlets. If only things were always this way. One can dream right?

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!

Horse Fencing 101: SCIENCE …errr PROGRESS!!!

Morning y’all, don’t mind me … between what feels like two-full time jobs and 5-7 hours a day in the harsh sticky heat of the South I find myself jiving my inner Bill Nye the Science Guy.

It’s been a couple weeks since I last posted photos of the project’s progression from gently rolling weed-filled acres to a proper horse pasture. Now I’ll be straight with you, since I’ve still only access to our battery operated …you heard that right… push mower, it is still very much weed-filled acres, even higher than when we started however. (Lookin’ at you, rain!) BUT…all four sides have every third post set and concreted in place, all the corners posts are concreted in as well as our pasture access gate posts.

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Posts going down to the edge of the southeastern side of the pasture.

Now before I get too excited, as pictures can be quite deceiving, for maximum strength and lowest strain placed upon each individual post, we elected to space our posts 10′ apart. So right now, every 30′ there is a post. So it looks like we’re ready to attach fasteners and start unrolling the CenFlex but alas… I’ve still a solid 60 posts to set and backfill with our gravel/sand mixture.

Now that…THAT in itself is the right bugger of this project. On average once loaded up with backfill our wheelbarrow weighs about 50-60lbs. Hauling this up and down a 4 acre hill is a terrifyingly spectacular thing to witness…at least when I’m the one doing it. A few trips ‘down’ and I start envisioning myself just tipping over or the wheelbarrow tire going flat. A dozen trips ‘down’ and I start to imagine sitting on top and magically riding it down and squealing to a stop just before the post hole. Like I said, I spend a lot of time in the sun doing a simple but very tedious task over and over and over. Your mind starts to wander.

…to be continued.

Lawncare 101: More Harsh Realities

There’s that old saying, “Sometimes you have to break it down before you can build it up again.” At least I think that’s how it goes. Anyway, I think I’ve mentioned how much I love/hate spring time. I mean, I love the growing part and everything getting green and pretty. Everything up to that point I could do without. Like our lawn. Our poor half dead yard at which I’ve been raking and digging and pulling weeds and dead crabgrass  – hence the uh, breaking part.

I mean, there’s been a lot of reseeding too but so far not a lot of results beyond a few sprouts. Out of all the things we’ve invested our money in, the yard has produced the least results. Every time I think I have a handle on things, I get thrown for a loop.

And with everything going on inside, combined with some very crazy spring weather, I have barely even touched the garden. Here it is mid-may and not a single thing has been planted and what weed pulling I’ve been able to do has been very sporadic. I feel a repeat of our first year coming on. img_20170516_125805750-e1494955393109.jpg

Now a few things survived the winter, which thankfully, is pretty mild compared to the midwest winters I grew up with. At this point, maybe I’ll just leave the garden be and focus on the lawn? Hmm… Maybe I just wasn’t meant to be one of those green thumb people? On the list of things I’d gladly hire a pro to handle, my yard is at the very top. Will I get the satisfaction of doing it myself and seeing all my hard work pay off? No. But I’m good with that.

One of these days I’ll have a pretty lawn and a nice garden I swear.. One of these days…

Fencing 101: Real Talk

In every DIY project you undertake, no matter how big or small the job is, there will always be a pivotal moment in which you ask yourself, “Am I still glad we chose to do this or am I filled with regret?” Now generally speaking, I’m a ‘you can’t cut the wind from my sails’ kind of gal but let’s just say that the previous gust propelling us through this project has dwindled to a passing breeze.

Now I can assure you that these long labor-intensive hours spent beneath an unforgiving sun haven’t curbed my enthusiasm, even seven weeks in. Why? Because this equestrian CANNOT wait to have her horses home and grazing in her front pasture. I envision watching them enjoying a summer morning as I’m looking out my kitchen window. That vision, …that alone… has kept me moving forward through every conceivable problem that can happen when trying to muster manpower, funds, time, and energy to put in 4 acres of pasture fencing.

So what did it? What has me so deflated?

Our friend that we hired to help us? …well he had to quit today. His new job is going to lessen his availability and while we are thrilled for him and this new opportunity it unfortunately has left myself and the Mr. holding the bag when we’ve SO MUCH work to do and two weeks left till the horses come home.

What’s a girl to do? Well, this particular girl wasn’t having it. I’m not a quitter, never have been and I don’t intend to start now. So instead of wasting time moping and stressing, which solves every problem (said no one ever) am I right? I grabbed the shovel and wheelbarrow and started shoveling backfill gravel like a woman possessed.

Five hours under that sun, a bad glove-edge tan line, and bug bites from here to New Zealand (hi kangaroos!) I have another 11 posts set in concrete and 10 more, that were set yesterday, backfilled with gravel and sand.

That’s right, this gal has ALL of the concreted posts -done-. Now…we still have another 60 or so posts to set with gravel and sand BUT…just let me have this little triumph born from sheer Irish stubbornness.

Now if you would please pardon me, I’m going to go collapse on the sofa for a ‘Netflix and chill’ kind of evening.

Until next time!

~Christy

Floor Money, Floor Life – Part 1

One of the biggest hurdles in completing the front section of our house has been the floors. The majority of the house is carpeted, notable exceptions being the kitchen and bathrooms and a few small sections of linoleum near the exterior doors. A month-ish, maybe longer, into owning our new house we pulled up the linoleum and carpeting in the front hallway, partly due to the fact that it was peeling up at the corners and partly because we considered it just plain ugly.

So a month-ish, maybe longer, into owning our new house we pulled up the linoleum and carpeting in the front hallway, partly due to the fact that it was peeling up at the corners and partly because we considered it just plain ugly.

And it’s been that way for the better part of the 3 years we’ve lived here, that section of the house has had bare floors.

Being that our house is approximately 100 years old, I had hoped and prayed that there would be beautiful or at least salvageable wood floors underneath the carpet, even though what we had seen so far was slightly less than hopeful. But as we’ve learned thus far, what we hope for, plan for and what reality gives us are very different things. So we made a backup plan: we’d buy laminate flooring from the local big box home improvement store and lay it ourselves to save some extra money.

Then last month we pulled up the carpet in our future rec room, and all dreams and hopes were immediately dashed. While there was indeed wood flooring underneath, it was not in any kind of “nice hardwoods” salvageable condition.

We even found concrete used as a leveler between different sections of the house as shown by the pictures taken at floor level. Concrete??? What in the…..??? Why?? Just why???

In spite of that setback, we sallied forth with our plan to lay laminate and consulted with the flooring department at our local home improvement store, getting a rough cost estimate based on the size of the rooms and halls we wanted new flooring in.

While we really appreciate the effort they made, we eventually decided that it just wasn’t the best option for us. As with everything else in this house, nothing goes according to plan. With the condition of the floors, the added hiccup of concrete covered areas, and the floors not all being completely level or even the same heights, doing it ourselves just wasn’t realistic. As the big box store’s valiant effort, they really did try, but they simply weren’t able enough to handle all of the “what in the heck happened here?” stuff that had been discovered when we pulled back the carpet. Finding a flooring specialist who could better advise us on how to handle our uh…interesting… situation became our next priority. (Ah the endless questing. Did I just step into a real life MMO?)

 flooring specialist who could better guide and advise us on how to handle our uh…interesting… situation became our next priority.

Empire Today flooring was where it was at. As skeptical as I was going into it – their free estimates and tv commercials all seemed a little too good to be true – but I checked my doubts we called them anyway. And we were pleasantly surprised. It was a good experience. They were very helpful, informative, and communicative not only with helping us select the right products for our home but also with keeping us in the loop. In spite of all that we were still terrified they’d come out take one look at our floors and run for the hills. But no, they stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park so to speak, covering the subfloor and leveling the floor a bit more with wood.

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Final product: wood look vinyl planking. Both durable and flexible enough to cover the imperfections in the subfloor. I am super impressed not only with the appearance but I love that you can’t even tell how messed up the sub floor is by looking at it. Yes, there are still areas where you can feel the dips but that fact that they aren’t visible is a huge improvement over what previously existed.

My lunch is calling so I’ll sign off for now. Flooring part 2 still to come!