Friday, March 29, 2013

The Universe Hates Us

Yea, it's been one of those couple weeks. First it was car trouble, although I can't really complain about the Durango. Since I bought the thing used back in 2005, I've done absolutely nothing other than change the oil, tires and brakes. Not bad for a ten-year-old vehicle with over 150K miles. It was more to do with the timing, being in the middle of tax season and all. It wasn't even a major breakdown; the water pump crapped out. No big, right? A couple hours in the shop and back on the road.


See, Dodge has a special kind of water pump that doesn't just start leaking like every other water pump on every other car ever made. No, the Dodge water pump fails catastrophically and takes out everything on the front of the engine block and usually the radiator as well with flying debris. We actually got lucky and only had to replace the fan and fan clutch in addition to the water pump. Of course, we had to wait for parts, which meant bumming a ride to work for a week from my daddy like I was 15 working my first job at Burger King. The good news is that it's fixed and it didn't cost us our life savings.

That cannot be said of the second little problem. But first, I have to talk about the weather. It's been just plain weird with several days of 80 degree highs, then several days where it barely creeps up into the 60's. On one of the 80-degree days, I decided to flip on the AC just to make sure it was working after sitting unused since the end of September. As you probably have guessed, it wasn't. No big deal; we have a maintenance contract left over from the previous owners and the temps were due to swing back into the 60's. I called and scheduled a dude to come out and look at things figuring it will just be a bit of Freon and we'll be good to go. Then I get The Call at work. The system is completely empty. Just finding the leak and refilling the Freon (the old banned kind that costs several hundred dollars a gallon) will cost $1,000. If the leak is in the coil (which it most likely is), add another $2,000. And after all that, you will have a system that maybe will last another year or so.

I've been around the block once or twice, so I know where this conversation is heading. Me: "Cut to the chase, Dude. What's a new system going to cost?" Dude: "$4,500." Me: "When?" Dude: "Today." Me: "Do it." I do have to say that I was impressed at how fast these guys moved. Debbie handed Dude our credit card around 2:45PM. We had a new system installed along with a new thermostat, all new duct work, new electrical with lightning protection, and all the old stuff cleaned up and gone by 5:30PM. It was almost too fast; for $4,500 (which was our life savings) I would expect there to be enough work to keep a crew busy for at least an eight-hour day. The silver lining in all this is that now that the temperatures have cycled back into the 60's during the day and the 40's at night, we have heat. The old system was just an AC, so we've been relying on electric heaters to keep us warm on those cold, frosty Florida winter nights. Now it stays all warm and toasty by magic.

Work continues on the Florida room. Last weekend, my dad and I tore the front off and installed the sliding glass door that had been between the Florida room and the trailer. I have everything more or less sealed up at this point. This weekend, we'll be working on more of the detail work like insulating around the new windows, getting the stud work done so we can get the siding up on the outside and insulate the walls and hang drywall on the inside, and going nuts with the caulking gun to try to seal up all the places where you can look outside that you shouldn't be able to look outside. We're not sure where the money for the siding is going to come from now that our entire life savings went to a new central air unit, but at this point, we need to get that done, probably shortly after tax season is over.

And that's our life. And it's 57 days until Towel Day. Don't panic.


Anonymous said...

I hope you got a high efficiency system for your $. Last year when we added a 700 sq. ft. room to the house we replaced the 1980's gas furnace with a high efficiency one, added central a/c and a 2 stage evap cooler. And the much of the ductwork had to be replaced. $10k. The new furnace worked quite well this winter. Next year, new windows in the house sans addition.

Ric said...

The sales dude promised we would see a huge drop in our electric bill over the summer months. The problem is that a) this will be the first full summer we, or anyone else, has lived here so we don't have anything to compare it to; b) we replaced the plastic-with-holes windows in the Florida room with dual-pane windows, added six inches of foam insulation to the roof and insulated the outside walls to R-15; and c) I probably just knocked 20 or 30 bucks off the electric bill by finally getting our refrigerator somewhat level. We'll see how things go this summer.