13. May 2022 · 2 comments · Categories: Domestic

It has been almost a year since the day after Wee Jamie was born, a day that I spent at home because the AC ceiling unit had overflowed the drip pan, saturating and collapsing part of the den ceiling. The trusty local company which installed the whole HVAC system in the first place almost ten years ago had to reinstall a new evaporator coil as the existing one was ruined, a new line connecting the outside condenser, compressor and fan, the coolant line had been dinged somehow during the siding install, and a drain to the nearest outside flower bed. At that time, a year ago, they suggested making a full sweep and replacing everything, including the outside condenser, etc., but I winced at the cost and opted for the minimal fix. And the darned outside condenser/compressor/fan gave out entirely over the Mother’s Day weekend, in the face of an expected heat wave. Sigh. You’d think that something like an HVAC system maintained by the installing company could have lasted longer than a decade, but this is Texas; great for men and dogs but hell on women, horses and, apparently, HVAC systems. We had no HVAC drama for the whole year until last weekend. (The condensation drain used to get plugged pretty regularly, until it was re-routed – to our exasperation, and that of the techs, who used to have to show up every couple of months.)

The good thing is that my credit rating is recovered to the point where I can get favorable terms for a better-quality system – quieter, smaller, and more efficient … plus they promised to fix an ongoing problem with the front bedroom, which has always been either hotter or cooler than the rest of the house. The other good thing is that I had finally paid off two loans for previous work, which gave my budget some (fleeting) elasticity. The third good thing is that we got several hefty discounts – one for having been loyal customers for a decade, another for referring a good friend who bought a system from the company based on our good word, still another for senior citizen (hah!) and veteran, and a fourth hefty rebate from the energy company. It is my profound hope that with the new system – and taking into consideration the new siding and the windows – that I really will see a substantially lower energy bill this summer. The bill for April was the pits; we only ran the air conditioning for half the time, or two days out of three, but the kilowatt hours consumed were nearly as much as the hottest month around here, which is August. Possibly the condenser/compressor/fan failing had a lot to do with this. I hope so. They topped up the blown-in insulation, which ought to help with the bills.

Another very promising thing is that the outside unit is about a third the size of the previous one. It mounts to the side of the house, rather than on the ground on a small pad, which keeps it above the dirt and all, and allows a bit more of my yard to be used, without that big hulking square thing taking up precious garden real estate.

And the final bit of good fortune? About a year ago, I scored a deLonghi portable AC unit for the price of a customer review, knowing that we might have a need of it someday. It didn’t have enough oomph to keep the house cool, but it did chill one 15 x 11-foot room quite nicely, It turned out well that we had that portable, for there was a problem with the new smart system, in that it didn’t actually work, at first. As my daughter remarked, ‘never mind about a smart system that doesn’t work, what about a moron system that does?!’ We’ve been miserable all week, waiting first for the installation, and then for the last in a series of expert techs on Friday to sort out why the brand new out-of-the-box modules – apparently some connection came unconnected in transit from the factory, such a rare occurrence that the regular install technicians didn’t expect to see, and the factory support functions are in another time zone entirely, so someone working on our unit in the late afternoon or early evening was SOL when it came to expert human tech support. Praise be, the installation supervisor arrived first thing this morning, and went over the inside and outside units, reprogrammed the whole system, and for the first time in a week, it’s comfortably cool in the house.

And the contractor who promised to do the back fence actually arrived first thing this morning – so although my bank account will be cleaned out for the next week to pay for work done – the back fence and gate is under construction even as I write. At long last; we’ve been waiting on that since early in March!


  1. I feel your pain. I have lived in a house without air conditioning for 28 years. I live in the West Los Angeles area, meaning that it is feasible to get by without it, but the heat waves are still not fun. Yours must be worse! I will never forget landing in Dallas in August, stepping off the plane and feeling as though I had been covered in a blanket soaked in hot water.

  2. I know – none of our houses on the west coast had AC – a window unit in the den in one of them, but otherwise, it was OK, since it always cooled at night. My house in Ogden had a swamp cooler, since it got very hot and dry there … but South Texas is unendurable without AC, although I do wish my house had better air-flow throughout, with windows all the way around to catch whatever breeze there is.