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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Weird Wednesday: Uncool Behavior

Our air conditioner has been giving us fits of late. Air conditioners, in case you did not know this, are all members of a sinister secret society that is sworn to act according to certain rules. One of these is to never, ever break down in the dead of winter, or even when it's kind of warmish outside. No, the only time air conditioners are allowed to break down is when it's 102 in the shade and the air cannot be safely distinguished from water. (Unless, of course, it's also a heat pump, in which case breaking down in midwinter is strongly encouraged.)

Another rule of the Air Conditioner Code is that one can never break down in an ordinary way, like by having a freon leak or by needing its condenser hose unplugged. One must always cause headaches for both the owners and the repair guy by being as obtuse as possible as to what is actually wrong. Our air conditioner, by the way, is brand new. We had it installed last October. Since then the repair guy has been out here three times, once for a gas leak, once because it was running prolifically but producing no cool air, and then this crazy thing.

It started off rather innocently, as misbehaving appliances sometimes do (unless they're ranges). We'd get home and the house would be around 80 degrees. Not that unusual, considering it's 102 in the shade and the air is--yeah. I mean, really, 20 or 25 degrees and you're doing pretty good. But, again, this is a brand new unit. It's running full tilt. Is that normal? Or should it get to stop and rest once in a while? Do machines need to rest? I am not sure, but I do know that air conditioner units sometimes freeze up if they run too much.

Anyway, the next couple days we came home and it was 82. Still not too bad, but starting to get annoying. Then one night I woke up and it was 85. At three in the morning. It was actually cooler outside than it was in the house. At this point I started to consider that there might, possibly, be something seriously wrong. Again. I opened the closet where the a/c lurks and got the shock of my life. Huge quantities of water were pouring down the side of the unit and puddling all over the floor. I don't care how hot it is outside, that is not normal.

So the repair guy came and determined we must have the ever-popular Blocked Condenser Hose. The compressor is supposed to shut off when the hose is blocked, so that it won't, uh, flood the closet. (Like it kind of already had.) He pumped some compressed air through the thing, got it draining properly and charged us $50 bucks. I cleaned up the mess, which is usually my job when these things happen. The next night we came home and it was--85 degrees in the house again.


So I called the repair guy back and he came back over. He inspected the unit for possible ice lock. Nothing. Just in case he turned the heat on, raising the temperature to a nice balmy 87. Then he went outside, messed around with the freon, tapped on things, fiddled with other things, and came back in with a temperature gauge that he proceeded to hold up to all the vents in the house. "Well, it's cooling," he decided, "but not very much."

Which meant what, exactly? Well, after two hours he still wasn't sure. His best guess at this point was that (obscure part) had gone bad, but he didn't have one on him and the store didn't open until eight in the morning. He'd be back then. This was fine; Caesar the Cat really likes him. But we got to spend a third night lying under fans without much by way of clothes on and cursing our continued existence.

The next morning the repair guy, who by the way is a saint, was back with (obscure part.) He popped it in and within seconds, the temperature started dropping. He shook his head in puzzlement. "I've never seen one of those go bad before," he said. Well, they do if your unit is a member of the sinister secret society of air conditioners, but I decided not to bring that up.

Total charge for four hours of labor, poking, prodding, hose clearing, freon enhancement, cat-fussing-over, (obscure part) and three service calls: $50. (Obscure part) was still under warranty.

Now I ask you: How weird is that?


Cele said...

This is the point where I am eternally thankful I live in non-aircondition territory. You have my sympathy.

Jen said...

Next up, the water heater.

AuntSally said...

You got a terrific price! Twice every summer I pour 1/2 to 1 cup of undiluted Clorox down the drain pipe that's next to the air conditioner in the closet. The bleach keeps any deposits from stopping up the line. Also, pour some Amdro ant killer down the middle of the compresor unit, outside, (when it's not running) once or twice a summer. Ants can, an do, get into the base of the compresor and chew through the electrical circuits. Then it's bye, bye cool air till you get it replaced. Hope this info is of some help.

Junkill said...

*sniff* I love a happy ending. And as heat-averse as I am, a nice cool house is VERY happy!