The Random Yak

One Good Thing OTP: Air Conditioning

Filed under: Just Yaks — Random Yak @ 1:03 pm on June 23, 2008

Global Warming has hit Sacramento hard.  And I’m not talking about the namby-pamby, polar-bear stranding, one degree a year type global warming that has Al Gore raising his carbon-guzzling mansion on stilts.  This is massive, 20 degree-a- week, melt your M&Ms before you get to the car and stick your rear to the seat warming.  An emergency of major proportions. 

Less than two weeks ago, I sat lazily on the back porch, enjoying a 75-degree afternoon and barbecuing steaks for The Random Family.  Yesterday afternoon I hoped the hundred-degree heat wouldn’t wilt my anaheim chiles on the (proverbial) vine.

And speaking of wilted … our air conditioning unit has apparently chosen this week to prove just how well an outdated and underpowered system copes with temperatures beyond its 30 year-old capacity to cool. 

Now, some might say this represents the foreseeable result of homeowners too cheap to replace the darn thing the year they moved in (largely due to the hope that the thing would wheeze its way to a reasonably quick death, forcing the home warranty company to replace the HVAC unit on their dime).  I’ll own that.  The prospect of dropping $10,000 on something the warranty will replace for $55, if we only have the patience to wait for it, didn’t sit well with my conservative nature.  Three years and five service calls later, however, the blasted thing just won’t die.

Not that it works, exactly, but it works as well as a unit two tons too small for the size of the house can be expected to, and that’s all the warranty covers.  (Note: we knew it was too small when we moved in, and also knew the warranty covered existing equipment functioning “as intended”)  It even works fairly well when the outside temperature doesn’t exceed 90 degrees.  Only one problem: the current and forecasted temperatures significantly exceed 90 degrees.

Which leaves me on the horns of the proverbial dilemma – a creature far more unruly than even the most recalcitrant yak.  Do I force The Random Family to endure yet another sweltering summer at the mercy of The Thing That Would Not Die, or pony up Ten Grand to replace the thing, conceding partial victory to the home warranty system (they’ll still have to cover the new one) and pleasing the family beyond words.

I think you all know what choice I made, and (within a 5 minute margin of error) how long it took me to get there.  Updates on the new system forthcoming, as soon as we finish the estimate process, make a final decision and get installation under way.

Because I don’t care how much you claim to enjoy a nice, dry heat, how many pennies you pinch, or how many popsicles it takes to cool a hot, tired and frustrated family to an acceptable temperature.  (The answer, for the curious, is “more than you can fit in a car that size”).

When it’s 105 out, Air Conditioning is One Good Thing.

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16 Comments

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  8. Yep. We’re on the cusp of making a similar decision. In our case, we’ll probably dispense with the central air system we have in place, because the expense of replacing it with a properly zoned central air system just doesn’t make sense (our house is already valued beyond all reason, we have two very, very different zones, including the finished basement that needs almost no cooling, except on extemely hot and humid days, and I do mean EXTREMELY–and then les than the rest of the house.)

    So?

    Three separate mini-split units will allow sensible zoning, high efficiency (one will likely be off 90% of the time, anyway, and another need be run for only about 8 hours at a time), and at less than half the cost of replacing our old central air unit. The wireless remotes keyed to each will just be a nice lil plus. And if we wanted, we could always “balance” the zones by simply leaving the central air fan on (nope, not removing the entire unit, cos the gas heater’s still good and very efficient. We may revisit that if natural gas prices get out of hand, though)

    Of course, this only works well because of our particular floor plan. A neighbr with a similar floor plan that has one significant difference would need four mini-splits to do the job we can do with three.

    Comment by David — June 24, 2008 @ 7:35 am

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  12. Sounds nice – wish our problem resolved as easily. Unfortunately, we have a long, open floor plan – great for living in, not so good for split cooling purposes. To the positive, it looks like the new system can get installed before the end of July, which is definitely a plus.

    Comment by Random Yak — June 24, 2008 @ 11:56 am

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