Wednesday, November 12, 2008

They're In Cahoots

Well, about six months ago, my Doppelganger discovered that his old kitchen appliances were all in cahoots--several of them went dead at the same time.

I made the Karmic mistake of snarking off at his misfortune in the comments of his blog post. I should have known better! I really should have! After all, there's a reason we refer to each other as Doppelgangers. If something happens to one of us....

Well, this time it was our turn. In the space of about 24 hours last week:
  • We noticed that our central heating was blowing cold air, and...
  • One of our toilets overflowed just as we were heading out to church, and we didn't notice since we were all in such a rush to get into the car, and...
  • We discovered that the reason the attic fan didn't work was that it had never been hooked up to an electrical source, necessitating an electrician job, and...
  • The clothes dryer wasn't drying very well, and...
  • I discovered a small advance guard of ants in our kitchen. Smashed them flat, but you never know....
Well, we did get lucky on a couple of these. We got a handyman from church to do his thing to the attic fan; the ant invasion never materialized after we squished the scouts; and we discovered that the clothes dryer problem was what in The Industry we refer to as PEBKAC. (Both the washer and dryer had been set to unusual settings recently, and Tonya had just forgotten to set them back.)

Well, when we got back from church, and I was headed into the back of the house, I walked on the carpet just outside of the bathroom, and... squish squish squish....

Oh, great. Now what?

Well, a little investigation revealed what happened. The Pillowfight Fairy had finished up her potty time very quickly, because we were trying to pile into the van in a hurry, and hadn't noticed that the toilet had become clogged. So she rushed out of the bathroom and into the van, probably just before the toilet bowl overflowed. And I suspect that there were some other problems as well--I have never liked the way the particular tank mechanisms on our commodes work. At any rate, the nasty water soaked about eight to ten feet of the carpet in our hallway.

Well, it took a few days, but we finally got all that dried out. It involved lots of towels and many, many loads of wash (with a "malfunctioning" dryer), but eventually it all got dried out. Now it just needs a good steam clean....

But then, there was the central heating.

We have an Amana heating/cooling electric heat pump, since we're in an all-electric neighborhood. We bought the thing, replacing a much older unit, less than five years ago. And we've had our share of problems with it before, mainly due to the fact that we keep clogging up the mechanism with dust.

Now when we got the thing, we dutifully followed all the manufacturer's recommendations for changing the filter on the air intake--every four months, like clockwork. But apparently we're a very dusty family, because that's nowhere near enough with us. About a year ago the unit malfunctioned, and when the technician came out, he had to unplug all the vents in the thing, they were so clogged with dust. And then the thing ran fine. Apparently, it had gotten so clogged that it couldn't regulate its own temperature, so it went failsafe. But when the technician unclogged it, it ran just fine again. And we became warm and happy again.

So we resolved to change the filters a bit more frequently than the manufacturer recommended. For the last year, we've been doing it every three months instead of four. That should do it, right?

But then last summer we noticed that it was having a wee little bit of trouble keeping our house cool. It wasn't terribly bad; we've got a well-insulated house, and we have ceiling fans, so we can survive most of the summer around here. Sacramento does get hot, often up to 110 degrees, but it usually cools down in the evenings, and with strategically-timed window openings you can get that cool Delta breeze through here to make things tolerable. So when our air conditioner started having trouble keeping up we just made sure to check the filters a little more often, and we coped.

This worked fine until the weather got cold.

We noticed one frosty morning about two weeks ago that the heat pump was working and working, but the air was coming out cold instead of hot. So we got suspicious again and called a technician. He came and, sure enough, pronounced our vents clogged with dust. He cleared them out, gave us a good talking to, told us the unit would take several minutes to warm up, and went on his way with ninety of our hard-earned dollars.

It didn't warm up.

So we called them back, and a few very cold days later, they sent out another technician. This time he did a more thorough search, and discovered that the "reversing valve" had completely ruptured. Trouble is, this "reversing valve" lives deep in the bowels of the machine, where you have to take the thing apart to get at it. And then you have to do welding to put it back together.

Our heat pump had a bad case of appendicitis. Or Patent Foramen Ovale. Or something.

So, they ordered a new part on our behalf. It showed up, and... it was defective.

So they ordered another new part on our behalf. Meanwhile, it was cold.

Long story short (Too Late! cries the peanut gallery), they finally got the thing in today, nearly two weeks after we first called them. And wouldn't you know it, the weather is expected to be warm next week. ;-)

Well, we're still thankful. It's actually pleasant in here, and Tonya managed to catch a comfortable nap today. And we think the improved temperature is helping out with the colds that our two younger kids have been fighting off. It almost makes it worth the extra $1,210 (in labor only--the part is still under warranty) that walked out the door to keep the previous $90 company. Hey, we just noticed that it brings it up to an even $1300! Isn't that fortunate.

Ah, well. To my Doppelganger, the next time you experience misfortune, I shall attempt not to crack jokes at your expense. I shall instead nod my head sympathetically, and start spreading garlic about my residence to ward off evil things.

At least until the ants find it.


Big Doofus said...

I hate appliances. I'm convinced that they are all evil. In particular, I think that my kitchen refrigerator/freezer may be plotting a revolt very soon with the toaster oven.

Chris said...

Oy! My condolences on the rash of housely issues.

One note of clarification for the general public . . . while issues and events do have an amazing tendency to replicate on the two coasts between our households, there is one that will NOT. Mrs. Doppelganger West is blessedly great with child #4; Mrs. Doppelganger East is not. Three is a magical number here in the Mountain Homeschool, and three it shall remain.

Your non-blogging bloggerganger,

Timothy Power said...

Read Chris' comment, and had a good chuckle as I remembered those immortal movie lines:

...and the number of the counting shall be three.

Five is right out.