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May 29, 2007

Memorial Day Weekend

Whew. What a weekend. More work than play, but i'm very happy.

Saturday morning I get a wake up phone call at 7:45am from the granite people from All Granite And Marble. A man with a polish accent informs me they will be at my condo in 30 minutes.

I get up, and wait.

Four guys show up. 052907 002.jpgThey are all needed to lift the granite slabs, and take the elevator to my home. At one or two times, it was very close to being dropped, but they came through. The granite was put into place, and they were very efficient. They also installed a new undermount sink, and drilled holes for the faucet. They left and I was woozy from the glue smell that filled my apartment. But I had a real countertop, and finally could unpack my kitchen boxes, which were sealed for the last month.

Thirty minutes after they leave I get the next phone call. It's the delivery guys with my leather couch and leather chair with ottoman. They come in, and quickly drop off my items and leave. I'm unpacking these when I get another phone call from Fresh Direct. Fresh Direct drops off my groceries, and I finally have my refrigerator stocked with something other than beer and seltzer.

The rest of the day is uneventful, and I bartend that night to a dead bar. It was nice to get back a few regulars of the bar who also read my blog.

Sunday morning my sister, mother, brother in law and two nephews (and two dogs!), show up. This was my mom's second visit, and she came bearing housewarming gifts, which was very nice of her. My brother-in-law is very handy, almost as handy as my contractor, Sammy. I had a few projects that I wanted him to help me with, but the foremost project was my air conditioning.

When I bought my condo, my home inspector found that of the three wall mounted PTAC (basically an air conditioner and heat-pump unit) one was working, one had A/C but no heat and a third was dead). The owner credited me $1,800 towards fixing the air conditioners, based on an estimate from a HVAC repair man. I called the repair man after the close, and he told me the following:

1. Yes, one could "possibily" be repaired for $1,800 by getting a special circuit board and having him swap it out.
2. One was dead and to get that existing model and replace it would cost $2,200.
3. My total cost would be $4,000.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

I called at least five other HVAC people, asking for a second opinion. Most wanted to come to my condo, look the units over and give me a quote. I simply didn't have the time to do this, and with summer looming didn't want to be without A/C.

I then started to do my own research. I looked up the serial numbers of the unit, which were made by Carrier. The units were about 10 years old and the Carrier website gave me model numbers of compatible replacement units. Then, I searched for those replacement units and found that brand new PTAC cost about $700.

Hmm. I could just replace one unit for $700 and pay someone a few hundred to swap out my existing wall unit out. How much could that cost.

Again, I call multiple HVAC offices. Even with me purchasing the unit myself - they are all quoting me numbers that ranged from $800-2000 to replace my A/C. I was flabbergasted. Honestly it was like they were crooks and trying to steal from me. They were all claiming how hard it was to do and I am on the phone like, "Dude, you are taking an old unit out and slapping in a new unit. This will take you, at most, 20 minutes. No, no, no - you don't understand HVAC, sir. Blah, blah, blah.

I'm angry. Back when Dad was alive, i'd call him, he would know someone, and it gets figured out. Now with his passing it turns out that Mom is my new go-to person. Dad knew everyone in every field in Philly - from lawyers & doctors to HVAC guys & plumbers. My mother's contact list is basically the same, but smaller. She knew who to call right away - my brother in law, Dan.

Now Dan(*name changed) probably doesn't want me writing too much on here about him, but just to give you an idea about him - he's sort of like if McGuyver's and Bob Vila combined. Naval Academy graduate, Wharton MBA, and if you give him an instruction manual, tools, chewing gum, a felt tip pen, miscellaneous wires and time, he can basically construct most home projects.

Which was cool because as described above, I needed some A/C help and Mom knew who to call.

Just like that, he was on the phone assuring me it wouldn't be a problem to have him swap out the dead unit with a brand new unit. I went online, purchased a PTAC unit and it was shipped to me 7 days later.

Dan shows up, reads the manual, and before he does, I get an idea.

I may not know much about HVAC, but my 9-5 job does border on troubleshooting. I am good at directing techs on the phone, and eliminating failures, and isolating where "troubles" occur in technology. With Dan there, we start to work together, and we eventually figure out the following:

1. The PTAC that was "dead" is, in fact, working fine. We took a working thermostat, swapped it out with the other one, and found that out. So, I just needed a $50 thermostat to fix that problem.

2. The second PTAC, with the faulty heat, we swapped out with the third working unit. We took my new PTAC and put it where the old third working unit was located.

Problems solved...sort of. Turns out that the thermostat control for the new PTAC was for A/C, electric heat units and not PTAC heat-pump units. I have to get a new one, but its a $90 investment. That sort of put a damper on my joy, but considering that I spent about $840 ($700 PTAC, $90 thermostat connector, $50 thermostat) out of $1,800 I was credited by the seller, i'm still about $1,160 ahead.

Dan and I looked over the apartment, and he made me write a list of items we should get from Home Depot. We bought a garbage disposal, new hallway & kitchen lights, and some other odds and ends. He connects up everything, with me assisting as best I can. I finally have running water in my kitchen, and replaced my old fluorescent lights for incandescent ones in the hallway.

I actually learned a bit, too, about electric and wiring that I didn't know before. It wasn't too hard when you actually have someone there to show you how it's done. For example, I swapped out one of the hall lights myself, while Dan worked on the sink.

My family left Sunday and I thanked them for all their help. It was great to see them and especially great that Dan was so incredibly handy.

I cooked my first meal on Sunday night. I had prosciutto and melon appetizer, with chianti, 5 cheese tortellini, rag├╣ alla bolognese and topped with fresh grated parmesan cheese. I can't take credit for making the dish, it was from Fresh Direct, but delicious nonetheless. After that, I went to Moran's, met some friends and had a few drinks.

Monday was a relaxed day of me catching the last four episodes of "24", eating food, making a few red bulls and vodka, and napping on my new couch. I didn't step outside except to do my laundry, which were two washers and dryers down the hall and cost $1 per machine.

There are only a few remaining items for Sammy to fix at my apartment and the work will be complete. Chris the painter should be finishing up his work this week, too.

Next up - House Party!

Posted by Furey at May 29, 2007 12:48 AM

Comments

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Posted by: Valentino Author Profile Page at May 29, 2007 4:34 PM

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