Showing posts with label furnace. Show all posts
Showing posts with label furnace. Show all posts

Monday, September 17, 2012

Perhaps I am just defective

Would you like me to write you a check? How about you over there? Or do you prefer Visa?

Someone told me, right after I bought my house, that your house and your car secretly conspire with each other to have problems at the same time. September has been EXPENSIVE. Between refinancing, freaking out about mold, and having the ducts cleaned, my wallet is hurting.

My car got hit by another hit and run last month, while sitting in front of our house. They took off my driver's side mirror, which I later found hiding in the hellstrip. $247 later and I feel like I should never park my car on any public Portland streets, ever. This is after I just got my car repaired from the last hit and run.

I had Garrett out from Mold Testing Services of Oregon to inspect the house for evidence of mold that could be triggering my allergies ($450). I told a friend that I don't know what I fear more: that they'll find a horrible mold infestation or that they'll find nothing and it will turn out that I'm just one of those wheezy asthmatic kids who can't play tetherball because my lungs are stupid.

He spent two hours using a moisture sensor and crawling through the crawlspaces and attic, as well as combing every inch of the basement and the rest of the house (even the closets, ack). He had some suggestions but returned no smoking gun. He ran two air culture tests, and he expects them to come back normal. He said this is a very well built house. I gotta say, this guy was so nice to work with.

He said it seemed like I did a good job installing the laminate flooring in the basement and sees no reason to remove it. GO ME. Score one for doing it yourself.

He recommended tightening the toilet bolts because, despite replacing the wax ring and using a dime to shim the toilet, it's still rocking. I can't believe my dime trick didn't work. He suggested calling a plumber so they could do it right. Score one for calling in a professional. He said to get rid of the carpet on the basement stairs because, no shit Sherlock, it's disgusting.

He recommended an air purifier for me, which should help my allergies tremendously. Who wants to bet I should have just done that and called it a day? He also said that the soil grading in our yard was fucked up (the dirt slopes toward the house instead of away from it). Do you want to know where it's fucked up? Right where that guy drove his bobcat through our yard to remove the concrete slab. I'm fairly certain that most of the world's problems can be traced back to that unlicensed jerk riding his Bobcat of Destruction through our yard. Cholera epidemic? That guy. Hurricanes in the south? The weather gods are punishing us for hiring that guy when he probably wasn't bonded.

While we were exploring the basement we noticed that there was water all around the furnace. The condensation pump had misfired, overheated, and melted in places. I initially thought the guy from Power Vac broke it but Jacob's (who installed my furnace) said it was just funny timing.

Ha ha ha ha! Hoo. Ha. ($275) I'm laughing so hard I'm crying now! But I am grateful it didn't start a fire. I'm glad I was in the basement with the mold dude and we were looking at things with a critical eye. This is good.

I also went shopping with Scott this weekend, to Wind Dancer Garden. We had just seen Carolyn Kolb speak on ornamental grasses last Tuesday and she is a wonderful speaker. I cannot recommend making a trip to Salem to see her enough. She and her husband are incredibly sweet, the nursery is gorgeous, and they have all sorts of wonderful grasses and bamboos you can't find anywhere else.

13 big pots of grasses for less than $100. Gardening, I love you more and more every day. We also hit up Dancing Oaks and almost got lost outside of Monmouth, where surely the hill people would have murdered us. So that's a silver lining, too: we didn't get murdered by hill people. Now I just need a little bit of rain to make the ground workable. JUST A LITTLE, OREGON. DON'T START WITH THE FULL-ON RAINY SEASON JUST YET.

In conclusion:

  1. Don't park your car on the streets of Portland. 
  2. My house looks nice today. I paid a lot of money to hear that.
  3. If you have terrible allergies, get an air purifier and THEN do all this other stuff if it doesn't fix it.
  4. Carolyn Kolb is a groovy chick and you should totally go to Wind Dancer.
  5. I may just be one those dorky asthmatic kids, unable to eat birthday cake at school because I have a peanut allergy.
  6. If you do have allergies, Flonase is a life saver.
  7. I can't make any of the suggested fixes for a couple of months because I am out of money.
  8. My hard drive is making a funny noise. Isn't that funny timing?
But I am alive, mostly healthy, and still a very lucky girl. I'll quit bitching now.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The new furnace

I don't know why, but hiring professionals to do things makes me nervous.  The crew at Jacobs did a fantastic job on my furnace, but having to be present in the house while they installed got me all amped up.  What was that noise?  Does the fact that he asked X question mean that he doesn't know what he's doing? 

I would hate to work for me.  I'm particular, I ask too many questions, and I get my panties in a bunch at the drop of a hat.  The young man they sent over asked a lot of questions about where ducts should go, where venting should come out of the side of my house . . . things I felt he should know.  It turned out this is normal for them, that they like to arrange these things with the customer.  But at the time it seemed odd, and I came down after the first day to see the furnace looking like this:

With the white PVC ducting crossing in front of the furnace it looked . . . homemade. Like something I would build.  It really bothered me.  I suspected it would bother me for the next 25 years.  I started to worry that they had sent me an installer who didn't know what he was doing.  I called the company that morning and voiced my concerns.  They sent out a manager the next morning to smooth things over.

The installer agreed to redo the PVC exhaust so it would run behind the unit.  The manager was really nice, he assured me that everything was going well.  I was feeling better.  Then he told me, "Relax."

Have you ever had a contractor or repairman tell you to relax?  It makes me do the opposite.  It makes me angry; it's so dismissive.  Should a contractor ever stumble across this blog, DO NOT TELL WOMEN TO RELAX.

 In the end they redid the ducting and I'm very happy with everything.  The new furnace is so quiet you can barely hear it running.  I would use them again in a heartbeat, even if my blood still boils a little when I think about that stupid five letter word: relax.  Grrr.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Removing the furnace

One of the things that kept me tossing and turning the night before I put a bid on my house was the furnace.  It was original, it was huge, it was most likely not in working order.  It would probably cost between $3000-5000 to replace.

Fun little aside: when you buy a house people will walk through your house, pointing out things that need fixing.  Then they pick a number out of thin air and tell you that's how much it will cost to fix.  It doesn't matter if they own a house or not, whether they have actually completed the project in question, they will have a figure for you.  They'll sound like they know what they're talking about.

I always nod and then double the amount they say in my head.  This has worked almost every time.

But back to the furnace.  I knew it was going to be expensive, I just didn't know exactly how expensive.  I really grappled with whether to buy a house that needed a new furnace right out the gate.  I called two sets of friends, both couples who had bought a house in the last five years and had done a lot of fixing and remodeling.  They both assured me that this was not a deal breaker, that most houses in Portland would need a new furnace soon.  They totally talked me off the cliff and I so appreciated it.

I brought in a few bids for the furnace.  The first one was really expensive.  The second one was from Jacobs and they created a bid for a high efficiency furnace, as well as a standard 80% efficiency one.  With the current tax refunds, I could get  $1500 back from the federal government, $350 from Oregon, and $100 from the Energy Trust if I bought the high efficiency furnace.  Conveniently, the high efficiency furnace was about $1900 more than the 80% furnace, all of which I could recoup with the tax rebates.  I decided to do six-months-same-as-cash financing so I could put the set-aside furnace money in savings to earn a little interest.  This also gave me a cash reserve, should something catastrophic happen with the house. *knock on wood*

Once I had that figured out I scheduled to have the new one put in.  I opted to remove the old furnace myself because this would save between $500 and $1000.  By "remove it myself" I mean "call the guys."

The guys, they are amazing, beautiful friends.  But let's look first at the old furnace.  It was sort of beautiful in that I'm-from-1939 kind of way.

Are these guys still in business? I doubt it.


I made a huge breakfast, I bought a lot of beer, and I borrowed two sawzalls, an angle grinder, and a sledgehammer.  I also bought safety goggles and work gloves.  I made vague promises of destruction and demolition.

Unfortunately for the guys, they didn't get to use the sledgehammer.  They mostly got to use wrenches and screwdrivers.  We needed to keep the shell of the furnace intact so the ductwork wouldn't collapse, so they mainly labored on removing 70 year old bolts.

And oh my god, you guys, there were approximately 90 million bolts on this thing.

Stephen was SO AMPED to use the power tools.  Whenever a bolt was especially difficult to remove he would ask, "Should we use the angle grinder?"  I think they did actually use it twice, which was about 1000 times less than they would have liked.

I'm not going to lie.  My basement smelled like a locker room.


Once they got the door (which I kept) off  the front, they had to deal with the main burner.  Is it a burner?  The big heavy thingee.

We estimated this thing weighed about 750 pounds. I started to sweat about how we were going to get this thing out of the basement.

We got this flask-y looking thing off the back (more wrenching) and called a scrap metal collector from Craigslist.  He jetted over with a truck and a heavy duty dolly.

The six of them hauled that monstrosity up the narrow basement stairs, which was the most terrifying thing I've had to endure in a long time.  There is nothing worse than having to watch people do something dangerous when you can't help in any way, save from yelling, "Be careful!"

These sweet men labored all morning removing this thing and they were still so cautious about my new kitchen floors.  Scholars and gentlemen, every one of them.

Z ran 13 MILES before he came over to help and he still had strength to play air guitar.  Badass.

They looked like this all over.


Aren't they beautiful?

The whole process probably took about two and half hours, start to finish.  If I had to do it all over again I would not have asked my friends to do this.  The burner *did* end up containing asbestos and we were not wearing masks.  I will feel guilty about this forever and ever.

Now it was all ready for the new furnace to be installed.