Tuesday, October 19, 2010

ARS: The Evil Furnace Guy

I have two heating a cooling units that are 14 years old. Nothing good can come from that bit of information, but I had a $50 off coupon for regularly scheduled maintenance and I had let our AHS home warranty lapse for the year. The home warranty is a separate future blog post on the pros and cons of a home warranty. So back to the regularly scheduled maintenance...

I called ARS to schedule a winter switch over to heat. Since the units are old, they usually need the corrosion cleaned off, the heat coil and exchangers inspected for cracks, and checks on the safetys, etc. The first scheduled maintenance day...nobody showed. Nobody called.

*crickets*

I rescheduled for the following week and my technician shows on time, this time and immediately pulls apart the propane gas pack. After about a half hour on the unit, I check in with him and he immediately launches into a laundry list of issues with the unit. As I am dazed by the endless laundry list of issues with this unit, he smacks me with...

"the unit will burn your house down".

Me: Well...if it burns my house down, I won't be able to buy a new unit from you. I'll be dead.

Technician: The unit is working now.

Me: It's working? I thought you just said this unit was going to burn my house down?

Technician: We can discuss your options.

Me: Dead is not a option.

The technician moved on to the heat pump. Minutes later he reported that we were, "about to have a bad day up in the attic". Apparently, the pan that catches the condensation was full of water because the drain line was clogged. It was not overflowing because I had a switch installed some years before that would shut the unit off if that ever happened.

4 hours later...

We sit down to complete the paperwork and he runs through his recommendations and ends with:

"The gas pack will kill you as it spews carbon monoxide into your house".

He immediately got "dispatch" on the phone and tried to close the terror he had begun with a sales call. Flashes of being in a car sales office with the finance guy came to mind. "You have to buy today, because this unit will not be here tomorrow, and I have 10 people lined up to buy this very unit".

Yeah. Right. Walk. Away.

So that's what I did. I refused to meet with an ARS sales guy that same day. I called a friend instead, and he gave me a referral of her "guy". This "guy" is local, lives close to her, and installed 4 air units in her house. I called her "guy".

He showed up first thing in the morning, peeled back the gas pack lid and revealed that the insides of my gas pack are only 6 years old. There is no crack in the heat exchanger. The burners are brand new. He trotted into the house and TESTED for carbon monoxide and there was no reading of carbon monoxide in the house. We've lived in the house for 5 years and it looks as if the system was completely overhauled before we moved in. As far as the smaller heat pump is concerned, my second opinion said it is only worth it to let it die and then replace the entire unit.

All that makes sense to me.

But this makes this ARS guy an evil liar who was trying to wrangle me into two new units when I didn't need them "yet". So here's to you ARS:

1) You won't be honored with my service contract...ever.
2) You'll never look at another unit, drain, or whatever you work on...ever.
3) You won't be selling me two new units.
4) Your unethical sales tactics have now been featured in my blog :)
5) Countless people will read this post, which in no way can be retracted by you, ARS.
6) Quit trying to scare, terrorize or otherwise manipulate people into the sale of new units.

Evil guys finish last, ARS
~ The Serial Renovator

Monday, April 26, 2010

Flagstone Patio...2 Tons

I haven't posted since August, however, I've discovered I have a 6 month itch. No, not the kind of itch I need to see a doctor about, I don't think! I've discovered that the maximum amount of time I can go without a project to occupy me is 6 months.

Introducing my new project, the Flagstone Patio. The itch hit me about the same time as spring fever, no, still not the kind of fever I need to see a doctor about, I don't think! I wanted to put together something I could set my little fire pit on. I set it in the grass last spring for a dinner party and yes, it burnt the grass and thus a project itch began.

So off to the Landscape supply store I go. Of course I am surrounded by a bunch of men, all wondering what in the world I'm doing in a trailer office in their supply place. Obviously, they don't get too many girls hanging around the office. Except for the one behind the counter taking orders. She was a rough personality, a little gruff, with a whole lot of southern attitude. She didn't put up with any funny business on the phone or in front of her, and she had those boys hopping for her. When I asked for help, however, she didn't miss a beat in telling me she was too "dagg-on busy" to show me flagstone, but that I could go pick out what I wanted and come back and order it. She had confidence in me, and I now had confidence in her.

So that's what I did. Without a clue as to exactly how much I needed, I set about finding the biggest patio pieces I could. The following week, I had two tons of flagstone delivered, 5 cubic yards of granite dust, 25 bails of pine straw, and 13 cubic yards of mulch delivered. The delivery guy asked me with a deep southern drawl, "Where's your huuusband? Should't he be out here building you a flagstone patio?" All I said was, "Yes, sir, he's a hard working man!"

I knew this guy couldn't handle the truth.

My next post, I'll post pictures of the patio ;-)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I Need A Man

It never ends, I am knee deep into a project, and a realize I need something to complete the project that I do not currently have.

I've ripped out the old ceiling fan (a brass and white carcass, I might add, circa early 1990's) and only the old bracket remains still stuck in the ceiling. I removed one of the two screws holding the old bracket in...

and the other one won't budge.

I try the screwdriver,

I try the now charged cordless drill on reverse...with NO success.

I need a man.

I need a man with man like muscles to remove this screw, but he is out of town. I have to, once again, put the brakes on this project until my man returns from out of town.

That was mid July.

It is now mid August, and my man has been home for a month of Sundays and still has to remove this screw from the bracket. This is a prime example of why I am the one who tackles any projects around this house. My man has zero motivation for home improvement. If it works, it is fine and if it doesn't, that's okay too, but we might need to "call somebody".

So today, my man says to me "Is there anything we NEED to do today", and I say "YES, please get that screw outta the fan bracket" (for the 10th time in 4 weeks)and he says to me...

"What bracket?"

Hopefully, my next post will announce the successful installation of said ceiling fan...

Until I realize I need something else to complete this project.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

While the Cat's Away the Mice will...Upgrade the Light Fixtures

The Cat works from home. He needs his computer(s), his DSL, his phone, his task light, his air conditioning, and at feeding time, he needs the microwave and a cold drink. All of which requires electricity. For a few short days he is taking care of business out of the house...this is a VERY rare ocassion and one that must be taken advantage of. The mice will use this opportunity to cut the power and upgrade the light fixtures to avoid disruption in the Cat's normal routine.

I had the fixtures picked out and knew exactly where to get them. I was only replacing flush mount hall lighting fixtures for a total of 6 on three floors. I had enough time to tackle the first installation today and it was not without issue.

I removed the old fixture and pulled the new fixture from the box. Old fixture had a single black wire, a single white wire and a ground. New fixture has two black wires, two white wires, and a ground. After a complete review of the instructions in four languages, nothing explains what to do in this situation with the extra black and white wires.

I go to get on the internet to find the answer to my issue and the DSL...has no power.

I was reminded of the time the Cat, who's education is in Electrical Engineering, installed his first ceiling fan. We flipped the power on after installation and sparks and smoke rolled out of the fan.

Taking maters into my own hands and relying on my own intuition, I connected ALL the white wires together, and ALL the black wires together, and connected the grounds. By this time, it was 80 degrees upstairs with no AC. I knew the Cat would be whining if he was home, yes, this was a much better idea to not have him around while I attempt this DIY project in the middle of summer.

I flipped the power back on and voila, no sparks, no fire, just light. But my subconcious would not leave it alone. What if the fixture overheats and starts a fire at some point?

With the power back on, I searched the internet for answers. I searched, and searched, and searched. I found no answers to the question "What to do with extra wires", "multiple wires", "installing a light fixture" and every combination in between. The internet was very disappointing.

I did find something interesting though, www.justanswers.com. This is a web portal where you type in your question, your email address, and you submit with the notion that there are electricians online right at this moment who will immediately answer your question and email you the answer. Wrong notion.

I submitted my question only to discover that I was then prompted to "bid" on the answer.

WTF?

You mean like "Priceline"? YES! Like Priceline, I "bid" on what I would pay for a satisfactory answer to my question. My choices were A) $9, B) $39, or C) $69. I thought "Are you kidding me?"

Justanswers.com is not "Just Answers", it is just a scam. I am an information "seeker", not an information "payer". I am "seeking" information, not an education, MBA, PHD for which I would gladly pay for. But that's not all...

As I abandoned the web page that wanted me to bid on what I would pay for a satisfactory answer, it of course tried to stop me from maneuvering away from the page. I quickly checked my email and in the time it took me to submit my question, to the time I abandoned the site, Justanswers.com had emailed me three times. None of which, was of course, a free answer to my question.

Still not finding the information on the web, I turned to the fixture's instruction manual where I found a customer service phone number. Amazingly enough, I immediately got someone on the phone, I posed my wire question, she confirmed I had in fact installed the fixture properly.

What a relief.

Now, about that installation manual.

How come it is printed in 4 languages, but it does not tell me what to do in this instance with multiple wires?

Dead silence from the customer service representative.

She doesn't know, and she really doesn't give a flip.

I guess you have to take the good with the bad.

One fixture down, 5 more to go.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Grill Finale

Once I hurdled the rusted remnants, lacking parts, and seriously inept instructions I had to give the grill a good cleaning.


A quick search on the Internet proved no information for cleaning a stainless steel grill. Pathetic. There is tons of information, opinions, blogs, and home improvement web sites out there but rarely any proven real answers to real questions.




I read that you could "pressure wash" the grill! Why in the world would anyone do this? There is way too much power in those machines for a grill. A popular queen of clean said I could take aluminum foil and clean the grill, no, I definitely needed more power than that. Other suggestions included using Dawn Dishwashing Liquid. Would you use dish soap to clean the inside of your oven?



And then it occurred to me. Oven cleaner.




I sprayed the inside of the grill, minus the new parts, with oven cleaner, and after a few hours, I wiped it off to uncover 95% of the stainless steel grill.

The oven cleaner is not recommended for use on the grill...

but it totally worked!

The only thing I would recommend is in no way turn on the gas on the grill and I would not recommend allowing the cleaner to drip onto the lettering around the knobs and such. The cleaner will eat this delicate stuff right off. Also protect the patio or deck that your grill sits on from cleaner drips.

After cleaning the grill, replacing the burners, the cooking grate and the rusted out knobs, the grill looks almost brand new.



I lit it up...

and we have fire...

contained fire....

perfect fire for the first burger of the season!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Grill Continued...

Alright, maybe I'm not as smart as I think I am. Apparently, I need a "stainless steel" nut and screw...which, I'm told, will not rust. Not galvanized like previously thought.

I went to the warehouse today, and had two associates and one customer "helping" me decide what I needed.

I think the screws I ripped out of there yesterday were stainless steel though. I'm probably back a square one again...see previous post ;-(