When I bought this townhouse, I knew I wanted to replace the air conditioner. It worked, but it just didn’t seem very strong. It was on my list of many projects to tackle, but since it was the most expensive and it was still working okay, it kept dropping further down the list.
On Wednesday afternoon, my air conditioner broke. I turned it on, but no rooms were getting cooler. I put my hand up by the vent and I could feel cool air around the vent, but it wasn’t blowing into the room and there was very little of it. I went outside to look at the unit and, while the unit was humming quietly, the fan wasn’t spinning.
I googled AC repair companies. I didn’t pick the first one I came across, but I clicked through a few and found one with a nice website and some positive reviews. Gave ‘em a call. $69 service fee to come out and look at it but since we’re coming up on 5pm, it’s going to be after hours charges of $120. It can wait till morning, put me on the schedule.
(And it can wait till morning. It was getting warm, but I sleep under a pretty strong fan. It really wasn’t that bad.)
The tech came by the house on Thursday early afternoon and made his assessment. He speculated that it’s probably X and Y, but since the fan isn’t working, he’d have to fix something else just to get it to work for him to troubleshoot the other problems. The price of just fixing the something else to run more diagnostics? $1,500.
If I just wanted to replace the outside unit because it’s super old and he can’t believe it hasn’t failed on me yet because it was installed in 2008 and it’s almost 10 years old - it’s ancient! - $14,505. Oh, but wait, he can come down on that to $11,991. So, $12,000 or $200/mo for 60 months.
If I wanted to replace everything inside and out? $15,798, but he could come down to $14,224.
I was like, “That’s… a lot of money. That’s a car note.” (And it was. My first car was like $12,500 and I paid $210/mo for 60 months.) I eventually told him I’d have to think about it. Thanks for coming by. I paid the $69 service fee.
I texted my mom the price of $12,000 for a new one and my mom was like NO WAY! That’s absurd. You can buy one at Home Depot for $4,000 and pay someone to install it. I emailed everyone I knew who owned a home asking for a referral of someone they trusted. I got a few replies.
The second guy I called was a friend of a coworker who works with my mom. I called him and set up a time for him to come by later on Thursday.
I called a third guy, a coworker’s referral, but he said he didn’t service my area. That’s all right.
I called a fourth guy, a friend’s referral who said he was a long time family friend of hers. Totally trustworthy. He also lived a little far away (my friend’s family lives far away) but he asked me a few questions and talked me through a few things over the phone. He said it sounded like an X and Y problem and he’d charge about $750-850 to fix it. I had mentioned early on when he paused when I said where I lived that I totally understood if I lived too far (I’d already run into that earlier) and I had other recommendations to call, so it’s fine. He said if someone else closer to me can help me out, great, but if not, give him a call back and he’ll come out on Friday and take a look. I said thanks and I’d let him know.
I called a fifth company on the referral of a friend who raved about them. I scheduled a guy to come out later in the day.
I called a sixth company which happens to be owned by a coworker/friend’s husband. I had no idea he owned an AC company. They were booked up. I couldn’t get on their schedule until Monday. I went ahead and got on it just in case though.
By now, the second guy I called (the friend of a coworker of my mom) has come by. He’s checking everything. I showed him what the first guy wrote up. The second guy says exactly what the fourth guy told me over the phone and even quoted the same price! And he said it’ll totally work, no problem. Sold! He fixed it within an hour and the bill came to $800.
I was so happy. Oh my God.
I cancelled all the pending appointments I still had. My AC was now working! Glorious!
I kind of can’t believe that first company I called. He wanted to charge me $1,500 to maybe see what he could fix or $12,000 to replace it? That’s a scam. Everyone I quoted that price to laughed. There’s just no way my little 1,500 square foot townhouse needs an AC unit that’s $12-14,000!
Also, I was chatting with a friend who said 2008 is not old. The compressor in her townhouse is the original from 1988, the only thing that’s been replaced is the blower. With proper maintenance, quality products should have a long shelf life.
So that’s that. My first scam as a homeowner.
Also a lesson in preventative maintenance. If I’d gotten an AC check up a the time I purchased the house, this could’ve been caught much sooner and for cheaper, probably.