At Home: New HVAC system prompts heated discussion

I would like the record to show: I was against replacing our heating and air conditioning system. For once, my husband wanted to spend money on a home improvement that I didn’t.

I come from the if-it’s-not-broken-don’t-fix-it school. DC comes from the let’s-not-wait-till-it’s-a-problem school. I also prefer buying home improvements you can see, not ones you work to hide.

I further blame the HVAC company. (We’ll call them Company No. 1.) Last year when a service representative from Company No. 1 came out to see why our system wasn’t cooling, he found a slow refrigerant leak. He also took pictures of the inside of our 18-year-old unit, which looked like a mushroom pizza. He did this to scare me.

“What are all those spots?” I asked.

“Corrosion, mold,” he said, casually.

If we wanted cool air (yes), our choices were to spend $500 to replenish the refrigerant, or spend $13,000 (cough, sputter, hack, sell a kidney) for a new system — or we could buy a Company No. 1 membership for $200, and save half on the cost to replace the refrigerant, and get two free service maintenance calls in the coming year and a discount on future purchases. Swayed by the immediate savings, we bought the membership and replaced the refrigerant.

Then came the phone calls. Company No. 1 kept wanting to schedule a service call. I kept putting them off. Finally, they got through to my (now working from home, thanks to COVID) husband, who succumbed.

“Why?” I said. “You fell in their trap!”

“We already paid for it,” he said.

“They are just trolling for business!” I said. A career in journalism has turned me into a bitter sceptic.

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“They are doing their job,” he said. His sensibleness can be infuriating.

And what do you suppose happened? They recommended we replace our old, falling apart, rusty, corroded unit. And guess who took the bait?

“But it’s not broken!” I argued.

“But it will be,” he said. “I don’t want it to go down during a heatwave, when service companies are booked for weeks, and listen to you fuss because the house is so hot.”

DC got an estimate from Company No. 1, who was not on my good side.

“At least get another estimate,” I said.

DC called Company No. 2, who offered a better system for the same price. Despite our member discount, Company No. 1 could not meet or beat the offer, which gave me some small satisfaction that I cannot quite explain.

The new system went in last week. The air in the house feels exactly the same.

To feel better about foregoing vacations for the rest of my life to pay for new machinery, I talked with Kellie Lindenmoyer, furnace product manager for American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning, who cooled me off and answered these homeowner-related questions:

How often do HVAC systems need replacing? Typically, systems last 15 to 20 years, especially if serviced regularly. How often you use the system has an impact. For instance, a system in a vacation home that you use three months of the year won’t …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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