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Crappy A/C Situation


After taking the day off work and dealing with sweltering heat (inside our home was 90 degrees), I was able to have two different A/C companies come out to look at the damaged A/C unit and give me their opinions. Folks, the news was not good.

Our brand new unit, not even two years old (put in as part of negotiations when we bought our house) is totally shot. Done-zo. The first repair guy thought the unit may have been struck by lightening. The second repair guy thought it was blown due to a power surge. We had some flooding with a recent monsoon that would’ve partially submerged the unit and the guy think it caused a power surge that blew the whole unit. Both companies agreed we would need to replace:

  • compressor & compressor plug (which was blown right off the compressor)
  • condenser coil

In addition to these, we’d have to fill the Freon, use an acid neutralizer, and I don’t know….give our first born child??? Ugh, typing it here it doesn’t seem like a long list but one repairman referred to the compressor and condenser as the “heart and brain” of the A/C. Both said it’d be better just to replace the unit all together. But we just can’t afford that. So we’ll repair it instead.

We thought about trying to file a home-owner’s insurance claim. We do not have a home warranty, but lightening is covered through home-owner’s insurance. Flooding, however, is not. It was a separate policy that we declined.

Since the unit is still super new, the main parts are covered (which, I was told, run about $2,000/each, so we really luck out there!). But for the items not covered by warranty (like freon, acid neutralizer, etc.) and the labor to do all the work, we’re looking at about $1100. Oh yeah…..and the condenser coil has to be ordered direct from the manufacturer. It takes TWO WEEKS to arrive. We agreed to pay a $150 rush charge, which will put it here in 5 days. But that’s still FIVE DAYS with no working A/C in the middle of a Tucson summer where temperatures are predicted to be up to 111 degrees!!!!

Not okay, folks.

We started to initiate a home-owner’s insurance claim (when we thought the damage was due to lightening), but I think we’re going to just close it out and pay ourselves. If the total ends up being about $1200-1300ish (that’s the estimate + rush charge to get the part here faster), it doesn’t really make sense to file a claim. Our deductible is $1,000 and I don’t think having the extra $200-300 “benefit” would outweigh the cons of having our insurance go through the roof and having a claim on our record. Is that what you guys would think? I’m open to suggestion here, head still a bit reeling from taking in the news that our brand new A/C unit is totally shot.

We still have the issue of being displaced for the next 5-6 days, too, though. We stayed in the house last night and it was one of the worst nights’ sleep of my life (taking me straight back to the day of having twin infants type of no-sleep). It was 88 degrees for most of the night, but it’s hot stale air. It felt suffocating. We all slept downstairs (the bedrooms are upstairs, but the upstairs was at least 5 degrees hotter than downstairs), and we all tossed and turned and sweated our butts off. It seriously felt unsafe and I’m not going to do it again.

I already booked a hotel to get us through the weekend (Fri & Sat nights). That’s another $100/night. This is serendipitous timing, but one of my old friends from grad school is moving back to Tucson on SATURDAY. He bought a 3 bedroom home but is a single guy so he has tons of space and not a lot of possessions to fill it. I already reached out, “I know it’s stressful timing since you’re going to be in the middle of a move…..but could we bring over some air mattresses and crash for a few days if needed????? Oh, and welcome back!!!! 🙂 ”

He agreed and said he’d be happy for us to stay. I hate to put a friend out like that, especially in the midst of their cross-country move. But he’s literally the only person I know in town who even has the space to house a family of 4. I’ve had a couple friends say they’d take the girls, but at this point (they’re 6), they still haven’t even had a slumber party and I’m kind of scared of/opposed to the idea. This is a bit different since it’s a safety related thing. Oh friends…I think you can see I’m kind of all over the place here, grasping at straws and trying for any reasonable band-aid of a solution to get us through the next week until our A/C is in working order again.

So that’s the update. Right about $1300 out of pocket (could be much worse, but the main A/C components are all warrantied). Even so…we literally don’t have an extra $1300 sitting around. Our “EF” right now is like $500. So this is a huge hit. I’m going to have to figure out something to move money around. It’s really bringing to light our dire financial situation. Obviously that will be the point of future blog posts but for now I’m trying to figure out the immediate crisis at hand. Our broken A/C.

Any thoughts or suggestions in terms of whether to try to file a home-owner’s insurance claim (again, we’re leaning against it….not sure it’d even be covered, but I’d like your thoughts) AND what to do in the meantime while we wait for the unit to be fixed? We’ve also thought of renting a portable unit – it wouldn’t help the whole house but might allow us to “camp” in the living room and sleep comfortably there? Thoughts? Ideas?


  • Reply Angie |

    Can’t you borrow, rent, or buy some portable ac or evaporative cooling unitsjust for a bedroom instead of the hotel? Go on your local free or neighborhood sites and plead your case. Surely someone will offer something uup.Iknow it seems hot. We live in an old house with no cooling and it’s regularly 90 inside all summer. We have a portable ac in the bedroom for sleeping o the hottest nights. After work or during the day we hit up free places like the library to pass the time not ideal but doable.

  • Reply Megan |

    Yeah, I wouldn’t go the route of a claim for something at that dollar amount. Your homeowners insurance will go up almost certainly and since the benefit you would be getting is only a few hundred dollars, you may still come out a net negative. We had to file an insurance claim last fall for a large water leak. We lost a discount for not having filed a claim to the tune of $80/year for the next 3 years. And we also now pay a surcharge for a little bit because our water claim was one of the most expensive kinds of claims that you can have. So yeah, you probably wouldn’t get a surcharge but you could easily lose a “no claim history” discount that would make it a wash at best.

  • Reply Reece |

    This situation is a great reminder to make sure you have a good sized emergency fund! Doesn’t Dave Ramsey say if you don’t have an EF you are basically inviting Murphy to come in and live with you?
    I’d add a budget line item ASAP to get that fund re-established. If you’d still had $1000+ in there it would have been a whole lot less stressful and you’d have more options….

  • Reply AS |

    Sorry to hear about the AC issues. You still may be able to run the “fan on” with “AC off” which will keep air moving, even though its hot it might be better than nothing.

    Compared to $500+ of hotel, buying / renting 1 or 2 portable AC units (1 bedroom, 1 kitchen/family room) seems worth investigating. Craigslist, or something like this – but ask if it will work indoors first:

    • Reply Ashley |

      This definitely seems to be the top suggestion! We did stay at a hotel last night, but I’ll look into this today!!!

  • Reply Joe |

    This is terrible. I’d second the notion of spending that $200 on a nice window AC unit and have everyone crash in a single bedroom for a couple weeks. Even better if you can find one used. You can store the unit as backup, or find somewhere to use it as an option instead of main AC if someone is home alone during day, for instance.

  • Reply Den |

    I would at least CALL your insurance agent to discuss. Depending on your policy, they may cover a completely new unit, all other costs, plus hotel rooms…..

  • Reply margann34 |

    Another vote here for the window a.c. units. Hopefully you can get it to a tolerable temperature. Maybe you can buy used or resell after your a.c. is fixed to recoup the costs. Try to spend the hottest part of the day at the library or somewhere with a.c.. Also, consider running window fans over night to bring some cooler air in. Get some of that reflective film for your windows to decrease the amount of heat that collects. So sorry you are having to deal with this!

    • Reply Ashley |

      We actually have reflective film on about half the windows (the other half of the windows have been replaced with new energy-efficient double-pane). All the blinds and curtains have been fully closed. Its super dark & depressing, but we’re trying to keep out as much heat as possible.

  • Reply margann34 |

    On second thought, reflective film is probably expensive. But even putting blankets up in the Windows will block some heat. You should especially do this if you have very large windows that get a lot of direct sunlight.

  • Reply shanna |

    Second a portable AC unit. Your local Craiglist may have them, or post on Next Door asking to borrow one. They can keep one good sized room really cold. And the cost of even buying one new versus hotel charges for an undetermined time may be worth buying a new one. And I find it strange that the home warranty won’t replace it completely. If you are getting a new one anyway, what do they suggest to protect it from further flood or lightening, is there better placement? A special cover or stand to put it on?

    • Reply Ashley |

      We don’t have a home warranty. I was talking about filing a claim with home-owner’s insurance.

  • Reply Walnut |

    It’s amazing what a window AC will do for a single room. Definitely post on all your neighborhood sites and find out if someone will loan you one they have around. We used one to cool our attic space when guests stayed and would certainly have lent it out to a neighbor in a pinch.

  • Reply First Step |

    Don’t call your insurance agent about filing a claim–even if you don’t file, it’s still noted in your record. For that small of an amount, it’s not worth the hit against your insurance record.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Well crap…..already called. We talked about coverage and options, but they’d want to send out an independent person to assess damage and determine cause. I personally am leaning toward the flooding likelihood (there’s no point of impact where you can see a lightning strike occurred). Sooooo, we got info and decided not to pursue (both due to cause/unclear whether it’d be covered & due to cost). I didn’t realize even having that conversation could be a hit against our record. That stinks, but no going back now.

  • Reply Laura |

    I hope you saw all the suggestions about a window unit before you checked into a hotel. You could also sell it after you get the AC fixed and get some of your money back. A hotel is expensive and should be an absolute last resort.

  • Reply shanna |

    Since you are looking at spending over $1000 anyway. Why not spend the deductible and have the entire unit replaced through insurance? It sounds like both companies recommended it. But I would dig deeper WHY a brand new unit wasn’t covered further-do you have the wrong kind of insurance, are they scamming you, etc?

    • Reply Ashley |

      Home owner’s insurance only covers lightening (not flood-related damage), so it’s questionable whether the expense would even be covered to begin with. IF they’d 100% accept the claim, then it might be worth it to replace the entire unit. But the warranty only covers the specific defective parts. Both companies said a full replacement would be good given the extent of the damage. But in terms of the parts warranty, they only replace the damaged part (and would not just replace the whole unit, for instance)

  • Reply Been There Done That |

    Oh, dear. Off to a hotel first without investigating a window unit. They are so reasonable! Ashley, Ashley, you have to THINK before you act! We have 2 window units in our small townhouse, and they really do the job.

  • Reply dh |

    It’s too bad you called your insurance, but it’s done now.

    I’m not at all familiar with where you live, but is there not a cooler room you could have all slept in for a few nights with either a fan or a window AC?

    Your girls aren’t infants. Frankly, I would have toughed it out for those few days, or maybe asked a close friend to take the girls overnight.

  • Reply Kate |

    Why would you not even look into standing fans or window fans for $100?? On Amazon you can get several for less than that and you could have fully cooled down one room which would not have been unbearable. A hotel would be a last resort! What a waste of more money that you do not have…

    • Reply Ashley |

      Have you been to Arizona in summer??? A standing fan would definitely NOT work. It’s literally been 115 degrees inside. I did, however, get some portable A/C units. More to come later.

  • Reply JayP |

    You people worried about the hotel expense lighten up! this is an emergency with kids, and its like 110 in Arizona in July. Unless you’ve been there don’t second guess! There will be a time to get finances in order. Good luck, and hopefully it will be back running in a few days! Heck I might even check with one of those extended places to see how much for 5 days…

  • Reply Erin |

    I would check into a hotel with zero guilt. Those temperatures are dangerous. Money never trumps safety. It’s not like it’s 80 and mildly uncomfortable. I think people go a little crazy with tunnel-vision, wanting to save money and be as thrifty as possible and forget there really are more important things.

    Window unit AC may or may not work well depending on the size of your rooms and the layout (can you close them off or is it an open floor plan). Anyway, I’m sorry you are running into this with such a new AC unit. It stinks.

So, what do you think ?