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Crappy A/C Situation

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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?


The Advantages and Disadvantages of Locking Your Credit

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In today’s internet-driven world, finances are a mixed bag. Online banking services and tools make it easier to manage your money, but it’s also given thieves more ways to steal from unsuspecting victims. I personally have had my PayPal account hacked in the past, but fortunately, PayPal refunded the money that was illegally withdrawn.

Another common cyber crime is identity theft. Luckily, I haven’t dealt with this ordeal directly, but I recently had a close friend who did. It was an absolute nightmare trying to undo the damage that was done to her credit after accounts were opened in her name. That experience has left me much more conscious about my own risk. In my quest to learn how I can better protect my identity, I found out about a few surprising ways people can control their credit reports. I was already familiar with the credit freeze service, but I discovered a credit lock was also an option.

A credit lock is very similar, but not quite the same as freezing your credit. If you’re seriously concerned that your identity has been stolen you can request a security freeze. This will prevent creditors from accessing and looking at any of your credit reports unless you authorize it. That way thieves can’t use a person’s identity to open new lines of credit.

Each of the credit bureaus also allows consumers to use a credit lock. It’s not as draconian as a credit freeze, however, a credit lock comes with a few advantages of its own.

Advantages of a Credit Lock

A credit freeze offers identity theft protection, but lifting a freeze can be a real hassle. That’s where a credit lock has the advantage. With a credit lock, you have more control over the status and accessibility of your reports.

Better Manageability

Unlike a credit freeze, state laws don’t dictate a credit lock. You can initiate or end it at any time. If you initiate a credit freeze, your state may decide how long it remains in effect (usually several months). It’s a lot easier to lift a credit lock since you can do it yourself through your account. You can also lock and unlock your credit report as many times as you want throughout the year whether or not you’ve been a victim of identity theft.

Straightforward Fees

Depending on your state’s credit freeze laws, you may have to pay a fee to initiate a credit freeze, lift a credit freeze and/or receive a new PIN or code to access your accounts. The cost of a credit lock is very straightforward. The bureaus charge either a monthly fee or an annual fee that covers the service for the entire year. There’s no fee to end the credit lock or establish a new PIN.

You Can Still Get Credit

With a freeze, it can be difficult to establish new lines of credit since all three credit reports are simultaneously inaccessible unless you provide approval for a creditor with each credit reporting agency.

Preventative, Not Reactionary

A critical shortcoming of a credit freeze is that it’s reactionary. It may not be possible to initiate a freeze unless your identity has already been compromised. A credit lock is a preventative measure that can be used to limit access long before identity theft is a concern.

Disadvantages of a Credit Lock

The obvious disadvantage of a credit lock is its limited scope. In order to cover all three credit reports, you’ll need to set up a credit lock with each bureau. A credit lock through one credit bureau won’t impact the other two reporting agencies.

Another disadvantage alluded to above, is the cost. A credit lock isn’t ever going to be free. Typically, you’ll have to pay a monthly fee for the ability to lock and unlock your credit report. However, if your state charges fees for a credit freeze the cost is less of a factor.

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