Monday, July 17, 2006

@#$%&* Air Conditioning

I don't even have my electric bill yet, but I'm already cursing about the air conditioning.

We had central A/C installed five years ago as part of a huge remodeling project. It's a Spacepak system, which uses high-pressure, flexible hoses snaked through the attic and walls. There is an A/C unit outside with a long tube running up the wall and into the attic where the blower resides. It works well, but from the start we have had one problem: condensation leaks from our attic down the wall in the stairwell.

We didn't see it the first year because we hardly used the A/C. By the time it became noticeable, we were far beyond the 15-minute warranty provided by our contractor. There was a PVC drainpipe that was supposed to drain into the stack, but water ran off the bottom and into the attic floor instead. I tried to fix it several times, and it went away for a while. Last year we ran the A/C for an entire month because our dog was dying, and the water damage became much worse. Paint was bubbling, cracking, and peeling. When I had insulation installed last winter, I asked the contractor if he could seal the joint between the PVC pipe and the stack. He did, but apparently that wasn't the real source of our vertical river.

This morning I was dismayed -- actually really pissed -- when I saw two narrow streaks of water trickling down the wall. The A/C had been running for most of the past 48 hours without a drop, so I had thought the problem was solved. I climbed up the attic ladder and searched for water, but I couldn't feel any moisture. Of course, my search was complicated by all the new insulation up there.

This afternoon I came up with an idea. I am going to put a picture of Mother Mary on the wall where the streaks originate and charge people to visit my Shrine of the Weeping Virgin. A lot of Hispanics live nearby, and they just eat that stuff up (check out Our Lady of the Underpass, a stain that looks vaguely like Mary on Fullerton Avenue underneath the Kennedy Expressway). Maybe I can get Eric Zorn to write a column about it and sneak in another plug for my book. Of course, it will be more expensive to run the air conditioning with all of those candles heating up the house. It would be just my luck for one of the cats to knock them over and set the whole place on fire. But at least I wouldn't have this water problem anymore.

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