We have two systems: an oil furnace and A/C unit that are 35 years old for the bedrooms; and a heat pump for the dining room, offices, kitchen, etc., part of the house. An addition was put on 25 years ago and that's when they added a heat pump. I like this arrangement. We get real heat in our bedrooms in the winter, not some "cool air" heat pump heat. Or the very expensive electric coil backup system. In the summer, I can run the ancient A/C unit at night for sleeping. (It has a tendency to trip the circuit breaker if it's run during the day.) And the heat pump cools the rest of the house pretty well.
The heat pump made weird noises last fall and then stopped. Repair person (generalist) came out and talked to the manufacturer by phone and made some recommendations, like cleaning the coils. After checking the reasonableness of this advice, we paid a lot of money to clean the coils. The repair person had thought we should just invest in a new heat pump, that we were throwing our money away on repairs. But it seemed reasonable to clean the coils and see where we stood after that. The coils were filthy, but the freon reading came out just fine after they were cleaned. And the compressor behaved. For all of three weeks. Then it died again.
Now, remember, the generalist had said a new compressor was a few thousand dollars and that the compressor had an undiagnosed, but deadly, disease.
Not having the few thousand to spare, we shrugged our shoulders and made do with one radiant portable heater and two woodstoves. It worked. Some mornings we were making fires at 5am, but it worked. I can more easily get through a winter than a summer. And in the meantime, money was saved. And it was warm in the bedrooms. I used a bit more oil, but a lot less electricity last winter.
And now, with the weather turning, my chickens were coming home to roost (farm metaphor). I needed a solution before the 90 degree temps hit, the high humidity. I have been very grateful for our "cool" spring, but I bought six electric fans last weekend and placed them strategically around the house.
The Dude and I sat down and did some brainstorming on what we needed to do to make any decision at all. Call a specialist was one of our items, but there was a lot of discussion about decision trees and researching new systems, including geothermal, which currently qualifies for a tax credit of 30% of the FULL cost, including installation, NO LIMIT. A good heat pump's credit is limited to $1,500 and there are more restrictions.
But seriously. Finally call an expert was numero uno. And I hate phoning strangers. The Dude printed out a list of local people. And there it sat. G Dude has been here doing the fence and a cool new stone area for my fire pit down by my cabin. Wednesday, he looked at me with a disgusted 'older brother' look and asked to see the list. (He's not my brother, he's my friend, writer, handyman.) And he called and made an appointment for a guy to come out here today. And the guy showed up and was here for over an hour.
And he got it to work. He says it's not the compressor, but the doohickey that sort of starts the compressor, the capacitor. I had to ask him to show me that and explain its function. Because while I can draw a Flux Capacitor from memory and explain its function in your average nuclear Delorean, I can't explain a capacitor without a basic lesson. And I'd have to explain it to The Dude. Who does know what one is and how it works, I'm quite sure, since he's an engineer, among other things.
End result? About $300 instead of thousands. And maybe the compressor will keep working. He put a temporary one in because they don't have the right one in stock. But by Wednesday, I should have the correct part. And the A/C worked. The issue is starting and stopping. Right now it's way too cold and it's finally stopped. I was getting used to the normal air temp and using fans. A/C almost feels like cheating now. Almost.
I'll find out if it will start itself again, soon. Real soon.
And if it doesn't? Well, I have lots of electric fans now. And we'll move on to the next part of the decision tree.
But I have to admit, I'd still be researching potential systems if G Dude hadn't interfered. So thanks, G Dude.