Friday, October 29, 2010

I'd Rather Be Cold Than Poor

My central heater went out in my house yesterday, and it got down to 30 degrees last night.  It's freakin' cold in here!

Hello from the Arctic circle that is my living room!

I am not a handy person.  If you couldn't figure that out after the whole caulk debacle of 2010, then I am making it clear now:  home repairs are not my strong suit.  The hubby, though he is learning more every year, is also not the handiest guy to have around.  In fact, once I wrote a song called, "I Left My Hubby for the Handyman", as a tribute to his inability to fix things around the house. 

So, due to the fact that neither of us knows our way around a furnace, I called a local repairman this morning to come and take a look at it, hoping that he would just have to light something and charge me $50 or so (which, if I may add, is entirely too much money to pay for someone to do a ten-minute job).  I was confident that we'd be cozy and warm by this evening, walking around barefoot in our comfortable 72 degree home. 

Enter, repairman.  A.K.A. Dream Ruiner. 

The guy got here right after I got the kid in bed for a nap and went straight down to my terrifying cellar/basement to look at my furnace.  He came back up five minutes later and the conversation went something like this like this:

Dream Ruiner:  Your gas valve's gone bad.

Me:  Oh!  Ok!  I'm so glad you figured it out so fast.  Is that cheap to fix?

Dream Ruiner:  It shouldn't be too bad.  Let me see if I even have one.  I think it's $150-$200, but I'll check for ya.

Me:  ...

(Dream Ruiner goes to his truck to look for the part, I walk inside to check my bank balance online)

(I go back outside to find him waiting for me, small box in hand)

Dream Ruiner:  So, the part is $250, the service call is $99, and labor is $95/hr, and it will probably only be an hour to repair, so you're running about...$450 total.

Me:  (staring at him blankly)  I can't afford that right now.

Dream Ruiner:  (looking surprised)  Oh.  Ok.  Well...

Me:  I'm so sorry, but I just can't afford it.  I guess I'll just have to pay you the service fee.  My husband is bringing home some space heaters tonight, so we'll just have to use those until we figure out what to do.

Dream Ruiner:  Ok, I understand.  Let me write you up an invoice with the total cost, in case you change your mind.  If you have us come back out within thirty days, you don't have to pay the service call fee again.

Me:  Alright, wonderful!  Let me go get my credit card.

(I go inside to get my credit card and come back out to him writing the invoice)

Me:  So, do you think that, you know, since our house is so small and all, that it would be cheaper for us to run space heaters this winter instead of using our central air?

Him:  (realizing he's dealing with a cheapskate)  Well, I'm not sure.  I guess it would depend on the price of electric versus the price of gas.  You'd probably have a lot of cold spots in your house too.  I guess you could try it for a month and then find out when you get your bill?

Me:  Hm.  Yeah, maybe we'll do that.

I paid his $99 service call fee and sent him on his merry way.  I mean, can something in such a small box cost so much?  I came straight inside to my trusty laptop and Googled "buy a gas valve for furnace" and, you know what?  I was RIGHT!  I mean, I think I was.  I actually have no idea what kind of furnace we have, so I don't know what valve it would require, but the average price for buying one of them is $130.  So long as we can install it ourselves without blowing up our home, we'll be all set, and $220 richer than we would have had I paid Dream Ruiner to do it.  Woohoo!

Of course, the weakness of my brilliant plan lies in the fact that neither I nor my husband have the first clue in how to change a gas valve on a furnace, but that's what the internet is for.  And handy friends and neighbors. 

Developing...stay tuned in the coming weeks for updates on (probably) cold fingers, (possibly) a house explosion, and (hopefully) a warm home.
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