It was 1988. My son and I had just been diagnosed with asthma. I already suffered from allergies and it was strongly recommended that we get central air to keep the pollen out.
We had a small income tax return, so I went to my favorite plumber, the plumber we used at work, and a plumber who attended school with my husband. The third plumber’s bid was half price of the other two.
Now our memory gets fuzzy. I say we chose the last one because my husband wanted to help out a classmate. He says we chose the last one because I was so cheap.
Frugal is being smart. Cheap is taking the cheapest bid.
It was a mistake. A week after the central air was installed the motor burned up. The classmate installed a different motor and that was the last we heard from him.
Then the nightmare began. It just wouldn’t cool. Our favorite plumber tried every test and every trick, but the house was always 10 degrees warmer than the air outside.
We had our electric company do an energy audit twice during those years and still could not figure out why it didn’t work.
Finally, in desperation, we called in a friend who handled industrial heating and cooling in businesses in the area. He listened to everything we had tried over the years and ripped the thing apart.
What he found was a one speed motor that was wired to a two-speed fan. When you have central air you must have a high-speed on your fan to push the cool air up. In the winter, heat rises, so you can move air with the low-speed.
He put on a two-speed motor and IT WORKED!!!
We had three days of temperatures over 100 degrees and my house stayed consistently at 77 degrees where I set it.
Then we were sick when we realized for over two decades we had been cooling the bottom two feet of the house and since the cool air never reached the thermostat, the air ran constantly for weeks at a time.
I called my favorite plumber and reported what we found. I am not going to see him as much now. At least not to work on the air conditioner! I also wrote a letter to the electric company with the findings in case the auditor ran into a similar situation.
It was a painful lesson to learn. It is better to wait until you can do it right than to take a bargain.