Sunday, February 8, 2009

Adventures in Homeownership, Part 302

When we last saw our hero, he was finding out he owes more on his house than he's likely to get on the market. In today's episode...

It started innocently enough. We decided that the old fish tank was beyond repair and needed to be replaced. So, out I went to go get a new, smaller tank (with a filter that doesn't sound like the background on a Skinny Puppy song). As we're installing this new aquarium, there's a lot of running to and fro in the house, and on one particular trip, I put my hand against the wall in our hallway and feel something give. And, there, sure enough, is a 4-inch hole in my wall.

I barely even touched the damn thing. Fortunately, it's not so much a hole as the beginning of a hole. The part of the wall that would need to be absent to have a true hole in my wall is still somewhat in place. There are no signs of water damage, though, so let's count our blessings there.

Now, friends, it gets interesting.

I have a home warranty. I wasn't sure if this hole in the wall might be covered. If it was a small hole, I would go to Lowe's, get some mesh and Spackle and go to town. But it's not small. I need someone to come do this for me (because if I do it, it will look like I did it... not the goal here).

Unfortunately, the home warranty doesn't cover this. It does, however, cover my HVAC system. And wouldn't you know, my heath pump is a legit fire hazard, with jerry-rigged wiring powering the fan motor. The wires could get clipped by the fan blades and then... well, any number of things could happen. This is all aside from the fact that one of the wires is held together by a wire nut, so every time it rains... well water might just get on the wires. None of these contingencies bode well.

So, I call my home warranty company to inquire about the heat pump. Grab some popcorn kids...

I'm not even going to detail the insanity of the conversation with the first guy I talked to. Needless to say, when I picked up my jaw from the floor, I asked to speak to a manager. Here is what transpired next:

Me: Hi, so my heat pump is a fire hazard. I just discovered this. I'm thinking probably better to repair it.

Home warranty guy: Well, does the system work?

Me: It works.

HWG: Well, we can only schedule service if it breaks.

Me: OK, so... if I'm getting this straight, you would rather not pay the small price to prevent a problem in favor of paying a much larger price to replace the system when this does break. And, you're assuming the house doesn't burn down when it breaks?

HWG: Well... yes.

Me: I mean, that makes sense, right?

HWG: I understand you're frustrated. But if the system was working when coverage started, we cannot repair it. We don't cover incorrect installation or repairs, either.

Me: Well, how do you inspect this stuff? I cannot imagine an inspector would think this would be OK if he looked at my heat pump.

HWG: We just have occupants run through a protocol and report back on what works.

Me: You don't have an official inspection?

HWG: No.

Me: So the previous tennants can just lie?

HWG: Well... i suppose...

Me: So, you're telling me I would be better off to just call you when it breaks, assuming that I am home when it does and can cut the circuit breaker before an electrical fire starts?

HWG: Yes, we'd send a tech out then, but he would have to report on whether or not breakage was the result of faulty work, which we wouldn't cover.

Me: Whoawhoawhoa... so you're saying that you won't send someone now because the system is in good working order, but if it breaks you'll send someone out who could say that it broke because the system wasn't in good working order?

HWG: Well, I suppose that could happen...

Me: I mean that's a great deal for you guys.

I. Shit. You. Not.

The problem was, by this point, I pretty much had the warranty guy on my side. But he couldn't do anything. Underwriting is underwriting. What he did was give me the names of three contractors they use for HVAC.

I call all three. Only one is working today on routine service and he doesn't even charge an extra fee for coming out on a Sunday. It is completely unfortunate that this contractor lacks a Web site I can link to, but let's just say that if you're in Charlotte and need an HVAC guy, Real Cool is the way to go.

And so, the system has been repaired, at a mercifully low cost. Now, to find a handyman for my wall...

1 comment:

Carolyn said...

I have no words for you. Just empathy.