As a Life & Style reporter who’s written many stories on home improvement, my co-worker Linda Lombroso thought she’d be better at maintaining her own 1960 split-level. Not true, apparently. Here’s her home repair story:
“In an effort to save money, we’ve cut corners on just about everything house-related. The gutters are clogged. The garage door doesn’t open. And we have two central air-conditioning units, neither of which has been serviced in years. Bad idea, I learned today. Seasonal maintenance can save you money on energy bills — and believe me, I’m not happy with the Con Ed bill that just came in the mail.
But the real reason I called All State Air Control was a banging noise I heard in the dining room every time I turned on the A/C. The whole china cabinet shook, and I worried something in the basement might explode during the night. I never go down there. It’s a mysterious, dank space that leaks — another story entirely — which means I don’t change the filter as often as I should.
The other unit is situated in the garage, and it’s a real hassle to get in there too. Suffice it to say I’ve been terribly neglectful all around.
Oliver Martell, who works for All State, arrived just after 9 a.m.
He checked for the banging noise, and realized immediately that it was the plates in the china cabinet hitting against the wall. Oops. Did I just spend $45 (service call) and $120 (hour of labor) for nothing?
No. It was the best thing I could have done.
I decided to go ahead and have both units “maintained,” which means changing the filters, cleaning the coils, hosing down the outside units (do NOT do this yourself—you can get electrocuted) and having all that muck removed (leaves, mud, debris that gets inside). And Oliver found that I needed a “contactor” replaced in the larger outside unit, a little device that can “get pitted,” he explained, over time.
I ended up paying a few hundred dollars for everything—I already had filters in the house, which I’d ordered online — but I felt confident I’d done the right thing. What I really liked about All State is that they didn’t charge me separately for service to each unit, something that many companies do.
Here are some good tips: He also told me I needed to cut back the shrubs that were brushing against one of the outdoor units — a clearance of 24 inches all around is recommended by manufacturers, he said.
Replace the filters! Martell replaces the dirty filter in the smaller unit we have in the garage.
Although my house is still in terrible shape, at least the A/C is in good condition now. With three kids who suffer from allergies, the least I can do is try to keep the air clean. Maybe they’ll come home more often. That would be nice.”
Details: All State Air Control, based in Mount Vernon, has maintenance tips on its web site for “do it yourselfers.” 888-479-4328 or www.allstateair.com