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Old 04-24-2009, 07:51 PM   #21
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When I look at a unit I take along a little device to diagnose incorrect wiring, The agents look at me like I am nuts;.......


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I get that look when I go around flushing toilets and opening/closing faucets.
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Old 04-24-2009, 07:58 PM   #22
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Ouch! That's the cheapest way to keep the house cool for now, so maybe it will work out. If something else goes, you should probably think about getting a new unit. The tax breaks are good (30% credit) and the new ones use a lot less energy. You'd probably have payback period of less than 10 years in your neck of the woods, and it would be reliable.

Of course, that's the long view, sometimes I can't afford to take that long view. As we scrape the bottom of the barrel to pay the first installment of the 2009 estimated taxes and try to avoid selling off equities that have gone down in price--if our AC died today we'd probably just wear shorts and crank up the box fan.
When I sold my first house back in 1997, I had a tough time selling the bugger due to the age of the a/c. It was 20 years old and most people cringed when I told them the age. I ran into the guy that bought the house a little over a year ago and he said it was still running just fine and that he had put zero in the unit. When I lived there, I probably had less than $300 in repairs in the 12 years I was there. They don't make them like that anymore. It was a Heil brand BTW.

I just turned my a/c on for the first time today. Thank goodness it's running because it's old too.
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Old 04-24-2009, 08:22 PM   #23
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When I sold my first house back in 1997, I had a tough time selling the bugger due to the age of the a/c. It was 20 years old and most people cringed when I told them the age. I ran into the guy that bought the house a little over a year ago and he said it was still running just fine and that he had put zero in the unit. When I lived there, I probably had less than $300 in repairs in the 12 years I was there. They don't make them like that anymore. It was a Heil brand BTW.
Our AC unit is about 12 years old. It was efficient in its day, approx a SEER 9 unit. Here in southern OH the AC doesn't get the workout that these devices get in the deep south. We have three hot months, and the mornings are usually cool enough that a well insulated house doesn't heat up until the early afternoon. So, I'll try to get as many years as I can out of my AC unit as the payback period is fairly long. Mine will surely crump out one week after the tax credits end.

When we lived in Charleston SC, the fan on our outside AC unit died on an August day three hours before we had 20 guests coming to the house. I strapped a $10 window box fan to the top of the unit to suck the hot air out, and when that wasn't enough I tied another on the back to push air in over the condenser coils. It was ugly and sure didn't meet code, but worked great and got us through until I could get the pro out to fix it during regular business hours.
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Old 04-24-2009, 08:23 PM   #24
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buy new next time
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Old 04-24-2009, 08:46 PM   #25
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buy new next time
Even better buy well maintained. I'd only buy new if I had faith in the builder and still did a home inspection. There's too many builder defects suits for me to be totally secure that new is good.
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Old 04-24-2009, 09:10 PM   #26
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I used to live in big houses. I owned over a dozen of them that I fixed up then sold. Today I live in a 300 sq ft mobile home, and have never been happier! No more big repairs...life has been a lot more fun and weekends aren't spent doing chores...
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Old 04-24-2009, 09:17 PM   #27
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I used to live in big houses. I owned over a dozen of them of fixed up then sold them. Today I live in a 300 sw ft mobile home, and have never been happier! No more big repairs...life has been a lot more fun and weekends aren't spent doing chores...
30x10 single wide? Do you own a lot or lease in a park?

And by the way, welcome to the board.

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Old 04-24-2009, 09:32 PM   #28
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...actually it's a trailer (Park model) I'm going to sell it soon and move. I've been in Ashland for 3 years and I'm getting eager to try something new. I want to find a warmer climate for winter. Ashland is too expensive for me. I pay $295/month for lot rent and I'm surrounded by $500K homes... I think Florida would be OK for winter months...plus no state income tax. I have been enjoying the forums on city-data.com for helpful posts about areas to move to, etc. Happy to find this forum as well. Thanks for the welcome! Sorry I didn't proof my first post. And I'm a stickler for that too! I live on a budget, and managed to retire at 57. I'm 59 now. I sold the 2 properties I owned and hold the mortgages on them for my income. I volunteer a lot, travel, and take classes at the university. I also house-sit all over the country.
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Old 04-24-2009, 10:56 PM   #29
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We've been in our "dream house" for nearly nine years, and it's finally time to do something about the 19-year-old FuturaStone. Installed in 1990 when the house was new, on two lanai and the sidewalks/driveway/garage, and overhauled in 2001, it just wasn't worth any more salvage effort.

FuturaStone traps dirt, which provides a lovely medium for all growing things-- weeds, roots, and critters. Rumor is that its bacteria count is so high that it's no longer allowed to be used around pool decks, which is a good idea because it's slippery when wet. Or at least it is when the sun hasn't broken down its epoxy (no UV resistance). And those little stones are always breaking free and getting under(bare)foot. Those snarky buyers would use the word "dingy".

So we're halfway to stamped concrete. The detail work is horrific and way way beyond my wildest DIY aspirations. The FuturaStone has been removed (except for the garage) and a badly-built uncovered lanai has been demolished/repoured. All the sidewalks/lanai have been covered & stamped. The driveway is next week, and then everything will get some more staining and a final clearcoat. The difference is already a tremendous improvement. It was far more money than we wanted to spend but recessions are the only time that contractors are available for the "little" jobs like this, let alone at an affordable price.

I think it'll last 30 years... just as long as the mortgage!

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Oh, and relieved me of $98.50.
Kind of steep. At least I know it will work when it gets hot around here.
In August, April's pre-emptive $98.50 will seem like a bargain...

We've worked really hard to optimize this home's tradewind cooling, and I'm really glad we can get along without A/C. It was 70 degrees indoors this morning, pretty frigid for April, and it only got up to 78 today. These stories remind me that I don't miss A/C one little bit.
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Old 04-24-2009, 11:23 PM   #30
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One August when I was pouring every penny into paying off my house and my A/C broke, I did that. I dressed accordingly, showered in cold water whenever I felt uncomfortable, turned on the ceiling fans, consumed a lot of ice water and an occasional popsickle, lolled about a lot, and didn't cook. It really wasn't that bad, even in New Orleans.

Of course, I'd RATHER have A/C. But I love knowing that I can manage just fine without it.
I guess we are not as tough as your are W2R!

Our A/C broke down in July 2007. The fan motor on our 8 year old Heil system fried and it took a whole month for the new fan to come in and be installed. We thought we could handle a few weeks of hot Alabama weather without A/C. We were wrong. It's not so much the heat inside the house (it went up to 92F) but rather the humidity that got to us. So we decided to buy a cheap window unit at Home Depot to at least keep our bedroom dry and cool. The bedroom instantaneously became the cat's headquarters. We would also find refuge there whenever we felt uncomfortably hot. Last year we decided to get a new, more reliable, and more efficient A/C unit and our electric consumption has been greatly reduced.
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Old 04-25-2009, 12:06 PM   #31
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I guess we are not as tough as your are W2R!

Our A/C broke down in July 2007. The fan motor on our 8 year old Heil system fried and it took a whole month for the new fan to come in and be installed. We thought we could handle a few weeks of hot Alabama weather without A/C. We were wrong. It's not so much the heat inside the house (it went up to 92F) but rather the humidity that got to us. So we decided to buy a cheap window unit at Home Depot to at least keep our bedroom dry and cool. The bedroom instantaneously became the cat's headquarters. We would also find refuge there whenever we felt uncomfortably hot. Last year we decided to get a new, more reliable, and more efficient A/C unit and our electric consumption has been greatly reduced.
Didn't have A/C until I retired. Housekeeper gave me a hand-me-down window unit. I put it in a living room window.

Bought a new window unit in '07 and gave away old one.

Used it one day in '08.

I'm comfortable up to 90F if it's not humid.
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Old 04-25-2009, 01:10 PM   #32
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Ya don't need A/C in the 'cool' part of Louisiana - fish camp over Lake Ponchartrain. 1979-1989.

Then we got older and more spoiled.



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Old 04-26-2009, 12:53 PM   #33
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Bought the house in 1997. Immediately removed carpets, and refinished the hardwood underneath. Painted, too, inside and out. Major maintenance didn't start until 2006, with a new water heater. Last year we replaced the main water line in from the street. This year is the worst by far-replaced drain tile, patched foundation, and replaced sewer line all at the same time.

Finished the basement about 5 years ago, but I don't view that as a repair...

So, for repairs over the years we've probably spent around 15k. Factor in the basement finishing and we've spent 45k. In that time the house has nearly doubled in value... Not bad for our starter home.
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Old 04-26-2009, 05:18 PM   #34
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If you want a money pit, buy a historic house. Mine is 152 years old and it has easily cost us more to renovate/restore it than we paid to buy it. The guy who sold it to us had bought in 1990 with the intention of making minimal cosmetic fixes and then flipping the house (this was well before they had TV shows on the topic). It had previously been the home of an elderly widow who had neither the ability nor the money to keep it in good repair.

The real estate market in CT died in 1991, so the guy's "flip" did not work at all. In 1992, we paid the balance of his mortgage and the back taxes, and he lost everything he put into the project. Unfortunately, we were then faced with undoing all the cheesy things he did for the flip. For example, rather than refinish the beautiful hardwood floors, he put down the cheapest wall to wall carpet in existence. He put up white vinyl wall paper on the walls and acoustic tiles on the ceiling rather than fix the cracked and crumbling plaster. It took years to undo the "renovations".

Since we bought in '92 we have:

Replaced the nearly 100 yr old converted coal burning furnace (which had walls so thin you could see the flames through them)

Dug up the 1000 gal oil tank under the driveway and installed new tanks in the cellar.

Ripped up all the carpet and refinished the wood floors

Lined and rebuilt two chimney's (one triple flue) and three fireplaces

Replastered every wall and dry-walled the ceiling

Buddied up the upstairs floor joists that had been sawn through to run piping

Rebuilt the falling down giant wrap-around front porch

Replaced every window in the house with period correct replacements.

Removed a modern large picture window that had been inappropriately added about 40 years ago and replaced with appropriately sized 6 over 6

Gutted, expanded and rebuilt the kitchen

Gutted and renovated three bathrooms

Replaced the crumbling old carriage house with a two car attached garage.

Completely ripped off and replaced the roof

Replaced all the old aluminum gutters with copper half rounds

Built a custom garden shed (128 sqft with concrete foundation) to match the main house.

Added a back porch.

Sanded down every clapboard to bare wood, painted, repainted and painted some more.

****

Our only remaining big project is to install pavers in the 100 foot long driveway (which is currently gravel) and replace the front sidewalk.
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Old 04-26-2009, 05:25 PM   #35
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Gumby, have you seen the movie "The Money Pit" starring Tom Hanks and Shelley Long? It is a good antidote to counteract the "This Old House" episodes.
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Old 04-26-2009, 05:35 PM   #36
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Our AC unit is about 12 years old. . . So, I'll try to get as many years as I can out of my AC unit as the payback period is fairly long. Mine will surely crump out one week after the tax credits end.
Apparently this post jinxed our AC unit. Yesterday was the first warm day of the year. The fan on the condenser made lots of screechy noises when she came on, and was having trouble cooling the house. I oiled the motor bearings this AM and the noise has been reduced a lot, but is still louder than normal.

I checked on the unit--it is 15 years old and has an efficiency of 12 SEER. A new 2 ton outside unit (16 SEER to get the tax credit) costs $1300 plus installation. Or, I could do what Unclemick did and just replace the fan, hoping the compressor doesn't soon fail. I'd like to get some more mileage out of this thing.
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Old 04-26-2009, 05:41 PM   #37
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Gumby, you're pouring your retirement into your house! Don't tell us - you plan on moving when you FIRE...
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Old 04-26-2009, 08:48 PM   #38
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Our house was built in 1985 and we bought it in 1994. Since then we have replaced...

back door
garage door
A/C unit
roof (ins paid for that)
fence
carpet in one area
flooring in dining room, kitchen and laundry room
refrigerator
sink
dishwasher
stove top
assorted light fixtures
water heater

Total cost approximately $16k in 15 years. I guess we're "lucky" compared to some.....
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Old 04-27-2009, 12:55 AM   #39
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FD, you're clearly not alone! We bought our 2-bdr, 950 sq. ft. condo in September 2002. It was built by a crew of coked-up monkeys in 1972 (or so we've surmised from the plumbing layout, which we've gotten too intimately familiar with in the past six and a half years). Since we bought the place, we've:
Completely repainted and re-floored the second bedroom (DH spent a weekend laying a lovely laminate)
Taken the kitchen down to the studs and replaced walls, flooring, cabinetry, fixtures and lighting.
Repainted and installed new flooring in dining room, living room, entryway and hallway (all cathedral ceilings, and exposed beams on the ceilings, so we hired someone for the job).
Installed new windows and patio slider (it's amazing how much quieter and temperature-stable the house is now).
Installed new front door (the bottom of the original rotted away and fell off one day... cute!)
Stained the fence, inside and out.
Major yard/landscape work, including ripping out a lawn and installing raised beds, planting trees, taking a large dead tree out, etc.
After four slab leaks and affiliated jackhammering of floors, have re-routed much of house plumbing up through drywall and attic.

On the list for this summer is a remodel of the bathrooms (powder room and full bath) and a recarpeting/repainting of the master bedroom.

All this just in time to put it on the market... and move to a bigger house! Of course, in order to afford a bigger house in our neighborhood we will be purchasing a fixer. But, we've got lots of "fixing" experience now, so it should be a piece of cake.

We fantasized this weekend about plunking down $20K and buying a 35-foot sailboat and living in the harbor. Except I get hideously seasick. And boats aren't maintenance-free, either.

Maybe a tent on a nice piece of property? We could get a new one every couple of years at REI.
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Old 04-27-2009, 05:48 AM   #40
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I rent and the money i dont spend on house maintenance and repair goes on frequent hollidays around North America.
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