hot and bothered

Just 20 months ago I replaced the heat pump in my condo, to the tune of over $4,000. The original had lasted over twenty years, but finally had given up the ghost.

Yesterday evening, then, it was a shock when Jeff and I arrived home to find the temperature inside a muggy 79 degrees, the heat pump fan blowing but the compressor not on, and a tiny pool of water, mostly inside the utility closet around the base of the unit, though some also had wicked out into the hallway carpet. We put towels down, and changed them out this morning before heading to work; I also called my downstairs neighbors to let them know, and to ask them to be on the alert for any water seeping down into their utility closet.

Right away, I called the heating and cooling service company from whom I’d purchased the unit–and from whom I’d also bought an ongoing annual service contract after the first year–to be told that they can’t even get someone out to look at it until next Tuesday, a week away, and that I need to keep the unit turned off until then, which should, they said, stop the water leakage. Apparently folks without service contracts have a three-week waiting period for emergency calls while the several hundred dollars I’ve paid to them for service means I’m lucky just to have to wait only one. One June/July week without A/C, with the temperature outside pushing 90. Lucky.

So we kept the lights off, ate salad rather than cooking a hot meal, and opened the windows and patio door overnight, hoping that the predicted rainstorms (which materialized only briefly, and only as a light rain) would cool the place down some. When we woke up this morning, the temperature inside had dropped… one degree to 78. Today all the blinds are drawn in an attempt to keep the place as dark and cool as possible, and the weather forecast again has called for rainstorms all day long; so far, though, nada.

Also, I stopped by the front desk this morning before work to speak to the building manager, and he’s going to have the building’s maintenance guy stop in and take a look. There’s a strong suspicion from several people with whom I’ve spoken that this might just be a clogged drain, perhaps from lint or algae in the condensation pan, and that it might be possible to clean it out, at least well enough to keep it from leaking any more water and to let the compressor run again (if the unit is turned off and back on, the compressor will start up, but it will only run for about ten seconds or so, and then shut off again leaving only the fan running).

As if that weren’t bad enough, just as we were preparing to go to bed–at just past 11, unusually early for us, but it was too hot to do much else–we had a repeat of an evening last October, when Alex was having a bout of diarrhea and got his tail covered in his loose stools. Fortunately, this time was at least a little milder–the substance was a little less liquid and was confined solely to his tail, unlike last time when it ended up smeared over more of his fur and over the carpets and floors as well–though still traumatic for him and unpleasant for us, when I again had to resort to chopping off a chunk of his tail fur, which was too badly matted to get cleaned up otherwise.

[Update: Tuesday night, June 29: We ended up only having to go one day with no air conditioning; the maintenance staff in my building were able to clean out the clog in the drain pipe that was indeed the problem, and when I got home from work the temperature already had fallen three degrees, and is now quite comfortable.]