Tuesday, December 04, 2007
First, Do No Harm...
Last Wednesday, the heat in our master bedroom stopped working. On the cusp of December here in New England, it is cold. A quick glance at the forecast showed that by Saturday, we would see a high of 32 and low of 15 degrees, aggravated by strong winds.
Now, being the stand-up, self-reliant MAN that I am, I didn't want to bother my landlord. My bedroom represents only one of the four heat zones. My kitchen, living room, and most importantly, the kids' bedrooms upstairs all had heat. The heat has been occasionally fickle so I figured there was a good chance it may pop back on any minute. So why bother my landlord and a plumber? You should only molest him for the BIG stuff.
However, pesty experience reminded me, that if our overall heat got worse, that there'd be no way any plumber would be available this upcoming freezing weekend.
So, two days passed and my bedroom was still an igloo. Friday afternoon I alerted my landlord. He came and checked it out while we hit Outback Steakhouse. He couldn't get it going.
Saturday arrives and it is FREEZING - just as forecast. My landlord comes over at 6pm to try and "fix" the heat. An hour later, he leaves. I tell him, it's okay. we have a space heater. We'll be fine...yadda yadda yadda (read "get out of my house please" and "if anything, please call a plumber"). So he does eventually get a hold of a plumber who plans on showing up at 8am the next morning. Great. We go to church at 8:30am and plumbers are even less punctual than the cable guys.
My landlord leaves. Soon after he's gone, I realize that his attempted "fixing" has knocked out two more of the heat zones. Now only my kids' bedrooms upstairs have heat.
Here, I paused and fumed and contemplated. All I wanted to to do was alert my landlord to the situation - namely that my heat was fading fast. So I text-messaged him. Maybe he could get the plumber to come that night or, minimally, my case would at least be given more urgency in the AM?
Unfortunately, my landlord fashions himself an auto-didactic plumber and went to Home Depot. He bought some new digital thermostats and a new "regulator" or ("circulator"). Now mind you, plumbing is no amateur hobby. I got very nervous when my dogged landlord showed back up at my house at 8pm.
He's here for an hour and a half. Borrowing my tools, keeping my kids awake, traipsing dirt on the floors I just mopped. I preemptively told him I wanted to be in bed at 8:30. Here's what followed:
Tactfully, I pleaded with him to not do anything. Don't try to change a regulator; leave the thermostats alone; etc. It was to no avail.
He pulls my bedroom thermostat off the wall, unhooks the wires and reattaches them to a new one he purchased at Home Depot. "Can't you get electrocuted doing stuff like this?", I wondered while I kept my distance.
He goes to the corner of the room to inspect the radiator and hollers to me, "Hey, do you know you have cold air coming out of your vents...you got to close these".
Now its screaming windy out. So whatever draft he felt from the floor vents I assumed was coming somehow from outside. Then I noticed cold air coming out of another vent. I looked at my landlord and bellowed:
CaptiousNut - Yo, you turned the air conditioning on. You must have the wires attached wrong!!!
Though immediately in denial, after a minute he realized something about his installation was awry. He unplugs the thermostat and switches the wires without effect. Cold air is still streaming from my formidable central AC unit into my already frigid bedroom.
My artless landlord then removes the thermostat completely but even that didn't terminate the air conditioning. I let this clown monkey around for another twenty minutes before I handed him a flashlight and demanded he go outside and manually turn off the AC unit.
Now it was 9:30pm. I made him leave. Later that night, even my kids' heat stopped working.
Shouldn't there be a Hippocratic oath for penny-pinching landlords?
First, do no harm...
A credit check just isn't sufficient vetting.
Aside from the annoyance of my amateur landlord, the erratic to non-existent heat has been no big deal.
I just remind myself that we have soldiers carrying 90-pound backpacks in the Iraqi desert.