Monday, June 05, 2006

The Continuing Saga of the Air Conditioner - Now with Update

When I moved into my apartment, almost everything was "meshupatz" (renovated). New floor tiles everywhere. New pipes. New paint. New kitchen counters.

But the old a/c remained. The unit is about 30 years old. It's a monstrosity. It's completely inefficient and sucks up money more than air. But it worked, and not so many people here have a/c. So I was grateful for it.

Last year, it started leaking water. Oy, what a story I could tell you, about the efforts to fix it properly. In the end, it became clear: I could live with an a/c that leaks water on the floor, or the landlord could replace it.

Now, my landlord is fairly reasonable as landlords go. She is less attentive than I'd like, but much more attentive than many of my friends' landlords. When I told her about the a/c, her answer was that she will not pay to replace the air conditioner. However, if I buy an air cooling machine, she would reimburse me for that.

Well, my apartment is tiny, and frankly I'm not inclined to use precious floor space for an air cooler. So I chose to deal with the leaky a/c, and simply lined the floor underneath it with "smartutim" (white fluffy rags), which I washed and replaced every couple of days.

That was last year. Now, we're having a heat wave, and I discovered last night after not using the a/c for a year that it is completely kaput. You push the button, and nothing happens at all.

The repair guy is going to try to come this afternoon, tomorrow morning latest. Meanwhile, I work in this place all day and I'm all sticky and sweaty and feeling disgusting and miserable.

Did I mention my landlord is going to raise my rent this fall by $20 per month? I've been doing some research, and it's still within market value. To move out of here to a larger, more properly air-conditioned apartment would cost a lot. It would be more cost-effective for me to pay to fix this a/c problem myself, than to move out right now. I just can't afford the costs of moving. Especially since, if I'm going to go to the trouble of moving, it has to be to a bigger apartment (which I desperately want).

I definitely have to give her some sort of firm demand that she fix the a/c.

At the very least, I want her to have it hauled away and the resulting large hole in the wall fixed, so I will have the wall space and footprint space for an air cooler or at least a fan. She can't expect to rent out such a tiny apartment and then demand that I use precious footprint space for an air cooler, when there is a non-functional a/c taking up half a wall.


Meanwhile, I heard about a friend of a friend whose daughter needs brain surgery. Sort of puts it all in perspective.

But it doesn't mean that my clothes aren't sticking to me, and I'm having a hard time concentrating on my work.


My landlady agreed to pay for the removal of the old monstrosity of an a/c and the fixing of the wall, and the installation of a ceiling fan and a small radiator (since the a/c is also my heater). I could have pressed her on the fact that I rented this place under the assumption that it comes with a/c, but sometimes you have to work with the reality that you have. There's no way she'd give in, and my only other choice is to move out; which is much more expensive than simply paying for a new a/c myself.

Meanwhile, the a/c repairman came. Thank God, I now have luscious cool air coming in, though who knows for how long. This thing is wheezing out its last breaths. As we were sitting at my desk, exchanging numbers of contractors who would be able to remove this dying jalopy, I said "Michael, you saved my life. I can't tell you what a difference the a/c makes."

Michael, an immigrant from Denmark who had been running around all day fixing the air conditioners of desperate, sweating customers, closed his eyes, nodded sagely, and said "I know. I know."

Anyway, I'm going to get estimates to see how much it would cost to remove the jalopy and install a new a/c close to the ceiling, where it will be out of the way. The landlady would pay for the first part; I'd have to pay for the second. But since I'll be here all this summer and, at least, through July of next summer, it may be worth it for me to invest in that. Especially since perhaps I could sell the A/C to the next tenant at the end of my lease.

We'll see. I'll let you know what happens.