Thursday, April 28, 2016

From HVAC Hell to HVAC Bliss

The other company came.  Guy was courteous and knew his stuff.

System was refrigerant undercharged.  He charged it up, by about 3 lbs, cleaned both units as there was some caking on the indoor unit coil, cleaned the filters, too, even though they were not bad, cleaned the outdoor unit, and even caulked the laundry vent that exits near the heat pump so no dust would clog it.

The idiot who came last week, the guy who first said it was undercharged then switched to saying it was overcharged, actually drained some refrigerant, so we don't know how badly it was undercharged before he came along and fouled things up worse, then tried to claim the coil needs replaced, for $5000 or more, or the unit needed replaced.

So glad this second company was honest and competent and quickly found the issue and resolved it.  He checked for leaks with a gas detection gauge at both units, found no leaks, but the lines under the house may have a small leak.   For that we just wait and see.

Best part, besides him being so courteous and fixing the system competently and quickly---no charge.  Courtesy to my brother, I think, because he uses that company in his business.

It may have a leak under the house, hopefully if so, its tiny, but if that is the case, we will know in a few months.

From HVAC hell to HVAC bliss!!!


There has been lots of change on the cul de sac.  The empty house at the end finally went up for sale and within a few months sold.  I don't know who moved in.

The renters up near the cross street moved out, and within a few months, another family related to the owner moved in.  I don't know them and haven't met them.

The renters at another house down near the end suddenly moved out.   Then the house went up for sale.  Today the realtor selling it parked across from my house and an inspection guy in front of mine as I was checking the heat pump, since the 2nd opinion company is supposed to come today.

I chatted with her briefly and wanted to ask if she knew anything about Jack's house when it might go up for sale.  I told her its a very cute house if it gets cleaned up and how much I hoped a cat lover would move in.  She said it could be years before it does but she doesn't know what its status is.   She said a couple had already made an offer on the house at the end, and that they met with the neighbors who are quite picky about things, and they seem to get along so it should be ok if the couple who made the offer buy it.

Maybe there will be peace down there now.

She asked if I enjoyed living on the cul de sac and I didn't know what to say.  It's always better to say very little, I've found out.  So I just said there should have been a manual on how to get along on a dead end street.  I didn't say its like a little inbred community. I didn't say I don't fit in here at all or how I've been the loneliest I've ever been living here.  I didn't say the neighbor next to me threatened me and that I live in fear of her. I didn't mention the two big dogs that have free roamed the block and charged me for years.

All I said was that I had liked Jack very much and wish he were still living and in the house next door.

If that house at the end sells Jack's house will be the only empty house on the block although the contractors house is up for sale.  They're moving to a county location where he has more space for his equipment.  It's a really nice house.

Change can be good or bad.   We shall see.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Lonely Drake

They both came, that first time and startled me!

Ducks in my yard?

I live in a suburban cul de sac.  No water in sight.

Lots of cement, barking dogs, cats, cars charging around, going too fast....but ducks?

Granted, ducks are big here in town.  It's not uncommon to see them begging in busy parking lots, or businesses with bowls out, labeled "duck water".

We have one rather short bike/pedestrian path in town, along side a canal, which is heavy in ducks as is the pathway.  I don't even bother walking it.  Too much duck shit.

We have some man made rather algae filled smelly lakes too.  They are too warm for trout but get stocked with them anyway, with hatchery fish.  And there are oodles of ducks on them and near them.

But ducks on a cul de sac?  And what they'd do, follow me here?

But there they were one evening, startling me, as I went out to my car.  A hen and a drake.  He seemed proud to have found a food source for her.  They were guzzling scattered bird seed, best they could with their bills designed for slurping the bottoms of ponds.

He eyed me expectantly.  She eyed me with suspicion.

I had a few pieces of bread.  I am not a bread eater so rarely have any in the house.  I dipped the pieces in water, because I could not imagine a duck eating dry bread, and tossed the soggy pieces out to the pair, who gobbled them.

They began arriving together promptly at 7:00 p.m.   I would watch the cats to know when they'd come.  The cats watched out the window and signaled the ducks' arrival with increased interest, lining up and jostling at the windows for position to see.

And so it began.

But things changed.  The hen began arriving alone at 7:00 p.m. while the drake would come in the mornings, then wander, looking lost, to the sidewalk, and wait there, like he had lost her somehow and was hoping she would come so he could reconnect.  He stays an hour or so, then flies off, to the northeast, as does she, in the evening.

Did she kick him from the nest?  Did they have a spat, or just get separated and can't find each other again?

Doesn't seem to bother her like it bothers him.  She doesn't moon around when she comes.  She likes the bird seed, which I pile for her so she can better scoop it up.  He likes junk food, the bread, and won't touch the corn or seed.

Maybe their differences are too great.  I suppose even ducks have their problems.

They seemed happy enough at first.

Come back tonight, I wanted to tell him if I only knew his language, she'll be here then.

The Lonely Drake this morning

Update on Mallard breeding. He's on his own, once the female lays her eggs. Here's this about mallards from wikipedia:

"Mallards usually form pairs (in October and November in the Northern hemisphere) only until the female lays eggs at the start of nesting season which is around the beginning of spring, at which time she is left by the male who joins up with other males to await the moulting period which begins in June (in the Northern hemisphere). During the brief time before this, however, the males are still sexually potent and some of them either remain on standby to sire replacement clutches (for female Mallards that have lost or abandoned their previous clutch) or forcibly mate with females that appear to be isolated or unattached regardless of their species and whether or not they have a brood of ducklings."

As in many species, the male has only one contribution to species continuation---sperm.  The female harbors and develops the eggs in her body, lays them, protects them best she can while also trying to feed herself and feeds her young, once hatched.   Males contribute nothing but sperm.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Back to the Trailer Park, Back to the FCCO

I was back at the Sweet Home trailer park, to get more cats on Saturday.

The weather was bleak, with down pours.  And thunder storms.

What else is new.

Picked up ten cats in all.  Plus five kittens.  I had nine or so, more than I figured we'd have, but the woman there who had requested help, really came through in grabbing cats Saturday.  Plus I'd walked through part of the park talking to anyone who would answer their door about if they knew of cats needing fixed.

When I picked up one little boy kitten, fed out on a deck, I saw through her yard to another trailer, off another road, and kittens all over that porch.  I drove around til I found that trailer, and saw not only kittens, but lots of other cats.  Someone answered the door, and I asked if they would like to get these cats fixed.  The man said yes, he would, but would not let me take one very pregnant female, not yet anyway.   I asked about the kittens, could I take them, and he said "yes" that otherwise he tries to give them away in front of Walmart.  I took all five and their mom, who would be fixed and returned.  I had  no more space to grab two year old gray brothers, wrestling in the grass.  They don't want those two either.
Young male fixed yesterday.
Lactating mom cat fixed yesterday.

I called Heartland to ask if by any chance they could take the kittens, and thank goodness, they said they could.  So after I got home with the ten to be fixed, plus the five kittens, unloaded the adults, I took the five kittens over to Heartland.

There was a gray tabby kitten, a brown tabby and 3 black tux kittens.

Their mom is gray and peering over them.  Sorry about the photos, my camera battery was nearly dead and the lens dirty.
These four boys were all fixed yesterday from around one trailer.  One black, one white, one brown tabby and one gray tabby tux.

This is the same gray tabby as the photo above it. Just a different view.

Then from another trailer, the Thunderbird trailer I call it, to keep things straight in my brain, a young muted torti was fixed plus a young black male who turned out to be a crypt orchid (one testicle up inside his body).

They have this already fixed kitty too (photo below) plus feed the black tux male fixed two weeks ago.

A 2nd gray tabby tux male was also fixed yesterday, a handsome fellow, hand grabbed by the woman who wanted help at the trailer park.

This big orange guy was fixed also....., the third orange tabby fixed from the trailer park.

They're all back home now.  I have tons of laundry to do, traps and carriers to clean, but my exhaustion is tempered by happiness, at having helped get 10 more fixed and the kittens to Heartland.   There are more needing fixed there, for sure, but what a great start.

I want to say thank you to Heartland Humane in Corvallis for taking the kittens.  They'd already taken in Benji, a gray tabby male, from the trailer park.  I also would like to thank the FCCO (Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon).  They have so far fixed 17 of the trailer park cats, and I've not gotten a dime in donations to hand them in return.   Gosh darn thank you!

If you would like to donate to help me get the rest fixed, click the Donate button at the top right. It costs money to drive back and forth to Sweet Home then to Portland, to pay for food and bait, laundry, and I'd sure like to give a few dollars to the FCCO when they fix them.  Anyhow, I'd appreciate it, and so would the cats and people of that Sweet Home trailer park.

Friday, April 22, 2016


The visit from the HVAC company did not go well.   I didn't know what to think.  I am unfamiliar with HVAC systems and what can cause problems like I have experienced with my system (failure to cool, when it was hot).

I had a couple of major worries over the visit. The first is why would he first tell us it was one thing wrong (undercharged, needed recharged which means a possible leak), then switch to say it was overcharged and that this was caused by a coil restriction?  The other thing was the price he quoted for the coil replacement with labor, of over $5000.

I had some minor worries too.  He spent a considerable amount of time on the phone talking to some friend, whom I think was a coworker, in his van, outside the house and inside the house.   It made me think he was killing time, to jack up the price, or didn't know what he was doing.

After he told me the system needed recharged,  I asked how much recharge would be and he looked it up and said $112 per pound of refrigerant, minus labor, but didn't know how much it would take.

My question immediately, in my mind, was if he seemed so unsure of the pressure reading and what it should be, how would he know what to recharge it to.

But that question didn't need answered because suddenly he switched, claiming the system was actually over charged and the problem was the coil on the inside unit that was restricted and it would need replaced, said the cost of the coil alone would be over $2000 and with installation, which includes first draining the refrigerant then recharging the system, the cost would be over $5000.  He then moved into an enthusiastic pitch for a new furnace/air handler.

Those actually cost less than the price he quoted for a new coil.  I was flabbergasted and my brain's scam alert was blinking fiery red.  How could he think one minute it was under charged, then the next, say it was overcharged.

Also, in yet another conversation with his friend, I heard only one word---"elderly".   Was he referring to me, I wondered.  If he was, why would he say the word "elderly"?  In a respectful way, or not so much?  I only heard him say that one word so I don't know.  But.....when someone doing repairs says that word, I immediately think a red laser dot is on my forehead.  We who are over 60 understand we have targets on us.

But being over 60 also means we've been around and we know a few things, like the fact we get targeted.  And some of us can even use the internet.

The moment he left I began looking up HVAC videos on youtube.  I found many many videos including a series on HVAC scams, created by a retired HVAC tech.  That was quite helpful.  I messaged a couple of them, asking if this sounded right, and quoted the prices given.  I was told I needed a second opinion.  That was a given.

I also looked up "Is my coil restricted" and found an interesting comment thread:

Read debates over coil restriction or not here.

It is quite complicated to determine, I realized.  One must take superheat and subcool readings, and take in account outside/inside humidity and temps also.  And what amps the condenser should pull as opposed to what it does pull.  Condenser coils should be cleaned out, to avoid high end resistance.  I've never cleaned that heat pumps condenser coils.  Maybe I should.

I looked up fixed orifice coils too, since that is what is on mine:
Read the differences between fixed orifice and TXP valve evaporative coils here.

You can see what a fixed orifice looks like on this link.  And my thought might be, if there is a coil restriction, maybe this could be cleaned or replaced?

Read more about TXP valves or see photos of fixed place orifice here.

I'm sure you're all just thrilled over the HVAC technical!  Makes for can't put it down reading, right?  Well, I have that sort of a brain.  I like to know.

We're back to square one on it.   My brother is having a company he does business with come up from Roseburg.

 I have no idea what's wrong with the system.  Hope the next company can figure it out.  After reading about the systems and how to test for problems, I am convinced if I had the right tools and gauges, I could figure it out.  But I don't.  Darn it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Q is for Questions

Another A to Z blog post day.  Weather is cloudy with humidity and possible thunderstorms later are predicted.

But today, Q is for Questions.

Because I'm full of them, after the HVAC tech came.

First I was told the system was vastly under the correct pressure, and that it needed recharged.  But later, this was reversed and I was told it was overcharged.  Really?  How could it be possible that one minute its undercharged and 15 minutes later I am told the opposite?

I asked how the system could possibly be overcharged, as it is a closed system.  I had to answer that for myself with logic.  Restricted space.  If a closed system has so much coolant, restrict its space to occupy, from its original space, and you have an overcharged system.  Think of blood pressure and if your arteries get clogged, restricting the space for your blood to flow.

He told me the evaporative coil inside the heat exchanger, in the garage, is restricted.  So how does that happen.   Good question in a closed system.  But again, like arteries, I surmise, if something even small broke off, say a corrosion inside a pipe, and clogs the capillaries of the coil, so part of it gets no circulation, you'll get restriction.

He said the coil needs replaced, then cited the price of a new coil, without labor.  You ready to be blown away?   Over $2000, just for the part.  With labor, over $5000.   I was blown away and more QUESTIONS arose.

We left it at that, my brother (on the phone) and I.  Because he wanted to consult people he knows, where he lives, people he uses on job sites, to find out things and answer his questions, like can the coil be removed and flushed out, can a used one be found, all that.

We did just blow over $700 on that darn thing just after Thanksgiving when the blower motor failed.

Question:  What are these what specks, on the electrostatic air filter/cleaner?

I can use the heat and cool if I want but its not doing its job and the resistance of a vastly inefficient now system, costs much more to operate in electricity, due to higher resistance.  So I shut it down.

My furnace had a heart attack, is really what appears to have happened.  Something broke off and clogged its vital fluids circulation capacity.  Now the question my brother is pondering is if the coil can be replaced more cheaply some way or repaired or if it is wiser to replace the entire set up.

I found a site that advertises furnace with heat pump for under $2000.  How can that be, when I was told a coil alone for the heat exchanger costs over $2000, without labor.  More QUESTIONS.

Yes, I'm watching  youtube videos on it.  I love this guy!  Here he is replacing a coil.  First you have to drain the coolant out and afterwards, recharge it, and that can cost over $100 per lb of coolant.  My system takes 6 lbs. R-22. 6 lbs of R-22 refrigerant, to recharge it after the coil is replaced, adds almost $700 to the bill,

Question:  Are the machines out to get me today?  My weed whacker, that I did fear might be fried, after trying to whack the bank owned house's lawn next door, when the weeds topped 16 inches, is indeed now deceased.  Why?   Well, today I plugged it in to cut the cat yard grass, hoping I'd just overheated the electric motor when cutting that bank's yard.  Instead, the thing started, whirred slowly, began smoking, then caught fire.  I unplugged it and ran it out to the driveway, grabbed the fire extinguisher (just a can) from the car, and doused it good.  Now, I'm minus a weed whacker too, and I sure want to charge that bank.  They didn't maintain that lawn, although they finally came and mowed it.  When weeds are that high, the place becomes known empty.  The weed seeds were blowing onto my yard too.  So I tried to do something about it and paid a price.

But the next two fence sections are done.  At least there's that.

 The weather is supposed to cool down but not be too cold so I should be just fine until we figure out what to do.


Bye bye A to Z.   Getting fewer comments, today zero, and the time involved, of reading other blogs and commenting, guess I'm feeling overwhelmed by today's events and I'm done.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

P is for Peachy

A to Z blog post again.  Are we done yet?

P is for Peachy!

Yup, Peachy.

Well, how else would I describe another problem with the heat/cool system here?

It's been blistering hot the last couple of days, almost 90 F in fact.  In April?

But why didn't my heat pump cool the house, I wondered.  It tried, but it failed, and could not get the house lower than about 76 degrees.

Worried, that another expensive repair was coming, I cleaned all the filters last night, let them dry overnight, since I had turned the units off, and put them back in this morning, hoping for the best.

But as the temperature once again climbed into the high 80's, the house again warmed up miserably.  I called my brother.  My poor brother.

He said its likely a refrigerant leak and to call the repair people.  Not the company that took forever to get the fan motor last Thanksgiving, and wouldn't communicate about when it might get done and when we would try to find out, we'd get the royal run around, or lies as to when the part would come (or even be ordered).  So, will try a different company.

The one issue he is worried about, if it is a leak, is if the units are too old to recharge with the new environmentally friendlier refrigerants which I guess operates at a higher pressure.  And if it can't be recharged, then it has to be replaced, and that is vastly expensive and difficult.  I groaned when he told me this.  It's all he needs and all I need.   Let's hope for the best I told him.

Just Peachy, is all I could think.

I've been trying to do two more fence sections, before somebody buys the house next door.  A friend gave me the supplies, to do two more sections.  Gave Me!  That was so generous.   There are still three sections to finish, when I scrounge the money somewhere.  By the end of the summer I hope to have it done.

And I will be back up in Sweet Home, to hopefully catch the rest of the cats needing caught up there, for a clinic this weekend.   That will be stressful and hard work, but worth it once over and I can think back about it, when well slept and joints and muscles rested.

You want to see Lucy, the gray tux girl I trapped up there, who was already ear tipped (fixed), but too skinny and dehydrated and sick to release again.  So I took her over to Heartland for testing and worming, brought her back.  She's been in a cage in the garage, but it got too hot, so I moved her into the bathroom.  She's really a sweetie.

She's just peachy in fact.

Well, life is that way, the good, the bad and the ugly.  I'm sure the heating cooling system is not out to get me.   Stuff happens, especially when machines get old.  And people.

P is for Peachy.