I added about $7,600 to the massive debt. Uggh!
I was going to say something more profound to describe what I’m feeling, but I think this video sums up the feeling…
The chaos…the screaming…that’s about how it went down in my head.
I added debt in order to cool off…literally. My Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system for the upstairs of the house just kicked the bucket. I knew this day was coming, but I didn’t plan for it. Sort of like the ostrich with his head in the sand, I hoped I could just ignore the problem and it would go away.
It didn’t go away.
Old HVAC Systems
We bought a foreclosed house at a great deal, but it came with some “issues.” We fixed up the immediate needs and moved in. The pile of “these can wait” repairs included the old HVAC systems for the house.
We have two HVAC zones, one upstairs and one downstairs. That means two different systems. Both units were installed when the house was built, about 26 years ago. Let me tell you, 26 years is a long, long time for HVAC systems to last, especially in our climate.
These things had so many band-aid repairs that it would be difficult to count. I’ve had many repair techs come out and to put band-aids on them and I would often hear something that sounded like this…
“Whew! I haven’t seen one of these in forever.”
“We have a fan motor for one of these that has been sitting on the shelf for over 10 years.”
“That part has no markings left on it. I’m going have to guess at what size it is.”
“Back when these were installed, they didn’t even have a ratings system for system efficiency.”
Basically, everyone who saw these systems told me they were old. When I would ask how much longer they might last, no one would commit to anything. Rightfully so. But somehow, they managed to keep heating and cooling the house with the temporary repairs.
Giving Out…All at Once
Finally, the systems gave out, and at the worst possible times. First, the downstairs system kicked the bucket. That one went out this past February, during the coldest part of the winter. Awesome! That was $5,200.
Then, the upstairs system kicked the bucket. This one went out in August, during some of the hottest days of the summer. Awesomer! This one is $7,600.
This just adds misery to an already ugly financial situation. We were forced to take on more debt in order to stay comfortable in our own house. We live in southern Virginia, which means that it gets cold enough in the winter to always need heat and it gets hot and humid to the tune of 100+ degrees for much of the summer. There are very few weeks where we don’t have either the heat or air conditioning running.
I would think that the downside of losing both HVAC systems within 6 months is obvious…the serious financial hit. Plus, it’s no fun to freeze in February and sweat in August. However, there is a great upside to this situation.
• We installed brand new HVAC systems that are the size we need for our house. These are custom to our house. The old systems were installed by home builders and they were not ideal. The systems were undersized for the home, meaning they had to work harder to keep up with our temperature demands.
• Our heating and cooling efficiency just went as high as can be. The new systems are rated for high efficiency, whereas, the old systems never had an efficiency guideline to meet and were not even meeting that low standard because of their age.
• Over time our electric bills will go down because the new systems won’t be cycling as frequently as the old ones did.
• I may be able to get a rebate from my power company for the new systems. There are two potential rebates available, one for $300 from Energy Star and one for $200 from our power company. At least it’s something.
There is always a tradeoff for financial moves like this. Sure, I have to take a huge hit to my wallet today, but the silver lining is that I save money over time. Not to mention increasing the resale value of my house.
I need to focus on the positive anywhere that I can. I’ve got massive debt to tackle and setbacks like this are not helping me.
The only regret I think about, and this is very briefly, is that I never budgeted for the HVAC system replacement earlier. Had I taken my head out of the sand and planned for this when we bought the house, I might have been able to soften the blow a bit. But like I said, I don’t dwell on regrets and the past, so I can only focus on the future with cool air and reduced debt.
Have you been surprised by any major house repairs? Tell me about them in the comments.