The A/C Broke in the Middle of Summer

In hindsight i should have known that it was not all in my head that this summer was hotter than ones of the past. It was. Because inside the house when the window unit said “70 degrees” it was really 85. The window unit had been slowly failing for over a month and i had chalked it up to the unbearable weather. I began keeping my boxers in the freezer, stocking popsicles to help with the unbearable heat, and just walking around with no clothes on after a time. What i did not consider was that the LED screen on my window unit was lying to me and telling me the temperature it was shooting for rather than the temperature it could achieve in its poorly state. I began setting the temperature lower and lower, unable to sleep in the stifling heat even after sundown. One day i had set it to “70 degrees” and the unit was blowing lukewarm air. I thought, “That sure doesnt feel like 70 degrees.” I was also concerned that the amount of air coming through the unit into the house wasnt much of a puff. The unit would kick on and off, on and off….but if i was to believe the unit kicked off when it reached set temperature, why was it kicking off at all, for surely this unit had not at all reached 70 degrees? I pulled the outside thermometer into the house and left it alone for an hour, hoping it would stop registering the temperature outside and start registering the temperature inside. It ended up being about 90 degrees inside the tiny house by the time i made a run to get the animals to a more habitable home. It was probably in the high 80s while i was registering i might have a big problem on my hands and calling around to see if anyone would take the dogs and the baby chickens for the night so i could get them out of there and focus on fixing the problem. After asking a few people and getting a resounding “no” to a stock tank full of baby chickens in their house i made a strategic decision to just ask another homesteader and omit some information about the details of who they’d be taking in. I was pretty sure my friend Cindy was still out of state visiting her children and grandchildren. I called her and asked if she would mind if i put the dogs at her house in their crates until i could get the a/c fixed. She said sure and that we could stay as long as we needed. Now, she had taken in the adult chickens willingly during icepocalypse and saved their lives so i was pretty sure she would say it was fine to bring the baby chickens but i didnt know for sure, as they came with a heat lamp and in all honesty, those are always a liability just because they are hot. In this situation i had turned the heat lamp off an hour ago and the baby chickens were lethargic and panting. I had to get them out of that house and into a place with working climate control measures or they were going to die. Since she was my only hope to save them i figured i’d omit the information and ask forgiveness later. I left a bunch of eggs from the adult chickens in her refrigerator before our departure from her homestead as a thank you.

I wanted to spend time cleaning the house so it was presentable for the repair man and calling the hardware stores to see if they had a replacement unit but at some point it became apparent i had to get the panting dogs and baby chickens to a safe place before i could proceed or i would lose them. Outside it was 104 degrees and i was really out of time at this point. The a/c repair man had texted me back after i had left a message on his phone stating he was out of town but that i should turn the unit off, hose it down with water, wait an hour, and turn it back on. I had done this, waiting about 45 minutes vs an hour, because boy did it get hot when it wasnt blowing at all. What happened was that when i turned it back on there was this horrible sputtery wimpy noise as if blades were trying to turn but not really making it, and barely any air came out of it at all. The a/c repair man stated that the compressor had overheated. I asked if it was something that could be fixed or i would need another unit. He said i would likely need another unit. Now i was in damage control mode. Save the animals. Come back and handle the rest. I took apart and folded the crates, put down the seats in the back of the car, and slid them in. I put the padlock and zip ties in the car as cashew couldn’t be kept in her crate without them. An unziptied crate is a mangled heap of metal after an aussie has been left alone without a job for over an hour. I would prefer her to be outdoors all year but the texas heat just doesnt allow for that. When its over 93 degrees, i leave them indoors when i leave the house. I grabbed the heat lamp and made bags of food for everybody. I caught all the baby chickens ans put them in a cat taxi. I dragged the stock tank into the driveway and lifted one end into the trunk, sliding it in beside the folded dog crates. I threw more shavings in it to cover the recent poos so it would smell better in her house. I grabbed the wire panels i used as a lid and the board of wood that anchored them and stuck that in the trunk as well. I put the baby chickens in the back seat beside their stock tank and loaded both dogs into the front seat together with their bowls and leashes. I turned on a mild amount of ac for myself and the dogs but with no heat lamp i couldnt make it too cold in the car without hurting the baby chickens.

When i arrived at Cindy’s homestead i was overwhelmed with what to do first. Everybody needed something. The baby chickens needed a heat lamp. The dogs needed air conditioner. Everybody needed water. I simply picked a task and just kept going until everything was unloaded and set up. Cashew’s crate was reinforced with zip ties and the heat lamp was attached to an anchored chair in her guest bathroom. Both dogs were pottied and put in their crates with water. The baby chickens were released in the stock tank with full food and water dispensers and an anchored heat lamp, as well as the cookie sheets on half the wire panels i used to make shade lest the lamp get too hot for them.

At this point i knew the animals were going to survive and i returned to the house to clean. I performed the usual evening chores. I stayed up all night to clean. I slept in my bed with no a/c for about 45 minutes and then i got up and showered in my house, not having moved any of my clothes or toiletries to her house, tried not to sweat through my scrubs, downed some breakfast from the fridge, situated the adult chickens with food, water, and swimming pool for the afternoon heat, and then drove to Cindy’s homestead one town over to potty and feed the dogs and baby chickens. After this i had to go to work. I tried to obtain a suitable replacement for the window unit after work but walmart lied to me. They swore they had one with a perpendicular plug. I told them i worked in fredericksburg, lived in center point, had my animals in comfort, and had no other reason to drive to kerrville tonight and so i really wanted them to be sure they had one on shelf and could hold it for me before i drove out there, because i had a lot to do between many cities and i was either going to be mad or cry if i drove all the way out there and they didnt even have it. He said they dont hold items for any reason but they have plenty with a perpendicular plug, just come on. So i drove to kerrville. By the time i got to walmart in kerrville there was no time to go anywhere else. The stores were closed. Walmart was the only one still open. Not only did they not have a unit with a perpendicular plug…they didnt carry a unit with a perpendicular plug. The man had lied to me. He hadnt checked on that perpendicular plug thing at all. He had just put the phone down, picked it up, and told me they had a lot of them. Furthermore, every time a physical customer walked up he said, “oh im going to have to put you on hold” and instead of putting me on hold he laid the phone down so that i could hear him conversing with other customers and right when i thought the conversation was ending id hear him say hello only to tell me, “i have a customer, im going to have to put you back on hold.” So it had taken a long time to get him to tell me what i needed to know, and i had waited patiently, only to have him lie to me. The trip, of course, was made for nothing. I went home to my super hot house empty handed. The next day my boss lowered my hours so “i could have an opportunity to go get this handled.” He’s a good boss. I did my same ritual where twice a day i visited both the plants and the adult chickens in center point and the dogs and the baby chickens in comfort. Where i was storing food and deodorant became complicated and confusing driving to three different towns a day. I wanted to strangle the patient who was telling me off for bringing too much stuff to work. The only way i could be sure i had my deodorant, meds, and snacks, was to bring them with me, and since it was too hot to leave them in the car, they had to come inside in two HEB bags tucked under the desk. This particular patient felt it was a tacky move.

It was at this moment that the car hit 25,000 miles which meant i had to bring it in for service or i would lose the lifetime warranty for the engine and transmission (known to be faulty following lawsuit). So i decided to kill two birds with one stone. I found a lowes in san antonio that had perpendicular plug window units. I would get the car serviced and then pick up a window unit.

There was an intriguing woman sitting in the san antonio car dealership’s waiting room. She was wearing what looked to be a bra and women’s boxer briefs. It was a very form fitting outfit and they were definitely undergarments rather than real clothes. The bottoms were made of soft material, perhaps cotton, and they had seam lines as if they were an undergarment and not just skimpy shorts. My first question was why was this woman wearing nothing but underwear and a bra? My second question was why were all of us ignoring the fact that this woman was wearing nothing but undergarments? Most of the guys were looking at the ceiling or adjacent wall and though occasionally a woman would give her a once over glance, nobody actually said anything to her and she ignored the glances from other ladies. When they called her to get her car she stood up and walked to the counter in such a way that caused her butt cheeks to bounce with every step, sticking her hips out to the side like it was a sass contest. I was like, “who does this? Who goes to pick up their car in their underwear man?” I was living in alien world right about then, astonished that nobody was going to invoke the no shirt no shoes no service rule. She was wearing shoes. Not the shirt though. Her boobies were spilling out and her nipples were visible through the bra. The part i was most peeved about was that she came in after me and left before me. It took them over two hours to service my car. At least the guy i dealt with was fairly kind and no-nonsense. To be clear, i went to san antonio because i refuse to get the car serviced by the same crew who took out a 25,000 dollar loan in my name and ruined my credit for a bit there.

When the car was finished i drove to lowes only to find that while they had perpendicular plugs, the horizontal line was on the wrong side…they were opposite the perpendicular plug i needed. They had adapters for every kind of plug except mine.

I called the a/c repair man in tears. At this point, i had a perpendicular plug (that was backwards from the layout of my perpendicular outlet) 550 sq foot a/c and heat window unit in my basket.

I was holding irrelevant adapters in my hand. I had a clueless 17 year old employee to my right who was super excited because he’d found me an outlet exactly the same as the one i had at home. I was trying to muster the effort to explain to him that i already had the outlet and didn’t need another, i needed a plug that would fit in the outlet…. I was so disappointed and lost and hopeless. The a/c repair man asked me to stop crying and said it would be okay. I said, “im just in one town with half the animals and the other half of the animals and the plants are in another town, and i work in a third town, and im so tired and confused and im never sure everyone’s taken care of at any given time. i just want to be back in my house and i dont see a way to ever be back in my house.” He said he could take the cord off the old unit and attach it to the new one. It was like God had sent down an angel and made a miracle happen. I stopped crying, bought the window unit, and convinced one of the employees to load it into the car. He was busy telling me how if the plug didnt fit in the outlet i could just flip it upside down and then it would fit. I said, “but then the third prong would be up top rather than on bottom.” He said, “no, it wouldnt, not from what i understand.” I sighed.

I called the a/c repair guy and told him i had the unit and inquired as to what day he was available for install. He was all booked. Bless him, he told me he’d come that night and to just call him when i made it half way there and he’d set out.

I called him. He came out and i helped him install the unit as i always do when he doesnt bring a second guy with him. His son was coming but got tired after swimming. He totally installed the new unit and took the old one away in around an hour and a half. He only charged me sixty bucks. I wanted to pay him more so he said 65. I paid him with 65 dollars, eternal gratitude, and 8 chicken eggs (all i had after paying cindy in eggs).

Suddenly there was a/c. I breathed a sigh of relief. The dwelling would be livable again. I could shuttle the animals back over the following day.

I packed up and drove to comfort to sleep a couple hours with the dogs and give water and food to the baby chickens before going to work.

They were so happy to spend a couple hours with me before work, Cashew slept on my chest and Sili beside me.

After work, exhausted as i was, i set about moving the stock tank and the dog crates back to center point and putting all the animals back where they belonged. Only when every animal was under the same roof with me did i breathe a sigh of relief.

Normally, this would be the part of the story where i took a rest. However, it seems that everything has a habit of happening all at once and just in case i got my wish and was granted the surgical procedure i was praying to have green lit, i needed to totally reorganize and further clean the property so that it would be functional and easy to operate for a house sitter in the case that someone needed to feed the chickens and water the plants while i was at the hospital. So the cleaning continued. The pile of dishes behind the rocking chair had to be washed and with the shed in disarray and overfilled from 4 years of adding tools, chicken tractors, plant blankets, a boxed mattress, and lawn care machinery, i needed to think about keeping some key cookware and dishes in the house. I bought three insanely expensive plastic tubs at the dollar general (you’re kind of stuck when its the only store that carries plastic tubs in town but the cashier herself said there’s no reason a plastic tub should cost $15.00). I filled the tubs with all the newly washed and dried cookware, dishes, and utensils. I stacked them behind the rocking chair. I just had a few more surfaces to scrub and a daily sweeping of dog hair and dirt from the floor. I began enforcing my no spiders in the house policy, because they web up the curtains. I began wiping the dead moths off the counters daily (theyre attracted to the porch light in the predawn mornings, come in, and die). I also began cleaning the window unit filter every sunday, not when the filter light went on. It was filthy after 7 days of use. Perhaps this will make it last longer than a couple years.

For now, it is lovely to be cool. It feels so nice to sleep with the a/c on. Im not sweating all the time. No clothes are in the freezer and the lowest the unit has been set is 77 degrees. It is so good to have climate control back that i dont even care the unit is so loud the box television volume must be on 35 for me to hear my nat geo tapes. It is so loud it sounds like someone is vacuuming and no one is. I’m just thrilled that the beast is as powerful as it is and the house is cool again. This one runs continuously so ill never hear the youtube shows on my phone in the house again but that’s okay, i watch them on my lunch break in my car. I’ll watch the nat geo and comedy vhs tapes at home. Beggars cant be choosers about noise level and i was definitely begging. I was at the end of my rope and sanity.

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  1. There are two perpendicular plug types. One is for 120 volts and the other is for 220 (230) volts. As you noticed the positions of the horizontal and vertical blades are swapped. There will not be an adapter to switch between the two types of plugs.

    1. I am learning that there is some knowledge that has not been passed down to my generation because every time this thing breaks both myself and all the store employees my age or younger that i encounter are so out of our element…i wish i could take the a/c guy and the electrician who created the outlet with me shopping so i know what to get…. The a/c guy couldnt remember how many volts the last one we installed was, i was in san antonio, the unit was in center point, and the electrician didnt answer the phone. He said, “there should be a sticker somewhere on the unit” and i began crying because im sure there was, but i had driven to the city to buy a unit and if i drove back to look, they’d be closed by the time i returned. So my plan was to buy one of each and return the one i didnt need but a family member scoured the internet until she found the specs of the old unit. Then i bought the one in the basket. The plug was not remotely similar to the outlet i had…i didnt see him do it because i was outside holding the unit in the window while he nailed it down but it was running by the time i came in so i would assume he somehow swapped the cords.

  2. If that video doesn’t help, I have LOTS more info! 🙂

    retired electrical engineer that earned tuition money as an electrician and fixing 2-way radios.

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