Independent, Fee-Only Financial Advisor

Independent, Fee-Only Financial Advisor

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

When Should You Call a Professional?

Every summer, something goes wrong with my air conditioner. Two years ago, the repair man rewired my thermostat. Last summer, he replaced the control panel on the furnace. This summer when he came out, we were both at a loss as to what was happening.

For a while, I could make the air conditioning work just by hitting the side of the outside compressor unit. That was not a permanent solution, however. With the outside temperatures getting into the high 90's, and the inside not far behind, I had to do something.

While working from home, I decided to use my former commute time to try to solve the puzzle.

Since hitting the compressor made it come on, I surmised that is where the problem lay. There are only a few pieces of the puzzle once you open up the compressor, and I quickly saw that the contactor wasn't working properly. AC takes a lot of electricity, and the contactor is the switch in between the thermostat and the compressor. I found the part online and paid extra for the express shipping.

New Contactor - Do I have AC?
New contactor - do I have AC?

A few days later, I installed the new part and ... nothing. All Saturday morning was spent on the phone with an electrician trying to diagnose the issue. Ultimately, this led me to a break in the wire leading from the thermostat to the compressor. I just needed to run a new wire.

After running the new wire, I needed to replace a fuse in the attic. Did I mention it was 100 degrees outside? It may as well have been 200 degrees in the attic. Finally - the house started to cool!

Did I mention the temperature?
If this was a video, you would see the sweat streaming down.

I wrote myself an invoice:
  • $31.62 for a new contactor
  • $17.73 for new wires
  • $20.82 for a wire stripper, connectors and a new fuse
  • Countless hours researching possible solutions.
Value of doing it myself? Questionable.

Doing household projects myself can be fun, can give me a sense of accomplishment, and in some cases, can save me money! Hiring a professional to do the job, however, saves me time, frustration and ensures that the job is done well. In this case, I may have saved a few dollars, but I paid in frustration and lost time for a second rate job.

So, last weekend when the washing machine backed up, I took a minute to stare at the pipes ... and called the plumber.