Monday, July 27, 2009

The Best Nest

"'I love my house, I love my nest! Of all the rest, my nest is best!' sang Mr. Bird.

'It is not the best nest,' said Mrs. Bird from inside the house."

Alas, my precious castle of a house is, likewise, not the best nest. However, quoting one of my favorite books should not mislead you into thinking that Joseph and I disagree about our nest. It's just that he's outside it and I'm inside it, so my view is just a tad darker about just how bad the nest now appears to be.

The a/c is off again. After a long day of the temperature slowly climbing inside, with the unit going at a steady pace, there were already a number of reasons to feel less that genteel about our environmental control systems. However, a concurrent problem pushed me over the edge--so far over the edge that I broke my cardinal rule and called the 24-hour maintenance number. In my downstairs hallway, the little tiny puddle of unexplained water on the carpet was slowly growing. Not only that, but he was reproducing.

With a saucer-sized wet spot at the kitchen doorway and about $2.50 worth of silver-dollar-sized wet spots in attendance, I called The Man. The Man was concerned, and asked me a list of "is ..... leaking?" All my answers were nos, so he said, "Well, if you've got it coming up through the carpet, whatever damage that'll be done is done. We'll be there first thing in the morning." Wonderful. Not my house, I only rent, so it doesn't hurt me at all.

Still, with my totally awesome family in residence, the mystery was just too good to pass up. What on God's green earth could possibly be producing water from beneath my house? Brother suggests we look at the outside closet/utility space that houses the downstairs water heater and all the ductwork for the a/c (the physical unit is upstairs). Voila. Merrily trickling down the ductwork is a steady stream of supposed condensation, which has pooled about an inch deep upon the concrete foundation of my house.

This is now a bigger problem than we thought--the electric boxes for the house are in that closet, the grounding wires run amok within as well, and the framing of the house is steel. They're going to have to shut the power off at the road to clean all that up. ("Well, cow poopy," I say to my father, oh the phone, as I survey the closet.) To confirm my opinion, we notice that water is actually seeping to the outside of the house along the edge of the foundation, as well. How nice.

Now we're really intrigued, so I send my brother upstairs with the phone in hand. He inspects the unit's actual location (along with, vicariously, my father) and calls down: "Yeah, there's water here in the floor, too." Wonderful. So dad sends us looking all over for the drain line, hither and thither, because we want to find out if it is clogged. We look, and nothing is to be found. However, in the meantime, I had the good sense to really think about the layout of my house, and did determine that the water we were seeing come through the carpet had made at least the 3-foot journey from that closet floor, underneath the corner of the kitchen linoleum, to the visible location under the carpet.

How far has it gone along the other three compass points, I wonder? That's what got me up at 0430 this morning. The refrigerator, downstairs bathroom, pantry, and washing machine are all within reach. I feel like a geologist. Whence cometh the magma? When will the volcano explode?

But back to the drain line. We couldn't find anything that looked point-blank like a drain line. I reminded dad that this was not a traditional a/c unit, and he said, "Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhmmmmmm...........ugh. Yeah. It's that energy efficient thing, isn't it?"

Yes, it is.

My a/c unit is 10-15 years old, and was one of the original "green" large appliances. Rather than using a fan unit and a big compressor outside the home, my unit pumps ground-cooled water from below the house, runs air across the ground-cooled water (supplemented by a little compressor supplying freon-cooled air), and feeds it into the house. It uses less energy, less fuel, less freon, and works like an absolute dream in temperate climates. Unfortunately, this is not a temperate climate. The best the unit can do with the ground-cooled water is 10-15 degrees cooler than the outside temperature. Not only that, but it tends to break down fairly often because of its highly organic nature--fewer moving parts, but more parts that can get dirty, clogged, or otherwise become nonfunctional. Not only that, but the entire unit is twined up inside the house, instead of having an outside unit that can easily be accessed and serviced (oh, yeah, and when it leaks it does so outside).

Not only that, but when you have water leaking, it doesn't have to be a drain line. There are two major supply lines of plain old honest groundwater that run up through the center of my house--my father has realized that we might be dealing with a bigger demon than we thought.

Unfortunately, it's still four and a half hours until The Man comes to look at everything, so you'll have to stay tuned for what happens next. We turned the unit off at 2030 last night, both to stop further water accumulation (we hope--do the supply lines run all the time?) and because it had ceased cooling sometime late the night before. It's now pretty miserable in here, and I feel so bad for my family having to deal with all this. Thankfully, they can use the fans I have. I can't run a fan in my bedroom, unless I want to have my pregnancy equivalent of an athsma attack. So, it's hot, nasty, mytersious, and five o'clock in the morning.

Sigh. I love my nest.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry I wasn't there. We'd have been in the Lejeune Inn in a heartbeat.