Thread Number: 76129  /  Tag: Air Conditioners
Friday's air conditioning call - rental unfit for habitation?
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Post# 999655   7/7/2018 at 21:18 by superocd (PNW)        

Had a call for a frozen evaporator (actually the call was about water "dribbling" from the front of the furnace, normally a condensate drain issue), the renter called on behalf of the landlord which authorized and paid for the call. The house was an older cabin-like structure in poor condition. The roof line dipped significantly in the middle. As I walked in the home, the furnace was right there in the middle of the kitchen. The supply plenum had one register, facing the front of the furnace. That register, which supposedly was supposed to supply heat and air for the entire house, was was totally caked with greasy dust. No ductwork whatsoever, just the plenum with conditioned air blowing out that one register. The house wasn't that big but it was still a shock. The return air was just a grille zip tied to the side of the furnace, where the return air duct would normally be attached. No filter either. There was an electronic air cleaner that was taken off the return inlet at some point because it was laying cockeyed next to the return grille attached to the furnace. The A-coil still looked like an iceberg, even after melting, which was the source of the "dribbling". The prognosis was not looking good.

As for the house there seemed to be some other issues. There was no HACR disconnect box at the condenser. The conduit ran from the condenser, up the wall and through the soffit. I had to go up to the only bedroom in the house, which was a semi-finished attic. The stairs were super narrow and steep and right at the top of the stairs there was a pile of clothes and general junk all over the floor. Not the time to be clumsy, I guess. I almost stepped on the chihuahua upstairs, which was sleeping under some blankets tossed off the mattress on the floor. The circuit breaker panel for the house was mounted *in between the rafters* in the unfinished part, which was literally a 15x20in. cutout in the drywall, with no access panel or board, there was just a hole in the wall into the attic, which was uninsulated, by the way. The renter didn't even know where the breaker panel was so it took me a while to find it. I made sure to point it out to her in case she ever needed it (hopefully not, but the house looked like a tinder box and with such sloppy electrical work, it would be imperative to be able to have immediate access to the breakers). The HVAC install and the electrical was obviously hack work and was certainly not done under a permit.

After I thawed and cleaned the evaporator off a little I did a leak test. The evaporator was the culprit, so a new evaporator was in order. After I discussed this in layman's terms with the renter, I called the landlord and explained this to him in layman's terms. He was apprehensive after I told him that I couldn't just "patch the hole" (his words) and that these "holes" are pinholes or cracks that can't be patched because we are working with high pressures. He declined the repair, which was estimated at about $1500 for parts, labor and tax, and said that he'd buy a window unit. From the impression I got from this guy, I wouldn't put it past him to buy a the cheapest 5k BTU unit out there for his tenant to use, which we all know would not cool down an entire house.

I was astonished at the condition of the home beyond the HVAC and electric and the fact that the landlord would rent out a house with such glaring issues and not be willing to fix his tenant's air conditioning. The house obviously had serious structural/foundation issues, since each side sloped noticeably from the middle. The roof was covered in moss and the comp shingles obviously expired 20 years too late. The counter in the kitchen was bare plywood--water stained and obviously a hygiene issue. I shuddered to think how food could be safely prepared on that countertop, if you could call it that. I did see an old Gibson stove (I think?) and the matching refrigerator and range hood, but those obviously have seen better days years ago. The only bathroom in the house was long but narrow width-wise, and the washer and dryer were crammed in to what little space was left from the sink, toilet and shower being there. I don't know how there would be room to open the dryer door let alone how the machines were even moved in place. The carpets and linoleum were frayed, ripped and stained, and every light fixture I saw in the house was just a bare bulb in a socket.

I actually felt bad for this tenant as I drove away.

Post# 999668 , Reply# 1   7/7/2018 at 23:57 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

rp2813's profile picture

Slumlords have no shame.

Post# 999694 , Reply# 2   7/8/2018 at 09:39 by goatfarmer (South Bend, home of Champions)        
Slumlordshave no shame

goatfarmer's profile picture

That's true, but if the tenant decides that living that way is alright, what do you do?

Post# 999702 , Reply# 3   7/8/2018 at 12:12 by neptunebob (Pittsburgh, PA)        
Was the renter elderly or infirm?

neptunebob's profile picture
They might be taken advantage of. I might call adult protective services as something like this might be considered elder abuse. If it is really dangerous for the person, call 911.

Post# 999712 , Reply# 4   7/8/2018 at 14:26 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

rp2813's profile picture

Um, you keep collecting the rent and (regardless of Lily Tomlin's skeptical query) laugh all the way to the bank?

Post# 999742 , Reply# 5   7/8/2018 at 20:01 by Yogitunes (New Jersey)        

yogitunes's profile picture
you have to be careful, as you could be walking on tricky ground with reporting something like this....

although it might seem like the right thing to do, and your intentions may be good, this could be all this person can afford....

and although services may come in and condemn the house, it may leave that person out on the street, or unable to afford the increased rent from the repairs that would have to be made...

if they had better options, they would call themselves, or move....

Post# 999745 , Reply# 6   7/8/2018 at 20:25 by Maytagbear (N.E. Ohio)        
There might

be few rental options in the area. I feel very sorry for the tenant. I live in a university town, and threrfore, rent prices are atificially high because of it.

My previous landlord........well, remember all the trouble I had with that furnace?


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