Friday, March 28, 2008

Two Different Contractors, Two Different Solutions

A while back I had a plumbing contractor come out to give me a price on upgrading our water system. New water softener, iron filter, water heater, and a few other misc. upgrades.

$4,000.00. The guy was here on time and really knew his stuff. He even had one of those cool metal clipboards which all the best contractors have. He suggested either lining our chimney or switching the water softener over to a power-vent. The water heater is the only item currently using the chimney and it doesn't generate enough heat to burn off the moisture in the chimney. This could lead to problems.

That's fine with me, since I'd like to take the chimney down below the roof line so I could patch the roof where it currently exits the roof. This removes one major area that is prone to leakage.

The thing I really liked was that he gave me a full written estimate which detailed all of the items that would be done for the price. None of the existing copper from the pressure-tank to the softener and iron filter would be kept, it'd all be replaced with larger diameter pipe, new on/off valves, etc. All new.

Today I had another company come out. The guy who showed up really puzzled me. He knows plenty about pipe sizes and about the water softener/iron filter combination that they sell, but beyond that, he didn't seem to have a clue. I asked about a power vent for the water heater and it was like I was talking another language. That made me nervous. His sales-pitch was pretty much non-existent.

I asked about pricing and he just said $1,900 for the water softener/iron filter, and they'd change pipes as necessary. He didn't know what the water heater would cost but said it might require electrical upgrades. Um, no, it won't. I had those done and pointed out all the dedicated outlets and breakers.

By the sound of it he'll also want to re-use the existing flexible gas supply line for the water heater. Um, no way. It was done half-ass 15-20 years ago and I don't want it like that any more. No written estimate for a job that could cost $3,000 or more, either. Makes me wonder how these guys have stayed in business.

So let's just say the water heater costs $1,000.00. (the first company figured $900). I'll be about a grand less than the first company, but is it worth it? I'm leaning towards the more expensive contractor because he not only spelled out what was going to be needed, but also put it in writing.

In theory there should be no surprises, since they're replacing everything except the pressure tank. I'll talk it over with the wife tonight and make an appointment in the next day or two to have the work done.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Blizzard Does a Vanishing Act

So we ended up with about a foot of new snow yesterday which gave us enough snow to make this season the 2nd heaviest for snowfall on record for us.

Today temps were in the upper 30's, and about half of the snow has already melted. The driveways are dry and most of the streets are dry except for where the city did a half-ass job plowing.

Tomorrow is supposed to be in the upper 30's and Monday in the low 40's, so I expect us to be mostly snow-free again in a few days.

Weird weather...

Friday, March 21, 2008

Is it Winter Already?!?

This morning when I left for work around 6:15 it was dark out. Even in the darkness, I knew there was no snow.

At 5:00 the same day:

The Minivan-o'-Deth is covered in about 8" of heavy packing snow. The local fish-wrap is predicting 10-15" before it's all over. That normally means we'll get 2" or 40". So far, they're not far off, and the fun is expected to last through the night.

Moral of the story: if you tell Mother Nature that you'll still respect her in the morning, don't post naked pictures of her with a donkey on the internet from her own computer while she's still passed out. I swear they were Photoshopped!

On the good side, I finally got a good chance to try the 4wd capabilities of the Jeep and am extremely impressed with how well it goes through snow. I had about 14" of snow at the end of the drive and it just crawled right through it without spinning the tires or making a running start. It never felt out of control and didn't slide a bit on the hard-packed snow-covered roads.

I really need to put a hitch and some recovery hooks on it though. I carry two tow straps just in case, but have nowhere good to hook them up except for the axles, and I'm not a fan of using them like that.

Once Spring gets here....