Sunday, December 31, 2006

The never-ending fan saga finally comes to an end

Originally uploaded by ffacker.
Some of you have already heard this story, but some haven't so I'll start from the beginning, but keep it brief.

A few months ago the ceiling fan in my bedroom quit working. There was no sounds of bad bearings or slow failure -- just one day it no longer switched on. I've done some electrical wiring for lights, wallplugs and telephone lines in the past, but I'd never done a fan. Plus, I didn't have a ladder tall enough to reach the vaulted ceiling of the bedroom. Plus, I had a home warranty that supposedly covered ceiling fans.

Being kind of lazy about things that aren't dire emergencies it took me at least two months before I got around to calling the home warranty company to get my fan fixed. They referred me to an electrical repair company in my area that would do the repair for the $55 deductible. Well, the first problem was that they don't do repairs on weekends. Apparently the home warranty company only reimburses these contracters for work done on weekdays. That was a problem. Although I was home nearly every weekend, I was working and traveling during the weeks and had no desire to take vacation time to get a fan fixed.

Finally I got a time scheduled on a Friday I had off for an electrician to come out and check my fan. He checked the wall switch. He checked the electric output of the wires running to the fan. He then said, "Yep, you need a new fan."

Well, the home warranty covers replacement of fans. However, what they never told me was that they only pay for "builder level" replacements. That meant that yes, they would put a new fan up there for me, but it was going to be one really ugly, cheap-ass fan. After informing the company what a ridiculous policy this was, I finally agreed to go buy my own fan and let them reimburse me $50 for it, which is the max cost they would pay for a fan.

Fast forward a week. I'm back from El Paso and go buy a fan at Home Depot. I found this really cool-looking contemporary style fan for about $100. I brought it home and everyone said, "Man, that is a cool fan." It had some serious style. Unfortunately, it had LEDs for lights instead of standard light bulbs. I was actually enthused about this because LEDs virtually last forever, put out almost no heat, and draw very little power. At Christmas I gave my dad and my brother-in-law LED flashlights, and we were all sitting around discussing whether you could actually wire a house with LEDs for lights. What I found out though was that LEDs are nowhere near bright enough to light a room.

I did take some precious vacation time Friday afternoon, and the electrician returned to install my new sweet-ass fan. The electrician even commented on the design. It took him about an hour to put it together and get it hung. Then he flipped on the lightswitch. Talk about dissapointment. The LEDs gave off a faint glow comparable to soft moonlight, but didn't light the room at all. The electrician was like, "Wow, I'm really glad I'm not the one who bought this fan." Then he packed up his stuff and left me sitting there in the pale glow of the LEDs to ponder what the hell I was going to do.

I got everyone's opinion on the light. It was suggested that I just get some lamps. I even scavenged one of my brother's lamps out of the garage, but it really still did nothing to light the room. I went back to Home Depot and tried to find a new light kit to put on it. No luck.

I was sitting working at the computer Friday evening and twice I got up to turn the lights on and then realized they were already on. I couldn't see my keyboard. I definitely couldn't read anything by that light. I decided it had to go.

At this point my home warranty claim was closed out. They had indeed replaced the fan. Their job was done. Replacing the new fan fell back on me. Saturday morning I grabbed my 4' ladder, placed it atop the bed, said a quiet prayer for God to grant me balance, and climbed up to start disassembling the new fan.

I managed to get the new LED fan down without incident, but could not figure out how to get it back in the box. I took it back to home depot kind of half assembled and sticking up out of the box. I complained about the LED light and gave me a full refund with no hassles. The guy in the fan section actually told me that on Friday three of those fans were returned. Apparently quite a few people ran into the same problem.

I selected a new fan. It was a rather boring classic style, but it had four nice bright light bulbs. I took it home, climbed back onto the ladder on top of the bed and installed it. I never fell, and I only dropped the fan once.

So what it all comes down to is that I paid $40 a month for a home warranty over a matter of three months before this was resolved. That's $120. Add $55 for the service call deductible. Add $100 for a new fan. Then subtract the $50 reimbursement (whenever that supposedly shows up in the mail). That's $225 to get this fan replaced, and in the end, I'm the one who had to redo all the work. I'm thinking life would have been so much better if I'd just gone and spent the $100 on a fan one Saturday morning and replaced it myself in the first place. I could have even used that $125 I'd have saved to buy a really nice ladder, so I don't have to balance on the bed anymore!

Oh well, at least I'm starting 2007 with a working fan.
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