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Fixerated for 1/4 the cost…

October 9th, 2007

For about two months our AC has been living on shaky ground. An aging Condenser Fan motor wasn’t keeping the air moving, and the refrigerant pump would trip off on high pressure. So for about six weeks, I’d go out and push the reset button, to get it going, and then will the fan to start turning. I watched the fan motor slowly die. I’d gotten a quote from Service Masters for $400+ to replace the motor, but didn’t have the money to have them fix that, and really we need a whole new condenser since this one is 20+ years old.

This weekend the motor finally died. It no longer went roundy-roundy with any type of power applied. It was totally frozen, couldn’t even turn the motor by hand.  Since I can’t afford the several hundred dollars it would cost to replace the whole condenser to keep us cool for the next couple weeks, until fall finally comes, I tried to find a replacement motor online. Found a few, but lacked the confidence to really do the replacement myself. After I talked to a friend, Mark, at church on Sunday, and having him confirm my plans, I was much more confident that it could be done.

So yesterday, after I’d picked up Angie from the airport, I called up Mark, and we started searching for the motor. The first couple places we found only sold to licensed contractors (what a messed up racket that is) but Mark was able to track down a hole-in-the-wall little AC replacement parts place in Garland, that had what we needed in stock. Thirty-minute drive into the heart of Garland, to Tolbert Electric Motor Company and we had the motor for 1/4 of the Service Master’s quote. We just had to get fan-blades, since the old blades seemed welded to the shaft. (I say ‘seemed’ for a reason, its called foreshadowing) The helpful guys at Tolbert went back to find comparable blades, and came back with a set that was bent on one blade, then went back to find their whole stock was bent.

This is why the whole experience was great. The three guys in the store made it their personal mission to get my old blades off the old motor. The put the old motor into a vice grip, and with a hammer tried to loosen the blades by striking the shaft. That only drove the shaft through the bottom of the motor housing. So they cut off the shaft, and put it in a pipe-jig they had handy for just this type of thing, and proceeded to hammer away at the shaft — no dice. The blades weren’t moving. So they take it in the back and grind away at the shaft to finally free the blades, and give them to me. The cashier joked that was $119 for the labor, the motor was free. But seriously. You don’t get that kind of service at the big stores. So remember that when you’re looking for repair AC parts, Tolbert goes the extra mile.

30 minute drive back, and 15 minutes of wrench turning had the new motor and blades installed, and we packed up our tools and headed inside, just before the rain hit. A few hours later, the inside temps were 80 degrees and falling, and I went over to Mark’s house to watch MNF. But that, my friends is another story.

  1. October 9th, 2007 at 09:14 | #1

    Places like that are awesome! Glad you got it all fixerated.

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