Ups and downs and ups

You know when you find a big puddle of water where there shouldn’t be a big puddle of water and you’re like, “Ugh, I hope that’s not pee” and then a second later you realize that it’s water that has run down the wall because there’s a leak somewhere and you suddenly are like, “Fuck. I should have wished for pee”? Except that I guess if it’s enough pee to leak through the ceiling that would be a whole other sort of problem. But this wasn’t pee. It was apparently our air conditioner melting down and leaking and overflowing some pan in the attic and so we had to turn off the air conditioner and the air conditioner repair people were like, “Yeah, we can come Thursday. Of next week. Maybe” and then my eye started twitching a little bit. That was my yesterday. But then today another air conditioner repair place was like, “We don’t have the people to make any big fixes right now but we can come take a look” and they were able to temporarily fix it enough that we can at least now work in our home offices without wearing ice pack vests made of ziplock bags and yelling at each other over the sound of box fans.

All this to say that you should go check your air conditioner filters right now because those things can fuck shit up. Did you even know air conditioners have filters? Me either. Also, stop wishing for “not pee” because sometimes pee is preferable.

57 thoughts on “Ups and downs and ups

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  1. “sometimes pee is preferable” may be my new favorite phrase.

    Sorry for the A/C incontinence; glad you’ve got at least a temporary fix!

  2. Change your filters at least once a month. We have 3 cats in a smaller ranch home and we’ve had our contractor out to vacuum out the outside moisture port thing… we had a small pond in our front coat closet and were very grateful to have tile floors everywhere.
    That was okay compared with the sewage line clogging up because the ground had settled down and bent the pipe. Emergency sewage repair is the best part of buying a house right?

  3. Oh, I much prefer pee. Pee is self limiting. “Water” means thousands in repair bills. I feel your pain! I hope it isn’t as hot as the surface of the sun like it is here in Missouri, but of course it is because your air went out. It’s a good day for a cocktail, isn’t it?

  4. We went 3 months last summer with our ac out, in the desert southwest. With all the fans going my house sounded like an airplane landing. Didn’t have any leaks until the new one was installed and vents weren’t sealed properly though!

  5. A/C incontinence would be our second favorite! Jenny, no air in Texas would be an emergency!

  6. Of course your AC broke, it’s summer in Texas, and the feel like temps are well over 100 (as well as sometimes actual temps over 100). Those drip pans are super prone to overflowing, and should be checked regularly for issues. Sorry you’re having troubles, hope they can get you permanently fixed quickly.

  7. Where I am, it’s raining so much that flooding is expected. Also a time when a puddle of pee would be better. But not a flood of pee. I don’t even have A/C. But I do have gum boots – they’d work with pee puddles too, I suppose.

  8. I use filters that last 3 months. You have to do it in winter too. AC is a necessity in Texas, as well as in Maryland where I live. I hope you get it fixed fast.

  9. Ugh so sorry. A/C problems suck. One lesson I’ve learned the hard way is that it’s TOTALLY worth the money to have regular maintenance on your A/C. Fall and spring, before it gets hot and before it gets cold. They can almost always catch the failure before it happens and then you aren’t stuck in a 105 degree house in the Texas summer. Getcha a good company that won’t upsell everything. They’re out there. Not easy to find sometimes but they exist.

  10. Boy, the next time I find a pee puddle I will not complain! I too live in the desert SW and it’s been too damn hot for me already. As the mileage on my body increases so does my heat intolerance. When we get a power outage, which usually happens right around dinnertime, I evacuate to a restaurant, fortunately it doesn’t usually last too long. Why can’t we learn about a/c maintenance in the winter when we have plenty of calm to deal with it? Hope your a/c behaves itself for the rest of the summer.

  11. In our previous house we didn’t change the filter for far too long. So when the AC was running at high full time, ice formed on the filter. Then melted. Near electric wires (that were exposed by mistake). We now change our filter monthly.

  12. That happened to me once. It was in the little rental house my son and I fled to live in during the brutal end end of my marriage. My son was 7 years old at the time. The entire ceiling of a room caved in because of the same air conditioner malfunction, pan overflow situation you’ve described. Apparently, water had been pooling in the attic floor for quite a while before everything buckled and gave out. It was a huge, terrifying crashing sound. Water, wet insulation, dry wall, and more came roaring down in the middle of the night. That was the room where my pet bunny’s house was. It didn’t kill her instantly but began her rapid descent to a death which came a few days later despite the vet’s and my best efforts.

    Load after load, I carried hundred of pounds of debris to the curb that night. First thing the next morning, the landlord began the process of getting quotes, filing insurance claim, getting things fixed. He was really good about it, but it took quite a while because of insurance bureaucracy and contractor scheduling.

    One thing I still shiver over: At least it happened late at night. My son was safely tucked into bed asleep in another room. A few hours earlier, he’d been playing in that room. If it’d happened then, the ceiling would’ve collapsed onto him.

  13. I would have used more words than just “Fuck”. But, maybe that’s just me. Good luck with the {hopefully} final repair, and hope it comes quickly.

  14. Oh I envy you people with AC. It’s supposed to be in the mid 30’s at the end of the week and it gets so not airy……………my asthma doesn’t like it, I remember having an attack and it felt like there just no air going in and no oxygen and I actually think I felt how it is to asphyxiate……………yeah, that’ll panic anyone, so was it an asthma attack or a panic attack???

  15. OMG! Why do A/C systems always break down during a heat wave? I had one overflow a clogged drip pan and the drain hose from it, but of course nobody could figure out what was wrong until I had spent thousands of dollars trying to fix it, because it wasn’t working properly.
    It wasn’t until it started flooding our gas furnace that the drip pan sits on top of for the A/C that some technician figured it out. I now check the state of my air filters every 3 months, and replace it if needed, and when I have them service our A/C system in the spring, and the furnace in the fall, I always ask them to check the drip pan and the drain hose.
    Thank goodness you have a fix during this sweltering heat wave.
    Stay cool!

  16. But your air filters did not cause the problem. Your condensation drain pipes are clogged. There should be two: the primary one that goes directly from the A/C to a drain in your house (like a sink drain) and secondary one that goes from the pan (which should be dry unless the primary drain pipe gets clogged up) and drains outside, usually in front of a window so that you can see it and know to clear your primary drain pipe. If your secondary drain pipe gets clogged, too, then your pan will overflow. Or, as happened to me, your pan may rot out over time.

  17. When I saw “puddle” I thought, “stomp in it! Yay!” But no, this isn’t a stoping puddle. Sorry.

    Sorry about your AC.

  18. At least it didn’t rain…inside your attic…copiously. because of a faulty brand new roof… and become a country if mold…. that was a very long summer. Talk about pee being preferable… except my old man cat now thinks carpet is a litter box and, well, the living room carpet will get replaced with wood if prices ever settle down on wood. The basement we’ll have to replace too, but it’s huge so that’ll just have to wait until forever because we also want our cat to live forever.

  19. My AC guy just told me last week that in addition to all that, they are having issues sourcing all the parts they need—it’s taking extra long to install and fix things due to delays in that. My AC is 36 years old, and on its last legs we fear, so we are hoping to make it to the fall.

  20. Here’s the thing: Have your a/c inspected/serviced every year before summer. Change your filter every month during high usage. I change mine four times in the summer. I use cheapie filters and they work just fine. Become pals with the technician. I ask for the same guy every year. I slip him $20 and a nice cold bottle of water. And when something bad happens mid-summer, he will come within that same day. I should know. I live in Palm Springs

    Pee would definitely have been better. I am going to go lift my leg right now! Solidarity! And I keep my thermostat at 84°. And sit in my undies a lot.

  21. OMG this happened to us last year. Except ours was leaking from the ceiling in the middle of our living room and I was like, “Why is it raining on the inside?” and then I realized it was 90 degrees and it wasn’t raining. The overflow valve was blocked and the condensation overflowed in the pan. We were lucky it didn’t cause extensive damage!

  22. Oh lawd!
    We were without ac for 5 days in August 2020.
    We literally just laid around melting. On the third day the repair guy brought us a room ac.
    He is a god.

  23. But then sometimes it is pee, like when your upstairs toilet overflows and runs between the walls into the basement. And causes a big crack in the plaster ceiling in your dining room. Ew.

  24. Noooo! Hopefully you guys get some permanent ac fixes soon.

    I’m vaguely remembering (I think?)
    that you guys also had serious flooding issues related to plumbing before your current issues with the air conditioner?

    Maybe it’s time to do some woo-woo internet searching about what water flooding in your house means? 😂

    I’m not even joking…to increase the positive energy in our space we open the windows, clean the house, little splash of holy water here and there, etc. I’m all about good energy!

    I’m also a reiki fan/weirdo so in case you want it, here is a reiki house purification video.. all you do is play it and be open to the healing energy:

    I mean, it couldn’t hurt right??! 😂

  25. One year ago our HVAC unit (which is in the attic) completely took out the ceiling in the laundry room. I feel your pain.

  26. ‘sometimes pee is preferable’ look at that, another awesome life lesson from Jenny Lawson!

    We actually had an A/C issue a few days ago, but thankfully it was more just ‘it’s way too hot here and the A/C is working overtime and that’s what the weird smell is but it’s totally fine’. I lived in California the first 15 years of my life and I don’t remember *ever* using the A/C there. Now I live in the hottest part of Arizona and if the A/C goes out in the middle of summer it’s a Huge Deal (we have literally stayed at a motel before because we just couldn’t stay in this apartment without A/C in 110+degree heat).

  27. Ok, if it makes you feel better. I’m currently waiting on my hvac guy to come do his usual inspection. I’ve never met him, he always comes while I’m at work. (My neighbors use him, so he just inspects both at the same time). Now I’m awkwardly sitting on my couch, not sure if I have enough time to shower (just got home from work, the shower is downstairs…next to the furnace) or go to the bathroom (I’ve eaten way too much cheese this week…enough said). This is why I don’t talk to people!!!!

  28. I’m in SA too. And with my ADHD I sometimes forget the whole change the filter and check the drain pipe thing. When puddles happen we use a wet dry outside to get the junk out. And a bit of vinegar monthly can help prevent it.

  29. I hadn’t planned on going up to my attic at 3:30 on an insanely hot Texas afternoon, but because I had seen those drip which Frank Irwin described, I figured I’d better check the state of our drip pan. Dry as a bone, thank goodness! Then I hauled in the 17-foot ladder so I could change the 3 ceiling filters. That ladder is my main reason to procrastinate!

    Everything’s clean again and I won’t have to blow off the Nest reminder when it comes up to Remind Me Later.

    Thank you and all your commenters!

  30. Did the condensate pan rust through? My mom was alone at home when the attic a/c unit came through the guest room ceiling after that happened to theirs. Why would they make something whose JOB is to collect moisture out of something that could rust?!

  31. Is there a separate filter? We have a filter that works for the whole house system does heating and air conditioning. Crap I guess I need to learn about my house

  32. We REALLY wished it had been pee….
    When I saw the puddle, I cleaned it up, sniffed it, and made a vet appointment. This was HIGH COVID TIME, so the hazmat-outfitted vet collected the unhappy kitty in the parking lot and whisked her away…brought her back several hundred dollars later with a prescription for antibiotics, and home we went for 10 days of Unhappy Cat. The puddle reappeared the next day accompanied by squishy floor… and we discovered an ice-maker leak which required thousands of workmen, some of whom showed up, walls being removed, lots of stuff donw under the house, counters being raised and then cracked, floors replaced (wrong) plus our living in the driveway for months in our tiny old (new to us) motor home IN WINTER…with our kitty! And now we use ice trays like in the Good Old Days. I’m grateful but hate them with a passion and long for the days when effortless ice was gracefully delivered through my fridge door…sigh…

  33. If you get a choice between Pee Water and Poo Water- uf you have the choice between ANYTHING ELSE and Poo Water, nearly anything else would be the thing to pick.

    My husband and I were renting a place several years ago. And evidently tree roots had grown into the main-water-line/branch-off-to-our-house-water-line junction (?)
    I don’t have any idea how toilets work.
    I know quite a lot about how they fail.

    They make houses shit their pants.

    So, our toilet was slow to just finish the process, toilet had been flushed, and now the water is supposed to go down, and take the deposited microbiome with it. Which it did. Begrudgingly.

    And my husband used a series of words in which I am fluent but that also mean actually nothing when said in the order he put them in, to tell me what was up with the plumbing.

    He told me to not tell the plumber that our toilet *begrudgingly* flushed, and under no circumstances was I to use the phrase Poo Water. Its as if we hadn’t known each other since we were 18, or he completely forgot who I am, because calling a toilet’s behavior begrudging is goddam brilliant and I would make up lies if needed to justify the use of the phrase Poo Water, because I love saying things that make me ugly-laugh at my own sentence.

    We went to the basement and here’s the deal.
    When a house has pants for its Poo Pipes, made from Home Depot esque plastic wrap and a metric ton of duct tape, its because those Poo Pipes in the basement ceiling had failed at least once before. And the landlord knew it would happen again. So he made watertight plastic and duct tape pants for the poo pipes. So that when the house shit its pants, they were water-tight.

    Until my husband took his leatherman knife tool out, and I DID heroically bellow, all slo-mo and deep “NOOOOOOOO! The Poo Pipe Pants are full of water! Poo Water” as he nicked the plastic. And explained why it could not be Poo Water spraying all the fuck over our basement.

    So, I memorized my husband’s word-salad explanation if how plumbing works, so I could explain pipes. To the Plumber. I recited my lines and then explained that I didn’t actually understand English-Engineet-Not-A-Plumber Creole. And said the begrudging flush and the poo pipe pants and my husband nicked a hole in the water tight house pants.

    And by the time I asked him the forbidden “Is this Poo Water?” the plumber and I were standing on the bottom step out if the blast radius laughing like mad hyenas on Molly, because IT WAS POO WATER!

    And did either of us think for an instant when we got out of bed that morning that we’d discuss how to “evade the spray” by remaining x feet from the nick in the shitted house pants, x feet being the reach of the spray, or, the Blast Radius, as he aprovingly agreed to call it.

    Poo Water.
    Never pick it.
    For fuck’s sake, never nick it either!

  34. Our A/C went out last summer on Jun 5 as temps climbed toward 100. We couldn’t even get a tech out to look at it until Jun 15, by which point the temps were hitting 114°. We bought a room a/c to keep the bedroom tolerable, but the heavy use made it burn out on July 3 — and the supply chain problems meant it was July 7 before the new unit was finally installed. Those last few days were horrible. I hope y’all have a better/quicker result

  35. Our AC went out one August. We were living in an upstairs uninsulated apartment in south Florida. All my candles melted. I expected the cats to die–they spent three days sprawled in the empty porcelain bathtub, panting. We fled the state within the year.

  36. I weirdly get this, my cat, Sir Ernest Shackleton is very angry about a stray cat outside and he is super angry about it so he is marking his territory inside my house. He’s not allowed outside but he has a catio to enjoy the fresh air. His brothers, George Washington and Harold Houdin don’t do this. I am jealous because I want central air conditioning so badly. It’s too darned hot to cook in my kitchen.

  37. I am so sorry this happened to you and in Texas………. Have to say laughed so hard at poor Sarah and her Poo Water ‘problem’!!

  38. I live in an apartment and they changed my A/C filter yesterday! I know that doesn’t help homeowners, but prompt, free maintenance is the best thing about being an apartment dweller.
    Neighbors are a whole ‘nother story but, if you stay put like I tend to do, they’ll move out eventually.

  39. Hah! I wish I had A/C. I have some regular fans, a couple of large water cooled fans, and a couple of small portable water cooled fans. My house was built in 1946 and very few people in my neighborhood, including me, have the money to install “real” A/C. Yesterday, the temperature in my bedroom was 90° when I went to bed.

    Hopefully this will make you feel better, Jenny.❤️

  40. That has happened to us, too. We ended up using a company that comes to our house on a regular basis, to change filters, run the clean cycle on the dishwasher, and wash machines. They make sure the toilets are working properly, and A/C unit is functioning properly. Basically all the stuff an owner should be doing, but that we can’t seem to get it together to actually do. Worth every penny! With these triple digits, ain’t no way any sane person can handle no A/C.

  41. “sk888888
    June 14, 2022 at 12:08 pm
    I would have used more words than just “Fuck”. But, maybe that’s just me. Good luck with the {hopefully} final repair, and hope it comes quickly.”

    I believe that is pronounced


    If you finish saying that in less that 2 minutes you are pronouncing it wrong.

  42. I can relate…to the AC and pee wishes. My brand new AC unit broke for the 3rd time this month. AC has been out for 3 weeks with a few triple-digit days. Portable ACs brought in to cool bedrooms at night blew the circuit breaker. The elusive part that will fix the AC will not arrive until mid-July. So I’m drinking and cursing almost daily!

  43. I say cry and stamp your feet and the problem might go away. And don’t forget that malls, libraries and restaurants have ac. Hang in there

  44. Boy, can I relate to this post. AC guy is up there swapping out units as we speak. (Thank heavens there are 2 units and the downstairs one is working.) (Also thank heavens he quit setting off the smoke alarms.)

  45. Aw hell, this happens to me ever’ year or two in my Austin house. The problem is that the outflow pipe gets full of algae, and you just need someone (AC contractor or whoever) to come out and blow down the pipe with canned air. It’s a nuisance, but nothing more’n that.

  46. This is a small point in favor of apartment living. Our a/c went out a few weeks ago. The entire apartment immediately went from comfortable to “Jesus Christ! I’m sweating all over my chair!!” And, of course, it happened on a Friday night because what fun would it be without the office being closed and all the maintenance people being at home!

    So, I called the office and left a message. When the guy called back and I told him how hot it was, he said “that’s not an emergency yet. (YET???). But I’ll bring you a box fan.

    That’s when I had to play the old lady card. I LOVE the old lady card!! I said, “Okay, but I’m an elderly lady. I hope I don’t die in the heat.” (I’m only 67…not all that “elderly,” but the maintenance guy is in his 20s so, to him, I’m ancient.) He was there in 20 minutes and fixed my a/c.

    I don’t play that card often. I don’t want to overuse it. But, it’s one of my favorite things about getting “old.”

  47. Incontinence caused by air conditioning would be our second choice. Jenny, the lack of air in Texas would constitute an emergency situation!

    @snow rider

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