Last week the pump on my swamp cooler went out. The fan was blowing, but it wasn't cooling. In a moment of financial panic, I called a heating and plumbing company to come out the next day to check it out.
In the interim, I had the bright idea of getting on the roof and checking things out. Turns out, swapping out the pump was not only doable, but it was easy and cheap. It took me less than five minutes to get back up and running again.
But I didn't cancel the plumber. I figured, if nothing else, I could get them to replace the pads and clean it out, maybe even take a look at my drains (more on that in a second).
The guy comes out. I explain that I fixed the pump, that I'm looking for a cleaning and service type deal. The guy gives me his spiel. The company's been in business since Cortes conquered the Aztecs. When the Romans invented indoor plumbing, this is the kind of company they had in mind. They never have creeping prices. They do everything by the book.
And they'd clean my swamp cooler and change out the pads for the paltry sum of...
Five hundred dollars?
It was a little more than $500, but the sum blew me away. All I could think was, Damn, how much would they have charged me for the pump? My guess? Probably about ten times the $30 I paid at Home Depot.
Now this concerns me for a number of reasons. I have a problem with my drains. Not sure what it is, exactly --roots in the sewer, a broken pipe, a persistent clog-- but I know two things: To fix it, I'm going to need a plumber and possibly a second job.
If changing out the pads on a swamp cooler runs $500, then how much are they going to ask to repair my sewer line? A year's salary?
Stay tuned, faithful readers. Faced with the option of living in a house with a broken sewer line, going further into debt to fix a house worth less than what I owe, or foreclosing on the fucking thing.....I might just go with the least bad option: Door #3.