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Projects continue, next up A/C

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The A/C died last month and of course it was during the hottest week. The cause? Age and bad advice.

The outside compressor is less than 10 years old, but it turns out the condenser coil inside the house was probably 30 years old and should have been replaced long ago. It was too small for the newer A/C unit so it was freezing up and thus burned out the compressor. The previous contractor that installed the new unit should have replaced the coil but didn’t and that likely caused the system to fail.

Quotes came in from Albuquerque’s finest HVAC companies estimating repairs at $2,500 just to replace the compressor outside and a new A/C system shooting past $7,000. Not one of them mentioned the problem with the coil inside and only one gave us a quote replacing the 30 year old coil.

Thankfully, we got a referral from Bivens House friend Mike Noonan. Mike has just completed a major redo of his entire home and spoke highly of Mario Loprinzi from Axiom Home Services.

Mario came over and did what no other cooling company did. He wrote down the serial number to see if the A/C was under warranty. Two other companies came out, one charged $89 and the other $149,  and both said the warranty was only 5 years and it had expired long ago. Mario instead called the manufacturer and found it had a 10 year warranty and yes, it was still under warranty.

Mario spent two long days replacing the coil and compressor and now we have A/C again. With a correctly sized coil, the unit will use less power thus saving money. Final cost was a third of what the other companies quoted for a new system. With the new coil and compressor, truth is we have essentially a brand new system.

Mario was great. He told us we shouldn’t have to see him for 20 years. Mario you don’t have to wait 20 years to come back to Bivens House. You and your family are welcome anytime.

We also signed up for PNM’s Power Saver program. PNM comes to your home and installs a radio controlled shut off switch on the outside A/C switch. PNM can then shut down the A/C during peak energy consumption. They won’t shut power off during the holiday’s and weekends and at most will shut off power for no more than 4 hours in one day. For most folks, they are at work so they won’t even know the A/C has been turned off.

PNM pays you $25 at sign-up that you get at the end of the first year and then you get a credit of $25 each year on your bill (so $50 in year one). While $25 might not seem much, during the summer that is two months of gas service. This is only for refrigerated A/C systems, evaporative coolers don’t qualify.

Mario Loprinzi Axiom Home Services. 505-792-9742

Visit PNM Power Saver Program

Guests Galore

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A number of friends have stayed at Bivens House over the last three months. Each has been bowled over with the comfort and design of this modern American icon. From the built in sound system and the incredible furnishings to the spectacular mountain views, each guest has found a new favorite in this home.

For one young guest, it was the rotary dial phones she had only heard about on TV. For another, it was the curved sectional in the living room.

We are glad they got a chance to experience Bivens House. We hope you will too.


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photo by Mike Noonan

While summer isn’t quite here, evenings are already wonderful at Bivens House.

A couple of nights ago we sat outside and watched the International Space Station and Shuttle fly directly overhead. We can can hear coyotes most every night.

Mike Noonan stopped by and took this picture last week. The white specs, that isn’t dust on the lens, those are stars in the night sky.

Electrical updates

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Work continues at the Bivens House. The first major project is the update of the electrical service. The original breaker box was just that, original. It was a Federal Pacific Electric Stab-Lok. You can just call it sparky. FPE’s are famous for catching on fire and the breakers not actually tripping.

Remarkably, for a house this size, it only had a 100 amp service coming in from the pole and a 150 amp breaker box. So work began last week to replace the little guy.

A new 200 amp service is being pulled from the pole. We will then replace the interior box with a Square D 150 Amp breaker box that will be wired as a sub-panel.

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And yes, if you look closely you can see an unburied wire as it runs to the barn. That is being fixed too.

Photo Gallery from February 2010

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People have been asking for pictures so here you go. These were taken before any work started. So it gives you an idea of where we started.

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James Rackelin from Sandia Safe and Lock

We had Sandia Safe and Lock come over and change all our locks at Bivens house. These folks were awesome. They were on time, kept the place clean, very reasonably priced, and fast.

Sandia Safe and Lock on South Washington and Silver gets our highest recommendation. They don’t have a website, but you can find them on City Search or email them at [email protected].


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Mike Welding

As many know, we had a small problem with the appraiser. Actually it was a giant cluster you know what. One of the requirements the appraier imposed was the basement windows should have an egress.

So he made us cut off the bars before he would sign off on the appraisal. Never mind the fact the basement windows are over 5ft from the ground inside the basement; or the fact the basement isn’t considered living space; nor can it be used as a bedroom; and oh by the way, there is an automatic fire suppresion sprinkler through out the entire house including the basement.

So Michael came over the day before the closing and cut the bars off. Now of course we had a security problem, no bars on the windows. So the next week, Michael reattached the bars for us. I really like this photo. Taking welding pictures can be hit or miss. This one came out pretty nice.

Spring gardening

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In Michigan, the last frost is in May. In New Mexico, you start working on gardening projects in March. Our first project is redoing the planter box by the car port. An automatic drip system was installed. The box was then lined and new soil was added. Two days later, it snowed.

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Let it snow

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While it was 61 and sunny in Michigan, Albuquerque got hit with a typical mid-March snow storm. Over two inches of snow fell.

By the next day, it was gone.

We closed on the house

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Yeah! We finally closed. It was touch and go there. Between the mortgage company, title company, and crappy apprasier I didn’t know who to kill first. We didn’t get numbers until 6p the night before closing.

But Quicken Loans pulled it out and we are in. Big tip of the hat to Brian Holland for all his hard work.

The Bivens left the house in better shape than when we saw it in December. Now there is class and grace for you.

We have been doing lots of inspections and making to-do lists. Getting ready for the Comcast install on Friday. Also working on installing an attic stair because it is too hard to get up there right now.

It snowed last night. East Mountain schools were closed for the day and Albuquerque Schools were on a two-hour delay. I went out at noon to take a picture of this calamitous snowfall, but it was all melted.