A/C Fiasco and Getting Rid of the Mouse…

I left off last time having enjoyed an awesome week with Steven & Linda (YES – this is how long ago this post was started!) Play time was over and getting some chores/projects was called for.  

One of the larger projects Bill was wanting to get done, especially with hot and humid NJ summer temps right around the corner, was replacing our dead living room air conditioner.  He got on the phone with PPL, explained what we needed.  The guy, Ryan, who answered the call seemed to know what he was talking about, confirmed that yes, we’d get free shipping, and placed the order.  A Dometic Brisk II unit was on the way. 

Notice above I said SEEMED like he knew.  Fast forward a few days and our very large box arrives via UPS.  Bill used the tractor to bring it over to our site.  

The next order of business was how to get the very heavy box up on the roof.  Bill built a wood ramp using wood pieces he got from Bob, our boss.  His plan was to strap and rope the box and slide it up the ramp, onto the roof.  I was, not surprisingly, very nervous about him doing it himself.  The box was very heavy.  When I expressed my concern, he asked Bob for help, which made me feel a lot better.  

So – the box went up fairly smoothly and Bill started opening the box and then disconnecting the old unit.  He quickly realized there wasn’t any instructions in the box.  He wasn’t initially concerned because it was supposed to be an exact unit – easy switch one out for the other.  Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way. 

Apparently, Dometic isn’t making our exact unit anymore – and yes – our unit is only 3 1/2 years old!  The unit they sent is a “direct replacement” but not, as Bill was told, an easy switch one for the other.   I was right there when Bill placed the order and the term he used was “exact replacement plug and play” to which Ryan replied “yes Sir”.  Ryan (possibly unknowingly but this is his job to know this stuff right?) After numerous calls with PPL and Dometic, it was determined that we needed another part, a control box, which would allow Bill to properly hook up the new unit.  All that for an additional $110!  The control box was needed because the Brisk II unit is normally installed with a central return system.  Also of note: the mounting positions have also changed so Bill is going to have to drill new holes in our roof!  Not very happy about that!  Looking on the bright side (I’m always on the lookout for the positive spin) – Bill doesn’t have to repackage the unit back into its box and send it back – instead Dometic is shipping the part to PPL and PPL will be shipping it to us ASAP.   When asked why can’t Dometic can’t ship to us directly – we were told “We (Dometic) aren’t customer direct” – whatever.  

Here is a before and after pics of the area that needed to have the excess sealant removed so the new gasket would seal properly. 

Look at the difference in how the new unit is built. Much more insulation and plastic. Should make the unit more efficient and quieter. 

While waiting for the part to arrive, another issue came up – isn’t it always something?  We were watching some TV – our latest is binge watching Breaking Bad – and we notice Callie on high-alert.  We initially didn’t see anything – when she acts that way we generally will see a moth or other flying bug buzzing around – but this time we didn’t, so we were like “what’s up with her?”  Then, very faintly we hear a strange scratching noise – “What could THAT be?”  It was coming from the bedroom.  When Bill turned down the TV, we could hear it louder.   I go into the bedroom and it becomes louder and I realize the scratching is in the CEILING!  I am not kidding!  A MOUSE!  IN THE CEILING!  

You may remember, we had mice once before, in Alaska.  They got in the basement and one got into a kitchen drawer and into the main cabin once – Callie chased it all over with it screeching – in the middle of the night – but some well placed traps took care of the uninvited guests quickly.  

Well swell!  How do we get it out of the ceiling?  I assumed it was in the vent – but Bill didn’t agree.  He thought it was in the ceiling itself – there are small cut-outs for wires in the otherwise solid laminated ceiling/roof.  Either way – the little f@&$er wasn’t wanted!  We pounded on the ceiling and that seemed to chase it off for a little while, but it came back.  Great!

I sent out an SOS on Dreamers FB page and Heartland Owners forum, asking the experts for their tried and true remedies for mice and the response was overwhelming!  Consistently the #1 suggestion is using peppermint as one of the best ways to not only rid your rig of mice but also keep them out!  Also, traps with peanut butter, ultrasonic plug-ins and even poisons were suggested. 

 I personally do not want to use the poisons – and here’s why:  first, I can imagine it being pretty painful.  I don’t want them to suffer – just leave, and sometimes that means die but I’d prefer that to be quick.  Also I don’t want them to die inside a wall or part of the basement where we can’t get to it and have it stink – gross!  Also, if one dies inside and Callie gets it – well – I don’t even want to think about that!  

When we had them in AK, Bill was sensitive to my not wanting them to suffer (he doesn’t want that either but he isn’t as worried about it as me) and bought these traps that are quick and can’t miss.  Another benefit is you don’t actually see the mouse – it goes in the little house looking thing and stays in and it just gets emptied – don’t have to look at it or touch it.   

Sorry if any of that was TMI, but based on the responses we got from friends and strangers alike, we are not the first to deal with this.  

So, peppermint oil is on our purchase list and I will be putting it all over.  

In the meantime, Bill came up with the idea to put the a/c fan on to hopefully make it leave and that seems to have done the trick, although probably temporarily.  He also caught one in that same drawer and set up traps in the basement.  I’m seriously hoping the peppermint will do the job and the death traps can be packed away permanently!  

It’s been awhile!  Whew! 

We have not heard anything from mice since Bill caught the one!  We still have traps set where we’ve seen poop but no more for now!  Awesome! 

Unfortunately the A/C debacle isn’t going as smoothly!  Here’s the update on that:

The control board arrived and Bill hooked it up.  He turned it on and it worked!  Don’t get too excited though b/c it isn’t over yet!  Bill still wasn’t “feeing it” – it just didn’t seem right.  The control board had no official place to live and would have to be put into the space between A/C unit and ceiling – in the return plenum – which Bill felt would seriously impede air flow.  

So – more phone calls!  The new mission was to determine how this is supposed to be installed (no – we did not receive ANY instructions with anything!) This time he called Heartland, wanting to know how exactly they suggest he attach the unit to the roof.   As I mentioned above, the new unit isn’t the same size as the old one and none of the attachment points lined up.  He also wanted to ask about the control board, since that didn’t seem right either.  After hanging up with them, he was more convinced than ever he was sold the wrong unit.  UGH!

Next call was to Dometic.  The first person he talked to said he had the correct A/C.  After insisting on speaking to a manager, waiting for a call back (which didn’t take as long as initially predicted – a nice surprise), he FINALLY got them to tell us what Bill KNEW – we had the wrong unit!  OMG!  Evidently some Landmarks and Newmar builds had roof mounted fully ducted systems. This is evidently pretty uncommon as Dometic had not updated their internal cross reference compatibility to reflect the proper unit, let alone their vendors.   It was also mentioned that a piece of foam could be removed on the Brisk II unit that would allow the control box to be installed under the cover and not in the return plenum. Wow, that would be great information for the instructions.   However he learned that the Brisk II unit had 30 less CFMs of air flow and would not be a recommended replacement for our old unit. WOW!  Evidently what we neede was a Dometic NXT!  Of course that unit is almost $300 more. 

So – back on the phone with PPL.  Waiting for another manager.   Telling them what Dometic said, gave them the correct part number – then we hear “That’s not what our list shows” but after a lengthy chat about what the exact issue is – Bill finally heard “ok – I understand”.  Next issue is what happens next?  We have the wrong unit (up on our roof along side of the broken unit) and an unneeded control board.  AND – the cherry on top: it isn’t in stock!  Are you kidding me?  

So – PPL has to get it from Dometic – no idea how long that will take – then they will forward it to us.  Since we already disposed of the HUGE box the wrong one came in, Bill will pack the wrong one in the new box, with the control panel, and PPL will send UPS or FedEx back to get it.   Can’t make this up!  

So now we have a hole in our roof and no way to properly attach the A/C and we know that it will rain before the new unit arrives. Bill cut a small piece of plywood and used Dicor to seal it to the roof. He placed the A/C on top of the plywood to create a good seal. He also placed a gob over the bolt holes ( going to be fun digging that out later). 

Ok – final chapter on the A/C saga:

The correct unit finally arrived!  We had the guys on the truck bring it into the rec room behind the store.  Bill borrowed Bob’s hand truck to bring it over to our site later that day.  Weather was not cooperative for several days, there was also work days in the mix, and we were spending time with friends, so this was not taken care of immediately.  This past Saturday was THE day!  The weather was partly sunny and warm and we hadn’t made other plans.  

Bill used the ramp he had built, as well as help from Joe, to get the new one up on the roof and get the wrong one, which needed to be packed up for return shipping, down.  He started by calling Dometic, so they could email him instructions, because as I mentioned above, they do not send any in the package.  I guess they expect it to be intuitive, and to be fair, if Bill had received the correct one the first time, he may have been able to more easily figure it out, but WEEKS have gone by!  At this point, actually at any point, having instructions before starting was a good idea.  After the second phone call, the email arrived (don’t have a clue why the guy who answered the first call didn’t send it like he said he would), and Bill got to work. 

The foam had to be removed from the evaporator section to gain access to the control box. No mention how to do this in the instructions!  This is so you can set the dip switches to the proper setting for set up. 

Once all the wires, and there were a lot of them, were hooked up, he came in and turned it on, wanting to make sure it worked before attaching it to the roof.   Thank goodness – it came on!  First thing we both noticed – it is so quiet!  The older one was much louder!  Bonus!  I have to admit here, I was tempted to ask Bill to switch it with our bedroom one, as it is the noisy type, but I quickly put a lid on that – he’s been through enough with this whole situation!  

Once he was assured it was properly wired and working correctly, he needed to permanently attach it to the roof.  He had been warned that only 3 of the 4 holes would line up, and that’s exactly how it is.  The next glitch came when he realized the bolts he had weren’t long enough for the new unit, and new bolts weren’t provided (just lag screws). So a quick trip to Lowes solved that, and the rest of the install went smoothly.  The unit is only attached with the 3 bolts, and some Dicor sealant over the bolt hole. He may go back and drill a hole through the frame to attach the 4th bolt in the future.  The Dometic person that seemed to know what they were talking about said it was not necessary if the gasket compressed evenly (which it did). He measured the space between the roof and the bottom of the frame on the 4 corners. 

So – we now have 2 working A/C’s!  How awesome is that?  

The final step to this crazy story is Bill had to pack up the wrong unit in the box so FedEx can come take it away!  Oh – and the unneeded control box!  We still had that box since it was much smaller.   

It’s a lot more streamline than the old one. 

Bill removed some parts from the old A/C as it is identical to our bedroom A/C. We now will have a spare control board and capacitors to carry with us. He will put the shroud and blower motor in our storage container (both to big to lug around).

We hate to think what would have happened if this was a warranty issue. Or if we paid to have it fixed. They would have received the same bad information as we did. Pretty sure they would have gone the easy route and installed the Brisk II unit with the control box in the return plenum and used lag screws to attach it to the roof. This would have resulted in poor airflow and 4 hopefully properly patched holes. RV techs are paid using a flat rate and the time paid on the job is one hour. Confirmed by an RV tech  Bill spoke to working at the campground on another rig. He had over 30 years experience and knew nothing about the situation Bill ran into. 

So – what should you take away from this long, drawn out situation? Do your research – when something doesn’t feel right or you are hesitating for any reason, trust your instincts – you may be right!  Believe me when I tell you – I am grateful every single day for my husband, who is mechanically inclined and understands these issues.  If he doesn’t KNOW – he will research until he does.  

If typing all this out helps even just one person, it was worth every keystroke.  

0 thoughts on “A/C Fiasco and Getting Rid of the Mouse…

  1. Very educational, thanks for the write up. I am in the process of replacing a control board on one of my A/C’s right now. I hope all goes smoothly.

  2. Wow!! You guys had quite a time of it! Peppermint oil to deter mice. I’ve never heard of that but if it works, it will be an easy solution. You would think that having a cat on board would be an even bigger deterrent.

    Kelly, I love your posts. Even when there’s a problem, you take it all in stride. Of course, knowing that Bill is probably going to be able fix most anything helps to make that attitude more positive. ☺️

    1. Thanks Gladys! I always do my best to try and find the upside of any situation – and yes – knowing Bill can handle just about anything helps that a lot when it comes to things breaking! It works in life in general though – most of the time things can be worse! I do have my “moments” but I try to not let those moments last too long.

      I had never hear of peppermint oil either, but I’m all about being preventative when possible! I always thought the cat smell in the rig would deter as well, when we lived in our houses, we only once had mice – and only in the garage attic, while our neighbors would get them every year – I always told them “get a cat!”

  3. Kelly, years ago I taught first grade in a very old building prone to mice when it was sugarcane cutting season in the fall in south Louisiana. We would buy peppermint oil and sprinkle drops of it on cotton balls and placed them around our classrooms. Not only did it keep mice away but our classrooms smelled great! I do remember the small bottles of peppermint oil being costly. I hadn’t thought about that in years, but it always seem to work for us.

  4. Holy crap!! Well first of all Bill is the man. Second ..did I mention Bill is the man. 🙂 So glad he got it all worked out and before the worst of the summer heat started. I echo the other comments…you are a lucky gal my friend.

    1. Literally he got it all done with 4 days to spare! A bit too close for my comfort! And – believe me – I’m am thankful every day for my personal handyman! 😁

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