This past year, the summer weather arrived much earlier than usual, and without much warning. We seemed to go straight from winter to summer. There was still snow on the ground when the sun came out, the sky turned blue, and the temperature shot up into the eighties. I was totally unprepared but eager to enjoy the warm weather. Since our summers are typically quite short here, I always want to get the most out of the swimming pool and patio. I rushed to haul out the patio furniture, clean the barbecue grill and get the pool open. When I lowered the thermostat and started up the air conditioner, I noticed an odd grinding sound. The cool air also smelled a bit musty. I should have immediately called a local HVAC contractor for service. Because I was so busy and reluctant to sacrifice several hours to babysitting a repairman, I held off. I also didn’t want to spend the money on a repair, and hoped the air conditioner would work out its own problems. Unfortunately, the air conditioner failed to fix itself, and the issues worsened. The system began putting out less cool air, which led to lower thermostat settings and higher electric bills. The house felt overheated and clammy, and I started worrying about mold growth. When I finally called to schedule a repair, the local contractors were booked for several weeks. By the time a technician arrived and inspected the air conditioner, it was in bad shape. Several parts needed to be replaced, and the service was extremely expensive.