We could wait this out and replace the unit when it dies, but then again, the technician pointed out that winter is coming upon us and we don't want to take the chance of this dying in the midst of winter and us having to go w/o heat for days.
That made sense, especially with a child in the house. We could probably survive the winter w/o central heat because we do have a portable heater and we do like it cold but I'm sure that the combination of a portable heater + an energetic toddler is an accident waiting to happen.
So I've set up appointments with a few AC companies to get a quote on the replacement. The first companies drops by today and after he gave me his quote, I asked for the brand of the equipment.
salestech: We carry and sell different brands but the one I quoted for you is Payne.
me: Pain ? As in it's going to be a lot of pain to pay for it ?
salestech: *blink blink* huh ? (looks at me like I'm so silly) Payne. You spell it like P-A-Y-N-E. Carrier makes it, same quality, but it's cheaper because you're not paying for marketing & branding.
My pitiful attempt at humor failed and my hopes & dreams (drama!) were dashed when I saw the contract. It wasn't the 10k I feared but this was still a very Payne-ful 6.5k.
Oh well. This is only the first quote. Hope to do better w/ the others.