81. Ramie Is Going Back to the Rental House!

Wednesday 5/25 thru Sunday 5/29- The house that we rented for the first 9 months that we lived in Costa Rica is owned by a woman named Karen. We first got in contact with her through Loren, who was so helpful in getting the rental situation set up. We befriended Karen and her new husband Dennis when they visited Costa Rica last August and we have been staying in contact with them ever since. She has been looking for a new renter since we moved out but she is particular with who is going to be staying at her house and doesn't want to rent to just anyone. We don’t blame her!! I would be particular about someone living in my house too!! She has contacted Ramie to ask him to meet with a new renter who Geiner had found, to go through the house and explain how things work. Ramie had no problems with this and was prepared to go up to the house prior to meeting with the new renter to get it all ready. The house has sat empty and closed up since we have moved out a little over 2 months ago and it needed a good cleaning and, as Ramie found out, some maintenance.

Hello everyone, it's the Braun here again. Dana was nice enough to let me write another post. As she mentioned, the house needed some attention, which I was not expecting. Before we left Karen's house (as renters) I laid up the house so that everything would be ready the next time someone was ready to stay here. Some of the things I did back in March included shutting off all the breakers, pulling the water filter, and disconnecting the propane tank. I thought it would be best to go up to the house Wednesday morning to get it ready for the new renter and if anything was broken or needed repair then it would give me time to do so. Well let’s just say it's amazing how things change when not in daily use, and not for the better!

Geiner had already had a cleaning crew go to the house and give it a good cleaning, prior to my visit. He called and mentioned that the gas dryer wasn't working for the ladies when they went to dry the bedding. Well of course not, the propane was disconnected! That's an easy fix, so that was going to be my first task. I connected the tank and proceeded into the house. The easiest item to purge the air out of the lines would be the stove. Once all the burners were lit and I knew gas was fully in the line I went to the dryer and turned it on. I quickly discovered that it would not ignite. I have some background in repairing washers and dryers, so I proceeded to take it apart. I determined it was an issue with the gas valve. Well, this isn't off to a good start! I then continued with getting everything else going. I started the fridge and freezer to get that cold, purged the water lines of stagnant water and then installed the water filter again. All was going well until I checked the lights and fans to make sure they worked properly. Of course, here I would find another problem: some of the ceiling lights were flickering. No matter how I controlled the dimmer I could not get them to stop. These were a set of lights that I had to replace when we first moved in and trying to find a quality suitable replacement seemed to be impossible. While we were living there (and when we left) the lights that I had installed worked fine, but now they seemed to have a problem. Since the lights technically still worked the best option would be to remove the dimmer and install a non-dimming light switch. The last item to check was the internet, and I discovered that I couldn't connect to it. That isn't right!! Karen mentioned that she was still paying for the internet, but I figured that I would double check with her first.

I had to call Karen to report all of the bad news and she gave me the go ahead to get everything repaired. She also confirmed the internet was paid for so it should still be working. I reached out to my dear friend Loren and got in contact with a dryer repair person that he knew to help me with one of the problems. I have no idea where to purchase the parts from here so this was the best option and more than likely the fastest, even though I probably would have been able to troubleshoot and fix the problem if I could find the parts. The repair man would be out tomorrow. Ok great! I made a list of small items I would need to pick up and would bring with me the next day when I had to meet the repair man. I then contacted the internet company. After some discussion and diagnosing they determined the problem was on their end and they would have to send some techs out, but couldn't tell me what day or time they would be here.

Thursday 5/26- Around noon the dryer repair man showed up, right on time (that’s odd and almost never happens, Tico time you know). He diagnosed the issue and determined that it was in fact the gas valve however he didn't have the parts on his truck. He could have it in 2 days and would return then to finish the job. He left and I proceeded to install the new light switch which fixed the issue with the flickering lights. That was all for today, but I know I’ll be back.

Friday 5/27- This morning I was contacted by the internet techs telling me that they couldn't get to the house. Well thanks for contacting me ahead of time to meet you, like I requested! 🙄 Of course they couldn't get in! It's a secure gate and they didn't have the code to get into the community. I got to the gate as fast as I could and brought the techs to the house. After some testing they determined the fiber optic cable was broken and needed to find out where the break was.

While waiting for the internet company, Chris, the new renter, contacted me and wanted to know if we could do a walk-through of the house. Perfect timing since I was there just twiddling my thumbs. Chris is building his own home just a few minutes drive from Karen's house and made it here very quickly after we had spoken. I showed Chris all the workings of the house, and where things like the propane tank, water heater, and water filter were located. Once we were finished, I handed him the keys and our former little rental house was now his temporary home. A few hours went by and the internet company found the break, got it repaired and went back to the house to test it all. I was now able to connect and it seemed to be working so I signed off and headed back home.

Saturday 5/28- Morning came around and I received a frantic phone call from Chris. He turned on the shower and water was spraying out from the shower head and all over the bathroom. He also discovered that the lock isn’t working and can't lock the door. All of his belongings had already been moved in, but he had to leave and was worried about leaving it unlocked. He did tell me that even though he’d be gone that I could go to the house anyway to see what I could do to fix the problems.

None of this makes any sense!!! Once I arrived, I checked the shower head first. I assume what happened here was that the cleaning ladies took off the head to clean it and to remove hard water deposits and they didn't screw it all the way back on. I like easy fixes! Next was the door lock. Well crap, the lock doesn't work! WTH. I tested the lock and sure enough the original key didn’t work, nor did the copies that we recently had made. Hmmm?!? I took the lock apart and discovered that it was so worn out that it needed to be replaced. I did notice a few times prior to this that the key didn’t turn very well, but now it just completely failed.  The timing of this was just epic!

Time to get on the phone with Karen and break the bad news that I had to spend more money. I knew what to expect for replacements in town and they are not good quality like back in the US. I was able to find a Yale brand door handle which is pretty good quality and went back up to the house to install it. Shortly after I arrived, the dryer repairman showed up with the parts as well.  He quickly swapped out the gas valve and tested it. Fire in the hole!!! 

Excellent, I paid the man $60 for his time and parts! After he left I finished replacing the door handle and phoned Chris to meet up with him to give him the new key.

Saturday night around 9pm Chris called me again. If you know us well you probably know that we are in bed and asleep by this time. Chris went on about the internet is not working and he really had to have it working by Monday. I know a lot of people work remotely from Costa Rica, so I get it. There are occasional planned outages here so I assumed this may have been one of those. Since it was Saturday night, I obviously couldn’t get any answers now, but I’d work on it when the internet company was open again.

Sunday morning I messaged Chris to see if the internet was working again. He said it wasn't, so I reported the problem to the company once again and was told it would be a week before a tech could come out. I informed them that the techs were just there yesterday and tried to fix it, and that I needed them back now. Of course, silence on their end. I decided it was best to go up to the house to check myself what was going on. Lo and behold the techs were at the end of the road!! I stopped and talked to them and they told me they would be back later in the day to look at my issue, they had to fix another issue first. Surprisingly, they actually did come back later in the day but this time Chris was at the house so I didn't have to go meet with them. The techs had a faulty termination of the adapter onto the fiber and had to replace it and the internet was back up and working. WHEW!! Crisis averted and now everything should be good to go!

Sadly though, just 2 days later Chris called to tell me that that the door handle was once again broken.

How?!?!? It was brand new (and really, what was this guy doing to the door handles to make them break!?!) I grabbed my tools and went back up to Karen's house and sure enough it wouldn’t stay locked. I took it apart and noticed a small plastic piece that was broken. Of course it was- UGH!!!! The lock functions as it should while you have it in your hand, but once you mount it in the door, no matter what I did I could always get it to fail. I guess that it was just a cheap lock. And here I thought Yale were good quality. I guess not! I know you may be saying just return it under the warranty. If this was the US I would in a heartbeat. Trying to return the lock here would be a waste of time.  Since it functioned normally in my hands, the hardware store would say it works and send me on my way. The only option left was to purchase another new one. Karen had an electronic deadbolt that broke many years ago and hadn’t been used, but was still installed on the door, there might be another option here. I called Karen once again to discuss our options. Since the door handle functions (just doesn't lock) she gave me permission to remove the old electronic lock and install a normal deadbolt, now you would just have to lock the deadbolt to lock the door, and only use the handle to open and close the door, but not to lock it. Off I went to the hardware store once again, and then back up the mountain one more time to install it.

When Karen originally called me to ask me if I wanted to get the house ready and show it to Chris, she asked about how much time I think it would take. I told her just a couple hours, little did I know it would be about 7 trips up and down the mountain and closer to 8 hours of my time. No worries though, I have all the time in the world. 😉

The tropical jungle environment is very harsh on things here. Humidity, salt air, and heat can do damage quickly when things are not in daily use. I can only assume that was the issue with almost everything I had to fix at Karen's house. Hopefully now with someone living here and using everything regularly, things will continue to go smoothly like it did when we lived there. 

Pura Vida


  1. Leaving homes and all they entail for long periods of time is always a problem. We go to Mexico for three months and when we return there is usually something that has to be repaired or given a little TLC. I can only imagine what the harsh conditions of the tropics would do. This is something else you will have to learn to live with, you have shown that it will not be a major problem for you or one that you cannot handle! Keep up the good work!

    1. Thankfully, living in our own house fulltime now I can see what needs attention before it gets to bad. I cant imagine what it would look like if we left for months. I also keep an eye on my neighbors house, since its only a vacation home for them. It needs attention a couple times a month just to make sure all is good. I dont mind at all it helps keep my busy! Thanks for the words of encouragement!


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