PSI: Widow struggles to get air conditioning back on

GASTONIA, NC (WBTV) - There's a good chance you could see a little bit of your mom in Ruth Waters. She's always been guided by an old-fashioned sensibility.

"We just let people cheat us and let it go," said Waters. "If they can live with it we can."

Fact is she's been living with an awful lot lately. It all starts more than a year ago. Storms ripped through her Gastonia neighborhood last April.

"It was a lot of hail," said Waters. "A lot of rain."

Her roof took a beating and no sooner had the damage been done, the doorbell started ringing. She says roofers came out of the woodwork, but Waters and her husband were not going to hire out-of-towners.

"We wanted to use some of our local people to keep the work here," said Waters.

They settled on McLean Homes after a personal visit from owner Tripp McLean.

"He had the same roofers for 13 years," said Waters. "He didn't use anything but qualified people."

The Waters, last September, got shingles, gutters and a bill for $16,000, but they also got something else. A home suddenly getting warmer. Waters says she immediately got ahold of McLean.

"I told him the air conditioner never did come on," said Waters.

She says McLean said it wasn't anything his roofers did.

WBTV asked home inspector Paul King to take a look. He says it looks like the roofer did do something.

"All of the Freon refrigerant leaked out of the piping," said King.

The cause in a moment, but first Ruth Waters had to put this headache off. She had bigger problems. She had taken two falls, spent time in hospital and her husband, her "Pug" who had struggled with health problems for years, didn't get better this time. He died December 4th and for the first time in 57 years Ruth was alone.

"We've been a mess here," said Waters.

And with a new summer approaching she still had no air conditioning.

King says the roofers drove too many nails into the Waters' roof. He says several hit the Freon carrying air conditioning line in the attic.

"You've got a sizeable ding in the copper piping," said King. "And there's a hole in he piping."

Waters says she tried again to get McLean to come and take a look for himself. She says he wouldn't. She says he stuck to the same line.

"He said it wasn't his problem," said Waters.

"They should man up and take responsibility for what they did," said King.

WBTV went to the McLean Homes office and to Tripp McLean's home in an attempt to find out what happened. He wasn't at either location, but we were able to reach him on the phone.

"I hadn't heard from the Waters since late last year," said McLean.

He also said the damage was the homebuilders fault, but right after the conversation McLean got a repair man moving to the Waters home.

"They sent a man out here the very next day," said Waters.

Just like that the air was back on. McLean did follow up with an email to WBTV. In it he wrote, ""We work with all our customers to address any concerns they may have. Our number one goal is customer satisfaction."

Waters is certainly much happier now as her home is again comfortably cool.

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