Friday, August 28, 2009

Tips on Maintaining Air Conditioners

Extend the Life of your Air Conditioner by Maintaining it Regularly

By Mark J. Donovan

An air conditioner is a godsend during hot and humid summer months. By providing periodic air condition maintenance your can extend the life of your portable air conditioner and prevent unforeseen negative surprises. Summarized below are a few simple air conditioner maintenance tips that can extend the life of your air conditioner.

Clean the Air Filter regularly. If you use your air conditioner daily during the summer months, clean the air filter once a month. If the air conditioner is used periodically then clean the air filter at the end of the summer.

Clean the condenser coils at the end of the summer season using a steel brush or by blowing compressed air onto them. Make sure the dust and dirt do not end up at the bottom of the air conditioner as this may impact the performance of your air conditioner.

If the outside air temperate is below 60 degrees, check the front condenser coils for ice buildup. If there is ice buildup, turn the air conditioner off and wait until the outside air temperature is warmer. Who needs air conditioning anyways at 60 degrees? Most folks will opt for turning up the heat at that temperature.

Do not cycle the air conditioner on and off abruptly, as this can shorten the life of the air conditioner. Wait a few minutes after shutting the air conditioner off before turning it back on.

Finally, when storing the air conditioner store it in a location where there is no chance for mice or birds to crawl into it and create nests. Small rodents can chew through insulation and wires and destroy an air conditioner in one off-season.

With these simple tips you should be able to extend the life of your portable air conditioner.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cutting Tree Limbs

Exercise Caution when Cutting Tree Limbs

By Mark J. Donovan

Last weekend I decided to cut down a large Oak tree limb. The tree limb was approximately 8 inches in diameter and was about 25 feet off the ground. The limb extended out about 30 feet out and impeded the lake view from my home.

Since I was nervous about using a chainsaw at the top of a ladder I decided to instead use a tree pole saw. Though it was slow going I made excellent progress cutting through the tree limb, at least until the saw blade became pinched in the sagging tree limb.

After spending about 15 minutes trying to remove the saw blade from the pinched tree limb, I decided to get a long length of rope and throw it around the end of the tree limb. After positioning myself away from where the tree limb would fall, I began to pull on the rope. After just a couple of pulls the tree limb gave way. Initially it just pivoted at the point that I made the cut. However, just after the branch went vertical it separated from the tree and went cart wheeling over towards the water and my 12 foot row boat. In the process of cart wheeling, the tree limb ripped the rope through my hand and fingers. Fortunately I did not have the rope wrapped around my hands. However, the speed in which the rope slide through my hands created rope burns on my right hand. In addition, the root of the tree limb (again 8 inches in diameter) landed in my row boat, crushing the metal bow seat.

So what’s the take away in this experience? First, when cutting a large tree limb branch, cut from the top to make sure the saw does not bind in the cut. Second, if you are going to attempt to pull down a hanging tree limb make sure you are not underneath it and that the rope is in no way wrapped around your body parts, nor tangled under your feet. Finally, make sure there is nothing in the area that you value. In my case I am very fortunate not to have lost my hand and my boat it this project, but I will have some permanent scars to remind me of this experience.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Why is My Dehumidifier Freezing Up?

By Mark J. Donovan

A dehumidifier contains heating and cooling coils and fins. Warm moist air, such as in a basement is drawn over these coils and fins by a fan that is in the dehumidifier. As the warm air is drawn over the coils the water vapor condenses and collects on the cooling coils and fins. The condensed water vapor then drips off of the cooling coils and fins, and into either a drain pan or a drip hose that flows into a sink, bucket or sump pump well.

During the process of condensing the water vapor, the water vapor normally produces enough heat to prevent the cooling coils from freezing up. However when there is a lack of humidity in the room or the temperature is too cool in the room, there is the potential for the dehumidifier to freeze up. The threat is exacerbated if the cooling coils are covered in dirt and dust.

To prevent the dehumidifier from freezing up there a few things you can do. First, if the humidity is low then turn off the dehumidifier. Alternatively you can cycle the dehumidifier off and on every few hours. This will allow the cooling coils to warm up and melt any ice that could be forming on them. Second, you can raise the temperature in the room to lower the risk of ice formation in the dehumidifier. Third, make sure the cooling coils and fins are free of dirt and dust. Finally, make sure the dehumidifier is up off the floor of the basement or room. Warm moist air rises and cool dry air falls. By raising the dehumidifier up off the floor the dehumidifier will work more efficiently and it will have less chance of freezing up.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Save Energy with a Humidifier

Reduce this year’s Winter Home Heating Bills with a Humidifier

By Mark J. Donovan

One way that you can save energy and reduce your home heating bills during the winter is to use a room or whole house humidifier. Ideally the relative humidity level within the home should be between 30 and 50% for maximum comfort. During the winter months, however, besides being cold the air is typically very dry. When the air is extremely dry within the home it can feel even colder. Consequently there is a natural tendency to raise the thermostat setting. Raising the temperature in the home, however, exacerbates the problem as it helps to make the air even drier.

A room or whole house humidifier can resolve this problem by increasing the humidity levels in the home, so that the thermostat can be set to a lower setting and yet you still feel warm. An example of this situation is during the summer months, when the air temperature may be only 75 degrees but the humidity level is above 65%. You feel hot, even though the temperature is only mildly warm. Conversely if the temperature is 75 degrees and the air is extremely dry you may feel that the air is actually cool and crisp feeling.

If the humidifier is set too high during the winter months, you may begin to notice water droplets on your windows. If this occurs, then you need to lower the humidifier moisture output.

So save on energy and reduce this year’s winter home heating bills with a humidifier. You’ll save money as well as feel more comfortable.