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A Dirty Tale

Last Saturday, after the Mr. and I returned from a day at the beach, we discovered that the house was a little warmer than usual.  We figured it was just us, being hot from a humid day, but one look at the thermostat told us otherwise.

The temperature on the thermostat was 77.  I had it set to 75.  This wasn’t good.

I turned it down another degree and waited, but nothing happened.

Uh oh.

I tried a few things…turned off the air…turned it back on…turned off the circuit breaker…still nothing.

The weird thing was that the unit in the garage would be working, but it wouldn’t come on in the house, or if it did, it was only for a few minutes.  It was holding steady at 77.

I knew I’d have to call the air conditioning people, but I wouldn’t be able to do that until Monday.  Ugh.

I googled, because I don’t like to give up, and read that the issue could be due to a number of reasons, including a dirty filter or a low level of freon.

At 11pm, I removed my filter and ran outside to rinse it out.  I’d put monthly reminders on my phone to tell me to clean it, but I’d ignored them…for the last few months.

Sigh.

I usually let my filter dry before reinserting it, but time was of the essence, so I shoved it back in and prayed.

When I woke up on Sunday morning, the first thought that struck was that I had not had trouble sleeping, like I would have if the air had not been working.  Sure enough, the thermostat reading said 75 degrees, my pre-set night time temperature (I’ve been manually cranking it to 74 lately).

I thought I’d fixed the problem but still resolved to call the air people.

We went to church and lunch afterward.  When we got home, the temperature was again at 77.  While I watched, it climbed to 78.

This was definitely not good.

I was a bit freaked because we’d only had the unit about four years.  We’d had a brand new one put in after our old one quit on us.  I’m sure I probably blogged about it.

The strangest thing happened Sunday night, though.  The air kicked in again, and it was 75 when I woke up.

I called as soon as I looked up the number.

Praise the Lord for the company I used.  The guy I talked to scheduled me for an appointment THAT DAY between 12 and 1.  “Ma’am, will you be home?” he asked?

Um, ya think?

Heehee.

I had a couple of errands to run, and in the middle of my second one, I got a phone call from the technician.  He was about to leave another appointment and wanted to know if I was home.

It was 10am.

Thank goodness I live in Podunk, USA, where everything is close to each other.  I turned around and got home just as he was backing into my driveway.

He opened up the pipe you see below and immediately diagnosed the problem.  It wasn’t draining properly.

The reason why the air kicked in at night was because by then, the gunk had drained enough for the unit to turn on.  There’s a floaty thing (I didn’t get a picture of it) that automatically shuts off the unit when the water level reaches a certain height in the drain.  This reminds me of how a toilet runs after a flush, so the water eventually stops filling the tank.

I already knew how to prevent the buildup…by pouring bleach into the drain each month.  Yep.  I was right.  Oh my.  How had I not been doing this?

He blew out the drain and even added a chemical solution to finish the job.  We ran outside to double check.  Yep.  Fluid was running through the drain again…the waste removal had been a success, as evidenced by my neighbor’s door…

Oops.

The technician checked the foils inside my garage unit, but everything was clean.  Thank heavens.  He said it costs $450 to clean those, which is why you have to keep the filter clean.

Ahem.

We walked to the outside unit, and he quickly determined that those coils needed to be cleaned (no $450 charge for this, though).

He took the fan out of it and then sprayed down each side with a chemical solution.  Then, he used the hose to clean each slat, first from the inside of the unit out, and then outside the unit in.

It was a messy job.  I saw a lot of debris pour out of it.  He explained that when the fan is running, it sucks in air.  Whatever is in the air gets sucked in too.

Y’all, I live in Florida where it storms a lot.  I’m not too far from the beach, so we have breezes regularly.  There’s lots of junk floating around in the air.

This was yet another reason to get my unit checked yearly, which I’d always done up to a couple of years ago.

Guess who signed up for their yearly maintenance plan?

Yep.

They’ll be coming out twice a year, once in the fall, and again in the spring, to check the heating and cooling units.  THEY will call to remind me, but I have NEW reminders in my phone.  Reminders to pour the bleach and clean the filter as well as to call for those appointments.

These are reminders that I won’t ignore again.

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