December 17, 2017

Archives for June 2006

No Fan Of Air Conditioner Repairs — Do It Yourself Maintenance Tips

air conditioning repairWith summer heat and threats of air conditioner supply shortages, if you can’t buy a unit, then keeping yours working is the way to go.

An air conditioner’s filters, coils, and fins require regular maintenance for the unit to function effectively and efficiently throughout its years of service. Neglecting necessary maintenance ensures a steady decline in air conditioning performance while energy use steadily increases.

Air Conditioner Filters: The most important maintenance task that will ensure the efficiency of your air conditioner is to routinely replace or clean its filters. Clogged, dirty filters block normal air flow and reduce a system’s efficiency significantly. With normal air flow obstructed, air that bypasses the filter may carry dirt directly into the evaporator coil and impair the coil’s heat-absorbing capacity. Keeping the filter clean can lower your air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5%–15%.

air conditioner newFor central air conditioners, filters are generally located somewhere along the return duct’s length. Common filter locations are in walls, ceilings, furnaces, or in the air conditioner itself. Room air conditioners have a filter mounted in the grill that faces into the room.

Some types of filters are reusable; others must be replaced. They are available in a variety of types and efficiencies. Clean or replace your air conditioning system’s filter or filters every month or two during the cooling season. Filters may need more frequent attention if the air conditioner is in constant use, is subjected to dusty conditions, or you have fur-bearing pets in the house.

Air Conditioner Coils: The air conditioner’s evaporator coil and condenser coil collect dirt over their months and years of service. A clean filter prevents the evaporator coil from soiling quickly. In time, however, the evaporator coil will still collect dirt. This dirt reduces air flow and insulates the coil, reducing its ability to absorb heat. To avoid this problem, check your evaporator coil every year and clean it as necessary.

Outdoor condenser coils can also become very dirty if the outdoor environment is dusty or if there is foliage nearby. You can easily see the condenser coil and notice if dirt is collecting on its fins.

You should minimize dirt and debris near the condenser unit. Your dryer vents, falling leaves, and lawn mower are all potential sources of dirt and debris. Cleaning the area around the coil, removing any debris, and trimming foliage back at least 2 feet (0.6 meters) allow for adequate air flow around the condenser.

Coil Fins: The aluminum fins on evaporator and condenser coils are easily bent and can block air flow through the coil. Air conditioning wholesalers sell a tool called a “fin comb” that will comb these fins back into nearly original condition.

Condensate Drains: Occasionally pass a stiff wire through the unit’s drain channels. Clogged drain channels prevent a unit from reducing humidity, and the resulting excess moisture may discolor walls or carpet.

Window Seals for Room Air Conditioners: At the start of each cooling season, inspect the seal between the air conditioner and the window frame to ensure it makes contact with the unit’s metal case. Moisture can damage this seal, allowing cool air to escape from your house.

Preparing for Winter: In the winter, either cover your room air conditioner or remove and store it. Covering the outdoor unit of a central air conditioner will protect the unit from winter weather and debris.

Can You Hear Me Now? Amplified Phone Market to Grow As Boomers Age.

Earlier this month, the news reported the latest craze, cellphone Ringtones that only teens can hear. The National Public Radio (NPR) article Teens Turn ‘Repeller’ into Adult-Proof Ringtone describes how:

The war between teens and authority figures has a new — or old — front: ears. British shopkeepers tired of teenage loiterers have turned to the Mosquito teen repellent, which emits a high-pitch frequency that most teenagers can hear — but not most adults.

But now teens have struck back against the Mosquito: They are using the same sound to communicate without adults’ knowledge.

At issue is a text-message ringtone that emits the same pitch as the Mosquito. Using it, students can learn about a new message while they’re in class — where they’re not supposed to be using their cellphones. Most of their teachers can’t hear the alert.

No matter which side of the argument you’re on, the rest of the article is fascinating reading.

At the opposite end of the sound spectrum are amplified phones for baby boomers. This Week In Consumer Electronics (TWICE) reports that

According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, 28 million Americans (one in 10) suffer from some form of hearing loss. The percentage shifts dramatically for those age 65 or over to one out of three. According to the National Institutes of Health, the number of people aged 65 and over is expected to double in size within the next 25 years. By 2030, almost one out of every five Americans (72 million people) will be 65 years or older.

Manufacturers Panasonic, Uniden, VTech, Motorola, ClearSounds and Clarity are getting involved not merely in raising the amplification but in isolating the frequencies that the hearing-impaired usually miss.

Refrigerator Sex Appeal???

refrigerator tvHey, I didn’t put those words together in the first sentence of this Orlando Sentinel article entitled

See hot new ideas found in the fridge
Some of today’s models go high tech and high style, making food storage and cleanup a little cooler

Refrigerators may lack the sex appeal of other swanky kitchen appliances, but that image is changing.

Floridian readers take their refrigeration seriously! The article sees the Jetsons-ification of what was once a boring device and notes increasingly common new features like door alarms, computerized digital controls, slide-out storage, TVs, humidity controls, halogen lighting, and custom facades to match kitchen cabinetry.

Dacor and Sub-Zero use microchips to adjust defrost cycles to usage patterns. Bosch refrigerators have sensors in less pricy models. Usage patterns?!? Like when kids stand in front of the frig for half the afternoon?

Samsung‘s refrigerator has a 10-inch LCD touch screen with digital memo pad to set expiration dates. LG’s 15-inch screen has DVD capability on one door and a smaller 4-inch screen to display local weather information, digital photos, recipes and a calendar.

Parents used to scream at kids to close the refrigerator door and to remind them that the frig isn’t a TV. Not for much longer as these features trickle down in the coming years.

I just gotta have that vintage appliance part

What are you gonna do when you just have to have a Vintage 1970’s Mixmaster Governor Assembly? The great thing about the internet and search is that you can find most anything. But how do you know the information is reliable? Came across a great little site called run by Dave Harnish of New Albany PA. Dave has a nice little newsletter offering advice and tips on how a handy homeowner can repair major appliances. He has PDF versions of vintage manuals and an inventory of vintage parts. Hope you find it as helpful as I did.

Laundry Appliances – Location, Location and Location

laundry animated
It’s the fodder of cartoon strips and Erma Bombeck novels, but hauling laundry from bedrooms and bathrooms to remote laundry rooms and basements is the exhausting bane of leaving your parents’ nest and doing your own washing duties.

laundry animated
The July 2006 Consumer Reports discusses the efficient trend of moving the mountain of laundry closer to Mom (or Dad!) instead of the old way of someone bulldozering the laundry to the laundry room.

The issue covers the critical decisions in planning and purchasing and contains the annual washing machine and dryer report.

A few strong but reasonably quiet performers from our Quick Picks include the Whirlpool LSW9700P top-loader, $380; the Whirlpool Duet GHW9150P front-loader, $1,100; and the GE Profile DPSB620EC, $580, and Kenmore (Sears) Elite 6697, $640, dryers. To minimize vibrations, make sure that your appliances are level. And purchase products from a dealer who will allow you to return or exchange them if they shake and shimmy too much once they’re in place.
Key features to look for are stackability, cycle noise, cycle time, and end-of-cycle signal. Note that top-loaders are always substantially faster than front-loaders.

Luxury GE Appliances

General Electric logoThere once was a time when this headline would seem as unlikely as “Performance Yugo” or “Haute Cuisine Denny’s“. Nonetheless, the New York Times reports in GE finds sleek profit in luxury appliances that GE is tired of sour grapes and is aiming at the Viking and SubZero market.

GE recently inserted a 30-page promotional brochure in four big-market newspapers, featuring Martha Stewart, Donald Trump, Jay Leno and other well-known moneyed people posing in their Monogram-bedecked designer kitchens.

“We wanted to give the idea that people who can afford Hatteras yachts and Neguchi tables choose Monogram,” Klein said, adding that GE has sold more than a dozen of those $30,000 wine vaults.

“You’re going to have a billion middle class people in China and India by 2015.”

No more whining for GE now that it is in the wine vault and luxury appliance business! GE has seen that the appliance growth market isn’t just in the USA.