WHAT YOUR AIR-CONDITIONING TECH MAY ASSUME YOU KNOW

I would like to educate other members of the population who did not take plumbing and air-conditioning classes.  If your outdoor air-conditioning unit has a condensation drain, check it yearly. Make sure it is not clogged by roots, leaves and dirt. Failure to do so can cost you a heart-stopping chunk of change.

AIR-CONDITIONING TECH’S FIRST VISIT

This is what my condensation drain looked like on the air-conditioning tech’s first visit. The drain pipe was almost buried but he didn’t seem to notice.

AIR-CONDITIONING TECH’S SECOND VISIT

After the tech’s second visit, where he got down to the business of fixing what was actually wrong, my brother installed a 1-1/2 inch PVC pipe under the AC drain. He cut a hole in the PVC pipe where it meets up with the condensation drain and placed a piece of screen over that hole. A PVC end cap closed up the PVC pipe at that end.

This next photo is the other end. It was cut at an angle and left exposed for drainage purposes:

THEY ASSUME YOU KNOW

I learned about condensation drains the hard way. As is often the case, my 5-year-old Bryant air-conditioner (a Carrier product) stopped cooling in 93 degree weather. I am always so excited when it does that. Well, maybe not. On the first trip, the tech replaced the capacitor because some kind of measurement was at 43.5 and needed to be 45. Better to replace it than pay for another service call. The unit then kept me in cool comfort for 8 days. It chose to stop cooling on a day that I was not home. I couldn’t get it serviced until the next day.

On the second trip, the tech decided that my fan blower broke because roots had grown over the condensation drain. Huh? Yeah, that was my reaction, too.

Without proper drainage, condensation remained inside the unit to splash up on the blower each time the unit came on. In other words, it was my fault. It had just gone out of warranty, anyway.  I was most unhappy that my AC company, who installed the $3700 unit five years ago, never mentioned that I should monitor the condensation drain to insure it remained clutter free. When I mentioned this aggravation to my brother, he said they assume you know this. Well, gee, it is kind of obvious in hindsight now that I know what that small PVC pipe was supposed to do. However, never once in high school or college was I offered air-conditioning or plumbing classes. Thus, I didn’t realize the white PVC pipe was a drain. As a result of my ignorance, these two trips from the AC tech cost me $1600. Now, run outside and check your condensation drain, okay?

 

TRAVEL INCENTIVES

I had to give up ice cream. Our local grocery store, Publix, has a license to offer Denali Original Moose Tracks as ice cream and frozen yogurt. I always opted for the frozen yogurt because of calories. Considering that the taste is addictive, a lower calorie count is moot. You get the picture, right? Three bowls later, I berate myself about the calories, right? I stopped buying the Moose Tracks just before people looked at me and thought, “broad side of the barn”.

Instead, I drool down to the Dairy Queen once a week for a Mister Misty Lime Freeze.  This is a product that your DQ Confections Expert may not be familiar with because it dates back to the Baby Boomer ‘s youth. At some short-sighted moment in the DQ’s history, it was taken off the menu. No problem. I can tell these wrinkle-free Confections Experts just how to make it. Put a few squirts of that green goo in a cup. Add some ice, vanilla ice cream and blend. A divine concoction and the $4 price most certainly discourages me from pigging out.

Dairy Queen-0181
My Dairy Queen — drive-up or walk-up only
The building posts mimic ice cream cones

I headed to Atlanta for Mother’s Day weekend to see my sister, Priss. I’m not one for the journey. I much prefer the idea of Time Travel – you stand at Point A and are immediately whisked to Point B. Driving 6 hours just to get to Atlanta required incentives.

At the top of my incentives list was the DQ Mister Misty Lime Freeze. All along I-75, my searching eyes watched the road side billboards for Dairy Queen exit numbers. One of them I stopped at was brand new and I marveled at the clever advertising for Grill & Chill. I didn’t remember seeing that phrase at my DQ but if I was trying to get people to pull off the interstate at a wide spot in the road, I’d try clever phrasing, too.

This was an indoor restaurant version of DQ and they really should have posted a warning on the door. The minute I opened that door, hurricane force winds attacked my body. It was a Candid Camera moment. I flailed against the wind and looked around wildly for its source while wondering, “WHAT are they trying to do? Blow the bed bugs off me?”

I wasn’t far from the mark. Priss being a licensed architect, I asked her why the Dairy Queen tried to blow me out of the building before I even got in it. According to Priss, these gadgets are Air Curtain Fly Fans. The purpose is to supply a high velocity stream of air at an opening to prevent flies and other insects from entering the building. I can now add “insect” to the list of insults heaped upon me. The rest of you can go on with your day forewarned about Air Curtain Fly Fans, should you encounter one.

 

NEW YEAR, NEW FLAG

Flag artist: Robin Pickens
Flag artist: Robin Pickens

I’m a huge fan of these big garden flags if they have really vibrant color. I was cruising through Wal-Mart in 2015 and this flag all but jumped off the display and slapped me to the ground. Talk about vibrant color – WOW! So I kept it for the New Year and rather than annoy the neighbors with fireworks, I’m gonna put their eyes out with my flag.

I started my New Year off with the same resolutions as last year because I didn’t finish them. Plus I sent up a lot of prayers of gratitude when I didn’t bust anything while doing a combination Lucille Ball/Carol Burnett trick with arms pinwheeling, legs going in every direction and the umbrella slicing the air. It must have been a sight to behold. Luckily, it was 7 a.m. and raining so the neighbors weren’t out to do any of that beholding. You know that gunk that builds up on concrete where the sun doesn’t reach? Yep, there’s a strip of it right down the middle of the driveway and my right foot slid out from under me too fast for a correction and I never mastered those cheerleader splits, anyway, so I wound up in a heap on the wet, concrete driveway. I’ve got a huge bruise on my left shin and all my joints were rearranged which required a few chiropractic adjustments to put them back where they belonged. Whew. Was God with me or what?

In the News You Can Use department, this NBC link will give you Chick-Fil-A’s coleslaw recipe because they are discontinuing it and replacing it with something involving kale. Now, I like Russian Kale but the rest of it they can keep so I’m just a little skeptical. Also, you fans of the 20% off coupon at Bed, Bath & Beyond may want to take note that their coupons are a little too popular with the populace and may be scaled back.

SS – SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS

I want to caution you about recipes you find on the internet written by bloggers with unknown education and experience. Basically, people like me.

I found a Toilet Bowl Cleaner recipe (hereinafter referred to as “cleaner”) on one of those natural living websites. Interested in trying less toxic cleaning products, I decided to give it a try. It was a simple recipe calling for 1 cup of baking soda, 1 cup of castile soap, 2/3 cup of distilled water and ¼ cup of hydrogen peroxide.

most of the ingredients

The blogger indicated it would make 3 cups. I prefer frugal recipes and this doesn’t qualify because Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soap (Certified Free Trade) was $16.19 for 32 ounces via Amazon. That amount will make the recipe four times at a cost of $4; add the baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, distilled water and this recipe is just not frugal. Another Dr. Bronner’s, without the “organic oils,” was available for $14.02 which would bring it under $4 but that’s still too much for a cleaner. Perhaps, if I had looked through all 20 pages on Amazon, I might have found a cheaper brand of castile soap.

All of this went into a 25 ounce dishwater soap bottle; 3 cups = 24 ounces, right?

I shook the bottle vigorously until the ingredients combined and the baking soda dissolved. At least I thought it dissolved. Maybe it didn’t. I got distracted and didn’t return to the cleaner bottle until the next morning. I found the cleaner bottle hideously deformed. The baking soda had separated from the other liquids so I gave it a few more of those vigorous shakes and opened the lid on the bottle. KA-BLOOM.

I picked myself up off the floor, wiped the baking soda fizz from my face and narrowed my eyes at the bottle. I couldn’t help but think that the blogger who published this concoction was guilty of foisting illegal science experiments on the unsuspecting. Just call me Gullible. Clearly, something in the bottle didn’t like something else in the bottle. I decided that stuff was never going into my toilet. It’s one thing to be blown off my feet but quite another to have a hole blown in my porcelain fixture.

It continued to foam at the mouth of the closed lid for another day or so until it had off-gassed whatever was in the bottle that didn’t like being hemmed up. I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that the baking soda didn’t like closed quarters but, really, I’m not a science buff. Once the off-gassing subsided, I figured it was safe to open the lid, which it was, and I gave it a squeeze in the bathroom sinks and tub. I can report that it cleans really great.

I question whether the expensive castile soap is necessary. I have successfully removed all kinds of laundry stains with just two of the ingredients in this recipe — baking soda (52 cents) and hydrogen peroxide (33 cents). It qualifies for frugal and works better than Shout, Shout Advanced and OxiClean. Pour a little baking soda on the stain, squirt it with the hydrogen peroxide and let it soak several hours or overnight in the sink or a bucket. I have removed all sorts of mysterious spots from clothing and kitchen towels. Throw it in the washer after the overnight soak and voila, no stain!

META’S GARDENING IDEAS

Meta is a long-time follower of my blog and we finally met in the sizzling heat of early July 2014. After her visit, I shared her wonderful idea of using clay pots to make a border for a pathway.

Even before meeting her I had shared her garden with a decorative fence built by her son.

More recently, I shared her lion’s tail growing in the compost pile. I now want to show you a few more of her tricks.

You’ve seen gardeners who paint an old wheelbarrow, fill it with showy flowers and roll it out to the front yard. Meta prefers to hide her old wheelbarrows in the back yard as plant nurseries. When two of her wheelbarrows rusted through, she painted one yellow and one green and her son put them on building blocks for height to save her gardener’s back.

For several years now, she has found the rusty holes in the wheelbarrow bed make them perfect for growing seeds, cuttings and seedlings. In the green wheelbarrow, most of those stringy plants are not green beans but future amaryllis bulbs. I gave her the seeds from my plants when she visited in 2014. She had absolutely no faith that those papery black seeds would sprout into anything so she put the seeds in pots and forgot about them. To her surprise, they sprouted and she sent me a photo. I suggested she put them in larger pots where the bulbs could easily grow larger and into the wheelbarrow nursery they went. As you can see, she stuck some flowers in to give the plantings some color for her photo. We gals just need to make things purty.

Meta two wheelbarrows-
Photo credit – Meta

According to Meta, the reddish/orange wheelbarrow in this next photo was given to her when a friend moved away. Look at the tires on it! She was hoping that leaving water in the wheelbarrow would help it rust some drainage holes for a new plant nursery but it hasn’t happened yet. Her son may need to help it along with a drill.

Meta three wheelbarrows-
Photo credit: Meta

Meta’s next idea is up there with the clay pot border for originality. I have never known of a gardener who recycled old metal shelves from the garage into a plant nursery by turning it on its side and filling it with soil. I can’t tell what that is on the front that she’s using to hold the soil in. I’m sure she’ll tell us in the Comments.

Meta shelf one-
Photo credit: Meta

Here’s the other end showing wooden stakes that are holding the shelves in place in the yard.

Meta shelf two-
Photo credit: Meta

Isn’t Meta a genius of a recycler?