Showing posts with label cleaning spray. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cleaning spray. Show all posts

Frugal Home Maintenance - Clean Your A/C Coils

We came home from a motorcycle ride on last weekend, and the house felt warm. I checked the air conditioner thermostat and it was 84F! We usually set our thermostat to 79F which is a frugal setting in Florida. We have a lot of appliances, pumps and electronics sucking our electricity everyday, so we try to conserve where we can - which is the air conditioning. But one frugal thing we should have done a long time ago, is to maintain the evaporator coils in the inside A frame air conditioner unit. We never cleaned it after our big remodel last summer and it was a dust fest in here while we installed drywall, painted, sanded and installed carpet and tile throughout most of the house. Consequently, our poor A/C has been working very hard to pull clean air through those caked up coils.

I first noticed last week when we had the thermostat set at 79, and the temp inside was 81. And the unit just seemed to run all the time, but it was not very efficient. I suggested to my husband, we needed to change the filter. But it didn't happen. When we finally did change the filter, it wasn't really that dirty so I knew it was a bigger problem than a dirty filter. So, with the filter removed it was possible to peek into the unit and see the real problem - a layer of iced up frozen dust and grime.

If you have this problem, you can simply clean the evaporator coils yourself and save yourself a couple hundred dollars on an AC service call. If you clean your coils and still have a problem reaching temp, then it is possible you have depleted some freon (if icing coils reappear), and you'll need to call a service guy.

Anyway, it's not hard to clean the coils, we just looked up a couple youtube videos on how to clean AC coils. You probably will only need to clean the underside of the A frame coils where the air is pulled through. The top side of ours was clean. We ran to the home improvement store and purchased a water based cleaning spray that was a foaming cleanser, it stated self rinsing so no water flush would be necessary. It cost $5.48. We also purchased a roll of metal tape to seal up the AC cabinet seams for $7.48.

  1. Turn off AC at thermostat. Gather your safety gear - eye protection, face mask and something to cover your hair from debris (a hat or hanky). You will also need a flashlight, stiff brush, cleansing spray, plastic sheeting and pans to collect debris, metal tape, and a household fan.
  2. Line the area under your A frame unit with plastic, then place pans or wash tubs under to collect the melting ice, water and grime.
  3. If iced up, melt ice using a hair dryer. Do not damage the evaporator fins by chipping away ice, just be patient and melt it.
  4. Using a stiff plastic brush (I used an plastic old dish washing brush with a long handle), dip it in water and brush down the big grime and dust layer toward the drip tray.
  5. When you can see the coils and they are kind of clear of debris, don your safety gear and spray the foaming cleanser all over the coils.on the underside of the A frame. Let it sit for five or more minutes until the foam has mostly dissipated. Then take your stiff brush and clean the remaining dirt from the coils. I also had to use a 2 ft long shish kabob poker to dislodge dirt from the top apex of the inside of the unit.
  6. If you have an air compressor, it will make cleaning and drying the unit easy. We used compressed air to blow out all remaining dirt and used it to help dry the evaporator fins. You must dry your unit completely before starting up again, or you risk icing up.
  7. Dry your AC evaporator coils with a household fan pointed in there to remove all moisture. We have a large window fan we pointed up there for an hour before we started up the unit.
  8. Replace your cabinet panels and tape seams shut with metal AC tape. Replace the air filter.
  9. Turn on your thermostat. Wait several hours for it to reach temp. Ours lowered the temp 1 degree in 30 minutes, but then next degree took an hour. 
  10. After a couple hours of your AC unit running, check the coils by removing your air filter and peek up into the unit to make sure the coils are not iced up. If not, just be patient - its working.
So, it took a good portion of our weekend day; but we feel more empowered and of course will do this simple maintenance job more frequently in the future.

One Bottle to Saving Money, the Planet, and Your Sanity

A look at the ingredients list or price tag of any household cleaning spray or shampoo is usually enough to curl your toes.  
 
Parabens are called "gender-benders" in the scientific community for a reason, and bleach leaves an awful smell from vapors that actually irritate lungs, skin, and eyes, especially of children and pets.  Moreover, items like personal and home cleaning agents—even when on sale—aren't always cheap.  The cost on the environment is a heavy price to pay, and more directly, they aren't always cheap on our personal bank accounts, especially since they don't seem to last very long.

Conventional cosmetics and cleaning companies make us pay good money to feel like we're doing the earth and our bodies a favor.  But not Dr. Bronner. For over 60 years, Dr. Bronner's line of soaps has appealed to thrifty eco-enthusiasts across America.  Now, their line is fair trade, organic, and still affordable.  Best of all, they're multi-purpose.  Save money and time by making your own shampoo, face wash, and household cleaning spray with just one diluted bottle of Dr. Bronner's liquid castile soap!
 
DIY Shampoo and Body Soap
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup Dr. Bronner's liquid castile soap
  • Optional 2 tsp jojoba oil for dry hair
  • Optional 5 drops of lavender or tea tree oil for oily hair
Mix the ingredients together in an empty bottle and shake before use.  It's watery, but its lathering capabilities will surprise you; try flipping your hair over your head in the shower and applying directly to your scalp so it doesn't just run down your neck.  Because lavender and tea tree oil are natural antiseptics, they'll help de-grease an extra grungy scalp (especially if you use a lot of hair products).  You can add the essential oils yourself or just buy the lavender or tea tree oil varieties they have at the store (they have 8 scents in all, each infused with different essential oils).  The eucalyptus and peppermint soaps do the best jobs at clearing sinuses, so stock up now in preparation for spring.
 
You'll find that as you use this gentle shampoo, your hair's natural moisture will keep you from having to spend as much money on hair products.  There's no sense in stripping your locks of helpful and natural oils just to replace them with parabens and petroleum.  As long as you wash a few times a week and use fewer chems, don't ever doubt your cleanliness.
 
DIY Face Wash
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup Dr. Bronner's liquid castile soap
No, you read that right.  It's that easy.  Whether you have fairly easy-to-please skin or the kind that has you prowling www.acne.org (which gives Dr. Bronner 4.5 out of 5 stars, by the way), Dr. Bronner's soaps are gentle on your skin and just tough enough on germs.  The mistake most people with problem skin make is stripping it dry, causing oil glands to go into overdrive.  Just follow cleansing with your typical toning and moisturizing routine and watch your pores shrivel, skin clear, and stress drop.
 
DIY Home Cleaning Disinfectant Spray
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tbsp Dr. Bronner's liquid castile soap
  • 20 to 30 drops of tea tree oil
Tea tree oil was recently discovered in an Italian study to inhibit the spread of bacteria—even the fearsome H1N1 virus.  Rather than relying on bleach (and its toxic vapors) or low-grade pesticides to clean your tiles and counters, try mixing these ingredients in an old spray bottle to disinfect almost any surface.  Tea tree oil isn't toxic (unless you down a whole bottle of it at once), so you don't have to worry about the kids and animals touching the surfaces you've cleaned.


Credit: Dr. Bronner
Bio: Alexis Bonari is currently a resident blogger at College Scholarships, where recently she's been. Whenever this WAHM gets some free time she enjoys doing yoga, cooking with the freshest organic in-season fare, and practicing the art of coupon clipping.