Showing posts with label maintenance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label maintenance. 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.

It's Freezing Outside, but Not in My Freezer

This morning in the car on the way to work, it was 32F. Brr. Now it's in the 60's like it should be. Tonight, we came home from the #Publix with a few boxes of frozen fish fillets that needed to fit in the freezer. Our two full size refrigerator/freezers were full so DH went to see if our little freezer had any room. But it was full. And melty. Apparently, in the recent past the little freezer decided to quit working. The majority of the frozen stuff was soft and had to be tossed - a dozen pints of Hagen Daz ice cream, a dozen bags of Ore-Ida potato Grillers, over a dozen Buitoni pastas, Sea Pak breaded shrimp, Marie Callendars Chicken Alfredo, and Rudi's Gluten Free Bread. But we did manage to save the boneless chicken breasts, frozen veggies and Egg Beaters. We ate the thawed TGIF chicken wings and Sea Pack Shrimp snacks for dinner along with some Grillers.
It's really a drag to throw out two garbage bags of food. Food that I like and wanted to eat some day. Especially the ice cream. Pistachio is really good, so is Strawberry. And Rocky Road. All of it melted.
I think the problem is we didn't defrost when we should have. It's defrosted now, but it doesn't work. The overload protection probably blew a fuse. So now we have to trouble shoot and see if we can repair it, otherwise we're out a little freezer. Which won't be the end of the world, but I do have 40 lbs of boneless chicken breasts coming at the end of March from Zaycon. We'll need to find room, so that means lots of fish fillets and steamfresh veggies in our dinner plans for the next month. And ice cream bars - we managed to save the Magnum bars.
Goodbye diet. For a month anyway.

How To Save Money On Costly Auto Repairs

Taking your car to the body shop for repairs is never fun. You first have to deal with losing your car for up to several days. You then have to worry about a repair that will cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. However, there are ways to save time and money when it comes to your car repair.
Do The Repairs Yourself
There are repairs that you can do yourself if you have the expertise. Instead of going to the dealer to replace a dented quarter panel, you can repair the dent yourself. Some brake jobs and engine repair work can be done on your own as well. Most repair shops charge you more for labor than they do for parts. Doing the work yourself saves you a significant amount of money.
Go To The Junk Yard
Junk yards are great places to find used parts for your older car. They are generally priced to move as well. If you are willing to find the part yourself, you can usually have it for close to nothing. Keep in mind that the junk yard may be the only place where you can find a gas tank for a 1991 Sonata.
Go To An Internet Auction Or Classified Site
The Internet is a great place to find auto parts that people want to part with. Finding a private seller means you won't be charged a ridiculous amount for whatever part you need. Dealing with a seller in your area also means you don't have to wait for the part to be shipped to your home. That will allow you to make the fix much sooner.
Find A Mechanic Looking For A Side Job
A local mechanic who is looking for some extra cash may be willing to do the repair for you at a reduced rate. Perhaps you have a friend or colleague who owes you a favor. Take advantage of the situation to get your repair work done for a reduced price. You may even get lucky and get the work done for no charge.
Auto repair work is a costly and time consuming process. Luckily, there are ways that you can reduce the cost of repairs that you need done. Ask a friend, do it yourself or find cheap parts online. These are three great ways to make sure you are not spending your entire savings on a new radiator.
Bio: Bernard writes in the automotive field. Currently he blogs for Auto Selling Solutions a company that pays cash for your cars in San Diego.

Pooped Pool Pump

So, its another rainy day - which actually is really great for our newly seeded front yard - it is a carpet of green grass now. But not so good for getting in a walk after work. Well, then its onto other chores like checking on the pool. All the rain filled it up pretty high and it could use a back flush to bring it back to normal levels for good skimming action. So, I go out to the power switch to discover it wouldn't go on. The breaker switch had tripped so I flipped it back to on. We must have had a power outage from all the storms. Anyway, I turned on the pump and in a couple seconds it started smoking and smelling like burnt up motor before it popped the breaker again. Uh Oh. Not good. The old cooter was toasted. So, I got DH and we checked it out some more and decided we needed to get a new one. We disconnected the wiring and brought it to pinch a penny and they switched it out in a few minutes. We brought it home and connected it back up to the power, with just a few minutes to spare before another rainy downpour.
So we are the proud owners of a new $220 pool pump. We kind of knew we needed to keep an eye on the old one and it needed some new cones or something, But we waited too long and then it was toast. The new one is smooth and quiet though. Definitely worth it.
The point is, if you have home equipment that needs attention or maintenance to prolong its life, don't put it off. Emergency repairs have a way of popping up at at the most inconvenient time. Like Monday on our day off after our trip, we had planned to mow and trim the lawn. The problem was the fuel line on the weed wacker had disintegrated and the new one we replaced it with leaked gas, and it wouldn't start. So we called a small engine repair shop and they wanted $35 bucks to "look at it", and it would take a week. Instead we just searched for "fuel line weed wacker" on and found a couple home videos that outlined exactly how to replace the fuel line. We fixed ours like it said, and it works just great now. Free and instant.
If you don't know how to fix something, but you think you have the aptitude or parts and just need a little guidance, is definitely a resource that you should check out. There a tons of tips on how to fix and repair stuff, which can save you from an expensive repair.

Window Shopping

A few weeks ago, the passenger window of the 04' Camry started failing us. The window started to lug and lurch when we tried lowering it or raising it, kind of like the motor was failing. We left it closed and decided we better get it fixed before our racing trip coming up in August. Well, today we're planning on giving blood after work and the location is near the car dealer. It would be an ideal time to both drive and then drop off a car, so I called the dealer to figure out whats involved.
Well to my surprise, it costs a bunch of money to make a car window go up and down. First there is the inspection fee to determine if its just the regulator or the motor, or both. And then of course they don't have parts for THAT in stock, so it takes a day to get it from somewhere else, another dealer or supplier. So essentially, it means two trips to the dealer - or leave the car for two days. For us its not that big a deal because we have other wheels to get to work, but for some people this would suck.
So I'm wondering what is the value of the having a window go up and down, and what is the urgency to do it. Personally, we do not like to own cars or anything for that matter, that is makeshift or only partially operable. I like everything to work as designed, so we usually fix anything that breaks right away, or we replace it. I hate broken crap, or using stuff that doesn't work. I hate that the back window windshield wiper on the SUV is wacky and only clears 1/2 the window, but I guess I can live with that. But can I live with a window that doesn't go down? Maybe. Is it worth $682 to have the window go down? Maybe.
But you know us - the frugal ones, we have to check out our options, call another dealer who might have parts, find a competitor coupon that they would match, or go to the local guy Elmer around the corner who's done good work for us before on the cars. I might even check out youtube to see if there's a video on how to do it myself. Who knows it might be really simple, just to pop out the door molding and pop in a quick connect regulator. Its possible. I could seek advice from my un-frugal brother who is a service manager at a dealer, but he would tell me to quit being so cheap and just bring it to the dealer.
We ultimately will get the window fixed because the car only has 64,000 miles on it and is intended to last forever for us. But for now all we'll be doing is some window shopping.

Memorial Weekend Laptop Fizzle

On one of the past few days DH was wasting time on my precious laptop, surfing youtube and he picked up a virus. He didn't let me know right away, just after it got annoying when he tried to search and google would come up with a totally weird place in UK. Anyway, by the time I became aware of the problem it was a few days and there were no uninfected restore points on the system tools to go back to an earlier date.
I should have backed up my drive but I didn't. I did move all my files, music and pictures off and then tried to figure out my best option. I was planning on reformatting some day anyway, so that's what I did. I just re-installed the XP operating system, but what a pain now. I have to use my other hard drive to transfer at least an Internet browser onto the laptop so I can download some programs.
Needless to say, I'm backing up my main desktop so I don't have a problem if I ever have a virus or breakdown. And I told DH no more random surfing on So it'll be a while before he gets my laptop back.


While out on a nice motorycle ride this weekend, all of a sudden my back tire started feeling like it was falling off. My backend started swaying back and forth, and I slowed down thinking the wheel was off the axle. My riding partner yelled STOP YOU HAVE A FLAT! Great. It actually could have been a hundred times worse circumstances, but we were on a back road with light traffic so we were able to roll the bike aside and assess the problem. It became obvious relatively easily, I was screwed. What bad luck to run over 2" screw and have it impale my new tire. The tire still have knobbies on, its only got 2600 miles on it. We're hoping we can plug it and fill it up and ride it home.  So I hop on the other bike and we ride two up back home to get the truck, tool bag and our air station. So we get back and realize our plug kit is a little old, probably since 2007 and its lost some of its gooeyness. The first plug didn't hold the air. So we did it again, this time it worked. We rode the bike home and have pretty much decided that the peace of mind would be worth just replacing the tire with a brand new one.
So I call the Honda motorcycle dealer and find out its $51 to replace a flat tire with a new one. Being the frugal pair that we are, we need to continue to investigate and we hope we ask all the right questions. Does this install include balancing and spin test, what about disposal fees. I wonder if I can sell the old patched tire on craigslist? How much would it go for?
It turns out the back tire on my bike is a Bridgestone Mag Mopus 130/90-15M/C G508 which is an import. Great. These are not sold that I can find in the US. The only available tires are Chinese brands like Shenka, or the domestic brand Dunlop. A replacement Dunlop is $72 plus $10 shipping. So will the dealer let me bring in my own tire and they install it? Will it be covered for any warranty, even 30 days?
I probably wouldn't bother to replace the plugged tire if it weren't for the fact that this is a brand new 2009 Honda motorcycle. Its still under warranty through October. I haven't had any problems with it, but would like the dealer to tighten the chain, and tighten a loose rattling on the front headlight. I figure if they replace the back tire, they have to adjust the chain anyway, and I could tighten the bolt on the loose rattle - so bringing this in right away is a little premature. Except, the first evening after the flat tire, we noticed the back tire was flat again. It had drained air. The old dried out plugs weren't working. So we got a new fresh pack of plugs ($2) and re-plugged the hole. It is holding up nicely after 48 hrs, so maybe no replacement would be necessary.
This is a lot of drama for me. Usually I don't have surprise things happen that I'm not prepared for. Actually, we were pretty prepared and didn't have any trouble getting home, fixing it and riding it back home. Its just the next, long term decision that I need to deal with now. Keep or Replace?
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