Thursday, June 6, 2013

Checking and Replacing Your A/C Filter

How to Check and Replace Your Air Conditioning Filter

Photo courtesy of mbschn
The filter is one of the most important components of the air conditioning unit. Regularly replacing the filter (every few months or so) not only helps the air conditioner to continue running efficiently - by keeping dust and debris out of the unit's inner workings - but doing so also ensures you're keeping allergens and irritants out of the circulating indoor air. Follow these simple instructions and you'll discover how easy and how fast changing the A/C filter can be.

1) Locate the Filter

This seems like a logical first step. First, you have to find it. Each type of air conditioning unit has a different location for the air filter. The filter may be located near the furnace and filter compartment or near the thermostat. The filter is covered by a metal guard that slides out and square vented panel which will need to be unscrewed for access.

2) Determine the Filter Size

Different air conditioning units use different size filters. The size for the filter should be located on the side and will appear in inches.

3) Choose a Replacement Filter

There are several different types of filters to choose from. 
  • Fiberglass filters are inexpensive and attract dust, but need to be replaced every 30 days.
  • Pleated filters can be replaced less often at 90 days, but may easily become clogged with dust before then.
  • HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters work well for households with family members who suffer from allergies from pet dander, mold and other irritants.
  • Electrostatic filters remove dust and debris, but are also effective for removing odors from smoke and mildew. These filters are reusable and just need to be cleaned with water on a regular schedule.

The chosen air filter should fit in the air conditioning unit snugly and maintain the efficiency of the unit.

4) Identify Air Flow Direction

In order to make sure that the filter is being replaced correctly, note the direction of the air flow on the side of the old filter. Using a permanent marker to draw the air flow direction on the metal guard offers an easy reference for future filter changes.

5) Replace the Filter

Take out the old filter and slide in the new one, keeping in mind the air flow direction. The filter should fit snugly for maximum efficiency.

6) Replace the Metal Guard and Panel

Slide the metal guard back to its original position and screw the vented panel back into the wall.

When to Change the Air Conditioning Filter

It is recommended that most air filters be changed or cleaned once every 30 days to once every three months. However, the replacement rate really depends on a number of factors.

For example, the more efficient filters capture more dust particles and indoor contaminants than less efficient filters. Thus, they need to be replaced or cleaned more often to keep the air conditioning unit working efficiently.

Finally, homes that have pets or family members that smoke indoors will also benefit by replacing their air conditioning filters more often. Further, if a family member suffers from allergies caused by pollen or dust, replacing the filters more frequently will reduce the amount of indoor air pollutants in the home.

-- Doug

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Basic DIY Tools Everyone Should Be Familiar With

Basic DIY Tools Everyone Should Be Familiar With

The right tool can make any DIY project easier.  Before starting your next project, ensure that you won't have to make an emergency run to the hardware store by stocking your garage with the most essential tools.

1.      Adjustable Wrench

An adjustable wrench features an expandable jaw, allowing you to tighten several different bolts with the same wrench.  Most wrenches are ideally suited to certain bolt shapes and sizes; you'll need a wrench to fit each type of bolt that you'll be using.

2.      Electric Drill

With an electric drill, you can painlessly create holes in a number of materials, including wood, masonry and drywall.  You can also use your drill to drive screws into tough materials.  A cordless drill will make it easy for you to tackle a project in any part of your home or yard. A corded drill will give you enough power to tackle tougher materials.

3.      Hammer

A hammer is a critical tool for most DIY projects, from hanging art to creating aquarium stands.  A regular claw hammer will allow you to remove misplaced nails. If you need to demolish a wall, a sledge hammer is an essential tool.

4.      Handsaw

Handsaws are critical for any project using wood, such as building bookcases.  A handsaw isn't as strong as a table saw, but it's much more difficult to injure yourself with a handsaw.  Additionally, a handsaw is portable, allowing you to make precision, last-minute cuts as necessary.

5.      Level

If you're building shelves or a furniture piece, you need a level to ensure that your joints are even.  If you fail to use a level, your project may wobble, fall apart or simply look unprofessional.

6.      Pliers

Pliers come in a variety of different styles to suit different needs.  Needle-nose pliers are excellent for working with small objects or in tight corners.  Wire-cutting pliers are essential for any wiring project.  Locking pliers work as an extra hand to hold your materials in place.

8.      Screwdriver
A manual screwdriver with interchangeable heads is a versatile tool that is useful for almost any building project.  Without a bulky motor, you can use this tool to tighten screws in cramped quarters. You can also invest in an elaborate set of replaceable heads to drive every available screw size.

9.      Tape Measure

A tape measure will help you properly measure wood and other materials before you make any cuts.  This vital tool will prevent you from making foolish mistakes.  Buy a metallic tape measure to avoid a drooping tape when you're trying to measure long distances.

11.  Utility Knife

For making small, precise cuts, few tools are as handy as utility knives.  Keep some replacement blades on hand so that you can always have a sharp blade in your utility knife.

These are just some of the bare essentials you'll need as a DIY homeowner. As you live in your home and make repairs and improvements your skill set will grow. As your skill set grows, so will your tool inventory. Consequently, your garage space will shrink. So be advised, somewhere up the road one of your major projects might be to build a tool shed.    

-- Doug

Thursday, April 18, 2013

DIY: Caulking The Bathroom Tile

Caulking Bathroom Tile

It’s inevitable.  At some point, one area or another in your bathroom shower will suffer lose tiles or the grout or caulking will get nasty. All the scrubbing in the world gives you little to no result, which means it is time to remove that caulking and replace it. In the case of loose or missing tiles there are a couple of extra steps, but the general process is the same.
The only way to learn how to caulk bathroom tile properly is to simply do it. All the verbal or written instruction in the world is worthless if the job is left to theory. So roll up your sleeves and get cracking.
You will first need to figure out what you need to replace. Is the grout broken through? You may need to replace that. Is the caulking made of silicone or some other material? This point is important because depending on the material that you are removing, you can find a caulk remover to make the job easier.
Baby steps to get you started include properly cleaning and prepping the work area:
  • You need to thoroughly clean soap scum and dirt from the tile surfaces.
  • Next, remove the old caulking and then clean yet again by vacuuming away all dust and debris from the work area.
  • Next, you should use denatured alcohol to assure the surface is completely free of anything.
  • All surfaces must be completely and totally dry before you begin applying the caulk.
  • Once you know what type of caulking you need, whether it is silicone or PVA, you should apply a small bead to the joints between the tiles. Start small and spread with a moist finger. It is easier to spread a little bit than it is to remove excess. So don’t use too much too quickly. Make sure there are no air pockets.
  • After the job is completed, clean any excess before the caulking can begin to dry. Once it dries it is there permanently.
  • Keep the shower dry overnight and preferably for 24 hours before allowing the area to get wet.

New caulking makes a big difference in the clean appearance of your tiles. Invest the time and you’ll be glad you did.

-- Doug Harris