Electrical Contacts & Terminals

Dirt and corrosion can reduce the electrical current in a circuit, and is the cause of many problems with small appliances.

Tools & Chemicals:
Sandpaper, a file, an emery board, or steel wool are all effective tools to clean contacts and terminals. Solvents, compressed air, and some spray on lubricants are effective ways to remove debris and prevent subsequent fouling.

Be sure the appliance is unplugged before proceeding with any electrical work. Shock or death can result from working on live circuits. Depending on the surface, use which ever tool seems most appropriate. The objective is to remove the dirt or corrosion to allow the electrical current to flow uninhibited. Once the offending buildup is removed, a touch of spray lubricant or even petroleum jelly can prevent subsequent buildups.

Spring Air Conditioners

This should be done every month while the unit is being used regularly:

Air conditioners may cool your body, but if you’re not careful they can burn your pocketbook. To make sure your window unit is running at its most efficient, unplug it and open it up for inspection. Immediately inside the air conditioner’s grille, you’ll find a filter, which should be cleaned regularly with soap and water, or replaced if it’s ripped or otherwise damaged. Just behind the filter lie the evaporator fins, which frequently get layered with dust; simply vacuum them off. Now, put the unit back together and go back to “thinking cool thoughts,” legendary pitcher/pundit Satchel Paige’s cure for hot weather.

Courtesy of True Value Hardware

If the unit is very dirty, or has not been serviced for several seasons, it may require a more thorough cleaning.

Remove it from wall sleeve or if smaller unit remove complete a/c unit.If it does not have a sleeve remove all screws to remove outer casing.

Use good duct tape to seal all switches on front of unit. Use plastic to cover fan motor and duct tape plastic into place. Spray evaporator coil and condenser coil with garden hose, and let water drain for a couple minutes. Next spray oven general purpose cleaner on evaporation coil and condenser coil. Let it set for 20 minutes and then rinse it clean. It will be necessary to do the same with the evaporator blower wheel. Keep in mind that the air flow on the condenser may be from blades through the back of the unit, instead of through the condenser towards compressor.

If the fan motor has oil ports, remove the caps after cleaning and place 10 drops of oil into opening, then re-install caps back into position. It is best to blow out all components with compressed air afterwards. Let unit sit for 24 hours to dry before using.

Air Conditioning and Cooling Info for DoItYourselfers

It might surprise you to know that buying a bigger room air conditioning unit won’t necessarily make you feel more comfortable during the hot summer months. In fact, a room air conditioner that’s too big for the area it is supposed to cool will perform less efficiently and less effectively than a smaller, properly sized unit.

This is because room units work better if they run for relatively long periods of time than if they are continually, switching off and on. Longer run times allow air conditioners to maintain a more constant room temperature. Running longer also allows them to remove a larger amount of moisture from the air, which

lowers humidity and, more importantly, makes you feel more comfortable.

Sizing is equally important for central air-conditioning systems, which need to be sized by professionals. If you have a central air system in your home, set the fan to shut off at the same time as the cooling unit (compressor). In other words, don’t use the system’s central fan to provide circulation, but instead use circulating fans in individual rooms.

Cooling Tips

Whole-house fans help cool your home by pulling cool air through the house and exhausting warm air through the attic. They are effective when operated at night and when the outside air is cooler than the inside.

Set your thermostat as high as comfortably possible in the summer. The less difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be. Don’t set your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you turn on your air conditioner. It will not cool your home any faster and could result in excessive cooling and, therefore, unnecessary expense.

Set the fan speed on high except in very humid weather. When it’s humid, set the fan speed on low. You’ll get better cooling, and slower air movement through the cooling equipment allows it to remove more moisture from the air, resulting in greater comfort.

Consider using an interior fan in conjunction with your window air conditioner to spread the cooled air more effectively through your home without greatly increasing your power use.

Don’t place lamps or TV sets near your air-conditioning thermostat. The thermostat senses heat from these appliances, which can cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary.

Plant trees or shrubs to shade air-conditioning units but not to block the airflow. A unit operating in the shade uses as much as 10% less electricity than the same one operating in the sun.

Tips for Lowering Your Central Air Conditioner’s Energy Usage

Set your thermostat at 78 F or higher. Each degree setting below 78 F will increase energy consumption by approximately 8%.

Be careful, however, that if you’re A/C is oversized the diminished run-time from raising the thermostat setting may result in too-high indoor humidity in some locations.

Use bath and kitchen fans sparingly when the air conditioner is operating to avoid pulling warm, moist air into your home. Inspect and clean both the indoor and outdoor coils.

he indoor coil in your air conditioner acts as a magnet for dust because it is constantly wetted during the cooling season. Dirt build-up on the indoor coil is the single most common cause of poor efficiency.

The outdoor coil must also be checked periodically for dirt build-up and cleaned if necessary.

Check the refrigerant charge. The circulating fluid in your air conditioner is a special refrigerant gas that is put in when the system is installed. If the system is overcharged or undercharged with refrigerant, it will not work properly. You will need a service contractor to check the fluid and adjust it appropriately.

Reduce the cooling load by using cost-effective conservation measures. For example, effectively shade east and west windows. When possible, delay heat-generating activities, such as cooking and dishwashing, until evening on hot days.

Over most of the cooling season, keep the house closed tight during the day. Don’t let in unwanted heat and humidity. Ventilate at night either naturally or with fans.

Why Buy An Energy Efficient Room Air Conditioner?

High-efficiency room air conditioners save money on your utility bills. High-efficiency room air conditioners result in fewer environmentally harmful emissions. An average air conditioned home consumes more than 2000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year for cooling, causing about 3,500 pounds of carbon dioxide and 31 pounds of sulfur dioxide to be emitted by the power plant.

At average electricity prices, that costs about $150.

A high-efficiency A/C unit can reduce energy consumption (and environmental emissions) by 20% to 50%. The most efficient air conditioners on the market are up to 70% more efficient than the current average room air conditioner.

Central Air Conditioning

Exterior Evaporator Unit

Turn off the electrical power to the outside condenser/compressor unit.

Cut weeds, grass and bushes within 24 inches of your condenser unit.  Vacuum the fins on the exterior of the condenser unit with a soft brush. Vacuum around the entire unit to remove any leaves and other debris that has built up in or around the fins.  Using a dinner knife or a specialized fin comb to gently apply pressure to damaged or bent fins and straighten them out. Don’t insert the knife more than a half inch into the fins or you risk damaging the coils inside.  Remove the fan from the top of your condenser/compressor unit by unscrewing the top grille. Lift the fan out and manually remove any leaves or debris that have collected inside the unit.  A vacuum might be the easiest option, but use extreme caution to NOT damage any of the components with the steel vacuum wand.  Wipe down the inside of the unit with a damp cloth. Use a garden hose to spray the fins from the inside out, using a fair amount of water pressure. Place the fan back in the unit and fasten the screws to secure the top.  Turn the power back on and set your indoor thermostat to “Cool” to allow the compressor unit to cycle on.

Interior Evaporator Unit

Turn off the power to your furnace before you start cleaning the indoor evaporator unit.

Open the main blower compartment of your furnace and remove the filter. If it’s disposable, replace it with a new one. If it’s reusable, place it in a tub and cover it with water and add a little laundry detergent to create some suds and let it soak for about 15 minutes. Rinse with a shower head from both sides and allow to air dry before re-installing the filter back in the furnace unit.  Use a vacuum with a soft brush attachment to suck up any dust in the blower compartment. If the motor has lubrication ports, add a few drops of electric motor oil into each port to keep them running smoothly.  Locate the plastic condensation drain tube and pull it off the drain port. If there is algae growth inside, mix one part bleach and 16 parts water into a solution and pour it into the tube. If flushing doesn’t remove the dirt, replace the tube.  Clean grime and dirt out of the drain port with a pipe cleaner. Put the drain tube back onto the port and turn your main power switch back on.  Give yourself about a half day to clean your air conditioning unit if you’re doing it for the first time.  Try to clean your air conditioning unit when the temperature is about 60 degrees Fahrenheit so you can be certain it will cycle on once the cleaning is complete.  Consult your owner’s manual for any special cleaning instructions that apply to your unit.

The Skinny on Brooms

Cleaning Brooms

Make your next broom your last… Some ideas to make your brooms last longer and do a better job.

1. Always use a holder to keep the broom stored off the floor or store with the broom side up. (Resting on the floor the fibers will flatten and reduce the effectiveness of the broom).

2. Comb out the fibers regularly to remove debris.

3. Brooms and dustpan can be cleaned with mild detergent and water; this is a good job for your spouse if they forget your birthday.

4. Always sweep gently in order to let the bristles do the work.

5. Push broom blocks have two handle holes (one on each side). Change the sides often so that fibers wear evenly.

6. The correct length for a broom handle is from the floor to the bridge of your nose. Remember to sweep in an upright position to prevent back fatigue.

Water Heaters

How to Flush Out Your Water Heater

  1. Locate and shut off the power source (circuit breaker or fuses) for electric water heaters only; but leave the water supply on. Gas and LP supply valves for non-electric heaters can be left on.
  2. For natural gas and propane (LP) water heaters, make a note of what the temperature setting is and then turn the thermostat (large red dial on the front of the control) to the lowest setting (pilot). If you plan to use the water for other purposes, turn the heat off ahead of time and allow the water to cool (overnight) before draining. Open a faucet closest to the water heater, like the bathroom.
  3. Attach a garden hose to the drain cock located at the bottom of the heater. The drain cock usually looks like a regular hose bib (garden faucet) or a round dial with a threaded hole in the middle. (The drain cock may be hidden under a removable cover.)
  4. Extend the garden hose to a place where the water can safely exit the heater (e.g. a drain, a driveway, etc.). This water is perfect for watering the yard with, once cooled. If you plan ahead, the water can be cool and usable.
  5. Open the drain cock to allow the water to exit the heater. Caution: the water leaving the heater will be hot and under normal household water pressure. Also note that if the drain cock is made of plastic and the heater is several years old, it may be difficult to open and may break easily if forced.
  6. After five minutes of flushing, fill a bucket with the still flushing water.
  7. Allow the water in the bucket to stand undisturbed for a minute and see if the water is clear or if any sand-like material settles to the bottom. If the water is clear and no sand-like material is observed, go on to step 8. If the water is discolored and/or sand-like material is observed at the bottom of the bucket, repeat steps 5 and 6 until the flush water is completely clear and free of sediment.
  8. Close the drain cock and remove the garden hose.
  9. Turn on the electrical circuit breaker or return the gas control to the setting it was previously at and allow ample time for the water to heat back up.

Enjoy the clean water and the longer-lasting, more efficient water heater!


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