No room for Air conditioners

Living in the heart of the city can be a lot of fun.  There is always something going on and most of the items that you need are within walking distance for the most part.  I love the fact that I don’t even need to own a car because public transportation can take me to work and back, shopping to outlying areas, and even to the beach.  I live is a Southern city so I can take advantage of outdoor activities almost year round. Living where I do did present a problem when I first moved because the Apartment that I bought did not have central air.  The previous owners had just used window units and I found them to be ugly and noisy. Because I had purchased the place, I was free to make any changes that I wanted to. It was luckily on the ground floor so I had easy access to the outside. I had heard about the benefits of mini-split air conditioners before and felt this may be the perfect solution. The evaporator, which is hung up high on an interior wall connects to a small condenser which is located outside. The only thing required is a small  hole that is drilled to the outside to connect the two units together. These systems can effectively cool an apartment or small home with little cost and maintenance once they are installed. The purchase price of these units varies depending upon the strength and size and can be high, however, they are very fuel efficient and I figured it would improve the property value if I ever decided to sell.

ductless a/c

Drive to our vacations spot, less than relaxing

We were all set to go on or summer vacation.  I had arranged for pet care, stopped the mail, and even had a neighbor coming by to water the plants.  I packed everything the night before into the back of the car except for the food that needed refrigeration.  We all piled into the car and settled in for the four hour trip. We had gotten about an hour down the road when we noticed that there was a strange odor in the car.  At first, I blamed our son as he had taken off his shoes, but it was more like a chemical smell. My husband pulled off the road at the next exit to find a repair shop.  When we pulled in, the kids piled out and headed into the store next door. I waited with my husband to see what the problem was with the car. The mechanic took a quick look at the engine and quickly realized that we had a major leak in our refrigerant for the HVAC unit.  This would account for the smell that we had noticed. At first, my husband said that we would just do without it, but, the mechanic said that we really couldn’t do that. EPA regulations require that you have any coolant that is leaking be repaired because of its harmful effects of the OZONE layer.  It is also unhealthy for people to breathe in the leaking gases. My first thought was that I didn’t want to drive another three hours in a hot car with complaining kids. The mechanic said that he could have the system fixed in an hour or so. We gathered up the kids and walked to a local diner to have an early lunch.  It was nice to pass the time in an air conditioned space anyway.

Installing an air conditioner in my garage

I’ve always enjoyed weight training. From an early age in high school, I’ve been pretty strong for my height, so I’ve been able to excel in various sports as well. Even now, over a decade after my high school days, I still try to train every day of the week. Living where I do, there’s almost no gyms I can access, so I decided to buy weight training equipment to keep in my garage. It’s awesome! I have full access to my own private gym, which I use at any time I want. People say it’s foolish to have a home gym, but I beg to differ. I even have a heavy bag for boxing training when I need to do more cardio. Still, one thing I don’t like about training in my garage is how hot it gets. I didn’t mind training in the heat at first, but then I began to see how the heat was creating condensation on all my training equipment, which was causing the iron to rust! I knew, with the money I invested in all my training equipment, I had to make sure I took care of it. At this point I decided to invest in an air conditioner for my garage. I’m fortunate to have a single window in my garage, which allows me to use a window unit instead of an in-the-wall unit which could have been more costly. I went out and bought a window air conditioner, which came with the sealing kit that would allow me to keep the cool air in. After a few hours of fastening, tinkering and laboring, I was able to get the window unit installed and running. What a difference that thing made! I only use it when I’m in the garage for training, but it makes the garage infinitely more bearable to train in. With this addition, I’m feeling up to training twice a day!

Using an extension cord to power my heater – big mistake

People do all kinds of crazy things to get warm in the winter. One of my friends recently installed a towel warming rack in his bathroom. He said it functioned like a small space heater, and also gave him warm towels to stay comfortable when he got out of the shower. Meanwhile, my sisters started putting rocks on the stove, heating them up and putting them in bags around the house to emit heat. That one definitely takes the cake for being strange, but I think I won this winter’s award for being the biggest fool. I’ve been told all my life that space heaters are dangerous, and I never understood why! I have two in my house, and I’ve never had an incident with either of them. Maybe it’s because I bought space heaters that aren’t from a bargain bin at the supermarket, but who knows. Anyway, one of them actually broke down on me last week, and I’ve had to start moving my only space heater around to warm the room I spend my days in during the week. I loved my other space heater the most because the power cord was so long, but this space heater has a very short cord. What does anyone do when they need more cord to power something up? They use an extension cord, right? Well, apparently that’s something you’re never supposed to do! Extension cords provide a limited amount of power, so they aren’t supposed to be used with high-demand gadgets like flat-screen TVs, gaming systems, and – you guessed it – space heaters. I learned this lesson the hard way, as I plugged the extension cord into my bedroom wall, plugged the space heater into the cord, and went to bed. I woke up in the middle of the night to a strange crackling sound, and that’s when I saw my space heater shooting sparks all over the carpet! I leapt out of bed and flew to tug the power cord out of the wall. I managed to unplug the system, but the cord gave my hand several burns in the process.

gas heater

Dream house has terrible ducts

Our dream house turned out to be a money pit. If it wasn’t for the fact that many of my wife’s siblings are in the construction business, we might have ended up homeless. I blame myself, of course, for not doing a proper inspection of the place before we paid for it. The price was so good, and the view of the lake from the back deck is so breathtaking, that we got swept up in the moment and made a bad purchase. From the first day we moved in, we noticed how the place was slowly falling apart. One major mistake we made was in not checking out the HVAC system before making the purchase. We did not even bother to switch on the thermostat and make sure the air conditioning was working, which we soon found out it was not. The central AC system was quite dead, and nothing we did to the thermostat got it to turn on even for a second. Upon further inspection, I found that most of the ductwork was dirty and filled with the leavings of forest animals. I guess the squirrels and chipmunks loved to make nests in the air ducts, so it looked like most of the ductwork would have to be ripped out and replaced. At least we could sit out on the rear deck and rest while the gentle lake breezes were cooling us off. Once the winter rolls around, though, we will need a dependable source of heating or we will be in trouble, because our furnace doesn’t work either.  

a/c ducts

Transitioning into AC work

Every story has a beginning, middle, and end. The problem is that we never know where we are in our own ongoing stories, not until much later. For a couple of years I thought that working at the pizza place and delivering pies around town was my entire story. It turns out that I wasn’t in the middle of my story, I was still in the beginning. I don’t believe that my story actually hit the second phase until I decided to leave the pizza place and start to building a real career for myself. I started working day shift, so that at night I could take classes for my HVAC certification. I was not aware that all heating and  cooling techs need such specific training, not just to perform repairs but also to understand the science behind HVAC systems. After delivering pizzas for eight hours a day I would go to the night class where a retired AC repair tech taught lessons. Air conditioners and furnaces are remarkably complex machines, and although it was difficult I really did find the subject fascinating. Six months later I finished the classes, and was able to pass the HVAC certification test on the first try. Instead of applying for several jobs, I went straight to the office of the town’s only female HVAC contractor and asked her directly for a job. I told her how meeting with her had inspired me to better myself and get into the HVAC industry, and she was so touched she hired me right on the spot.

air conditioning worker

It’s Too Hot

There has been a lot of blathering on television over global warming over the recent years, but something that is actually not up for debate is that the Earth is getting warmer. Whether or not it is man made I do not want to get into, but the end result is the same and I have noticed the difference. I live down south where it is already pretty hot during the summer, but over the last six or seven years, I have noticed it has been getting warmer and staying that way for long. The local record of temperatures confirms this feeling, so I don’t need to listen to what some paid actor on one of the news stations has to say about it. That said, it is getting too hot for me here and I need to relocate to more temperate climates. The air conditioner has been running nonstop for the past two years and I find it increasingly difficult to take on outdoor tasks and activities. I am getting a little older so maybe that has something to do with it, but I’m not really as concerned with the causes as I am with the solutions. I would much rather have to deal with using a furnace to keep me nice and temperate than having to blast an air conditioner to barely keep cool. I work from home so there is no problem with me having to relocate. As long as there is an internet signal and decent HVAC, then I am set. Perhaps I should just move to the North Pole and live in an igloo.

HVAC corp

Going on a trip

With the winter season in full bloom my ability to deal with pretty much anything has quickly dwindled down to nothing. It is just a thing that happens to me every winter where I become super irritable and want to lash out at everyone. I have tried taking extra vitamin D, have gone to doctors and even looked into crazy cures like Reiki. Nothing has helped in the slightest, and it seems to get worse with each passing year. One method where I have managed to find a bit of relief is to simply leave town for a week or two and travel somewhere further south where the climate is more moderate. It’s really amazing how quickly the doom and gloom pass once I am in a warmer climate. I tried to simulate a warmer climate at home by cranking up the thermostat on the furnace to the maximum, but it just was not the same. I just ended up sitting around sweating in the house while staring angrily at the snow falling outside the window. It seems only the real thing will work for reducing my inner rage. I am heading on my yearly sabbatical in a couple weeks and I cannot wait. I am heading to a place near the ocean so I can relax on the beach. The cooling waters of the ocean feel so much better than an air conditioner ever could. Perhaps one of these days I’ll find the perfect place to live in where I wouldn’t need any HVAC equipment because the weather is perfect.

climate control

Moving On

I’ve been employed at the same company since high school and I still love what I do. I am in the HVAC business and have worked my way up over the past twenty years from a lowly grunt to a general manager. It has been a wild ride and altogether too quick for my tastes, but luckily I still have a long way to go before it is all over. There actually is a new position opening up in the company that I am thinking about taking. It would mean having to move out of state to the new location opening up down south. The company is expanding because of all the air conditioning work needed down there. Down south the weather gets horribly hot during the summer and people need to be able to get somewhere indoors that is air conditioned if they become overheated. I would be running the entire operation down there if I take the position, and the owner and CEO are pushing me to do it. It would be a great move for me and since I have no family up here there isn’t much upheaval involved in the move. Being in charge of my own HVAC shop does sound pretty awesome the more I think about it, and there really are no negatives to moving down there that I can think of. I suppose the only questions of doubt that I have about taking this HVAC leadership role is being the guy in charge. Everything falls on my shoulders and that kind of responsibility can be scary.

furnace tune up

A New Career Path

Times are tough and finding a way to make a good paycheck isn’t always easy. I was employed at a machine shop until recently when I was laid off, and now I am trying something new. I am going to trade school to learn the HVAC business. Unlike manufacturing, HVAC is a service industry job, so there should always be customers and therefore work to do. The program I’m in is a year long and at the end, I will receive a certificate of completion. On top of that, a few of the different local HVAC companies work with the program and scout talent from it. The top performers in the class will likely not even have to look for a job. They will be employed right out of the gate. The class itself is pretty intense and involves a lot of technical details about furnaces, air conditioners, ducts, pipes, and all the other components that are part of the HVAC business. Yesterday we were taking a furnace completely apart and putting it back together again, which was pretty awesome. I think it is a much better way to learn how a piece of machinery works. I read about this study that showed that people remember things more vividly when they involve multiple senses in the process. I am very excited about this new opportunity in my life to become an HVAC technician and have some more job security. Thankfully I was able to get unemployment after being laid off so I can focus entirely on this adventure I am on. Otherwise, it might have never happened.

central HVAC