About Me

My photo
Cincinnati, OH, United States
A woodworker whom saws to the plane of a different hammer.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Frozen Air Conditioning

Let me reiterate my statement at the beginning of the video. Cleaning the evaporator coils on an AC system is not for the faint of heart, or for the accident prone. If you ding up some of the metal fins on the coils (as I kinda did) that’s not a big deal – unless you ding ALL of them really bad as too many mangled coil fins will restrict the air flow. However, if you puncture a refrigerant line, you will lose the refrigerant in the system and need and HVAC tech, incurring more expense.

Go slow and pay attention to the refrigerant lines.

There are two main reasons why an AC system will freeze over like this. One is restricted air movement caused by the air filter and/or coils can be so dirty that it is restricting air flow. The other is that the AC system is low on coolant. First try changing the air filter. Once you are confident that the air filter is not the problem, the next probable cause is dirty coils. This could be either or both the coils at the condenser outside the house, or the evaporator coil inside the HVAC unit inside the house. Dirty coils at either or both locations means that warm air is not flowing properly over the refrigerant lines inside the coils. Without warm air giving off heat to the coils, the coils will drop below 32 degree F and condensation will freeze on the lines. Over time, then entire system has ice on it. The AC system will basically freeze itself.

In my particular case, the AC system froze over because of a dirty air filter and a dirty evaporator coil.

So I turned off the AC system and just ran the whole house fan and after about an hour the coil had thawed out completely. While that was thawing out I hosed out the coils on the condenser outside. These were just cleaned a year ago by an HVAC tech using commercial grade coil cleaner, so this time I just hosed down the coils, then sprayed a fair amount of Simple Greene on the coils to help loosen up the dirt before I gave them a final rinse. Using a commercial grade coil cleaner too often will erode the finish on the coils and eventually necessitate replacement sooner than would have been necessary otherwise.

If I had the proper tools and refrigerant on hand, I could have removed the refrigerant lines from the evaporator coil and then removed the coil from the HVAC unit. This would have made cleaning the evaporator a lot easier and more thorough. However, that’s … not me, so I had to remove a triangular metal plate in order to get to the underside of the evaporator coil. This was difficult to do because the refrigerant lines were in the way of removing that metal plate easily. So I tried to cut the sheet metal in half with a pair of right-angle tin snips, so that I could remove it in two pieces. However, I couldn’t reach all the way across and I ended up having to shimmy out the sheet metal. I did this by gently lifting the evaporator coil up an inch or two (it is not bolted down), but not much as I did not want to put too much stress on the refrigerant lines. Then I was able to tip the triangular metal piece into the A frame of the evaporator coil. Then, again while lifting the coil up an inch or two, I was able to remove the sheet metal given the available clearance.

The evaporator coil was so dirty it was like a quarter inch thick layer of really nasty, dryer lint – yuck!

Below the A frame on my unit is the heat manifold and I didn’t want to knock all that dirt off and down into the system, so I carefully vacuumed it off by lightly tapping the vacuum duster and allowing the vacuum to do the rest of the work pulling the dirty lint off the coils. I probably could have stopped with that, but to do a thorough job there was still more cleaning to do.

I bought some no rinse evaporator coil cleaner and I sprayed on a heavy layer of that onto the top and bottom side of the evaporator coil. I let that soak in for a while to give it time to eat into the dust inside the coil fins. Even though this is a no rinse cleaner, I used a spray bottle of plain water to expedite the rinsing. I also poured some water into the collection tray to flush the dirt out and down to the drain.

Once the coils were all cleaned up, it was time to put this metal plate back in. I struggled to get that triangular metal sheet back into place and it was only after the job was done and I’m watching myself on video put it back in that I realized – I’m a dummy. Regardless if there was an easier way to remove it, at that point being that it was already removed, I could have finished cutting it in half and made the job of putting it back in a lot easier as two pieces. Duh!

Once the metal plate was screwed back in place I sealed up that cut I made with some aluminum tape.

Then I put everything back together and my house is cool again.

Thanks for watching!

Please take a moment to visit my YouTube channel and like this video, comment, and subscribe!

You have a great day now!

Ray Ladouceur
Dogwood Tales

Monday, March 23, 2015

not worth it

By Dogwood from Cincinnati, OH on 3/23/2015


1out of 5

Pros: Inexpensive

Cons: It's Like Paper, Difficult to align, Impossible to assemble

Best Uses: None

Was this a gift?: No

I find it difficult to align the boards. The boards will snap together with difficulty. Had to shave off the brim on the tongue on the end of each board to get the pieces to go together - otherwise it will not snap together along the length and the end. The paper-facing chips easily. The tongues crush when the boards are tapped into place. I could go on.

I do not expect this stuff to last at all. Imagine putting panels of Ikea sawdust furniture on your floor with it's paper facing. This flooring is marginally better than that. This does NOT have a durable, Formica-like face.

About 75% of the floor is down and I'm very tempted to take it up and go with hardwood. It would be easier for me to install (besides the sanding and finishing, which I can do myself), will be more durable and last decades longer than this crud, and can be refinished.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Hot Water Heater Cleaning and Maintenance and Anode Replacement

My project this weekend was to flush out my hot water heater. This is something that the manufacturer of my hot water heater recommends to be done at least once a year. It can be nasty to think about, but water has more than just water in it especially if you have hard water. All that little stuff, sediment, will settle to the bottom of the hot water tank and over time will accumulate enough down there to cause problems and even complete failure of the hot water tank. Trust me, you don't want to have THAT surprise and lose hot water in the house on a cold January day as I did back in 2009. In this video I share my ... adventure ... in flushing out my hot water heater and replacing the anode as well. I hope you find this to be informative and my shared experience entertaining.

I've had this current hot water heater since then - 5 years! I remembered that an annual flush was recommended,but just didn't get to it. I finally got to it yesterday. Along with that I noticed something in the user's manual about inspecting the anode at least once a year. "Anode?" I wondered. "What is that?" Well, I checked the anode on my now five year old hat water heater and it was sufficiently corroded and in need of replacement. There is more information on the internet about the chemistry behind what the anode does and how it works, but in a nut shell it's a sacrificial rod in the water heater designed to take on the corrosive action of the water, so your hot water heater doesn't have to. It only cost about $25 at the local box store and was as easy to replace as replacing a light bulb. However, the factory puts them in with considerable torque, so since the water heater just sits there and isn't itself bolted down to anything, getting the old anode out is a challenge. I ended up combining my breaker bar with a pipe wrench and a four foot long piece of black iron pipe to give me enough leverage to break the anode free of its torque. Then I just used my breaker bar for about another turn. When doing that I was able to put my weight against the water heater while pulling on the breaker bar. That kept the water heater stable between me and the force of turning the breaker bar. Once it was loose enough to use the ratchet I just used that.

In the above picture there is the old anode next the new anode. Can you tell which one is which, or do I need to point it out to you? As you can see in this picture, the old anode had considerable corrosion. However, believe it or not, it still probably had another year of life left in it. Being that I already had a replacement anode on hand and that I believe in erring on the side of caution, I replaced the old anode with the new one.

One thing to keep in mind is that if you have a water softener (I do not) it may shorten the life of the anode. From what I read from various sources on the internet it is not because it makes the water soft. It's because of the salt used to make the water soft. So if you use a water softener, be sure to check the anode at least once a year and don't wait five years as I did.

Flushing the hot water heater once a year and replacing the anode as needed is a lot easier and cheaper than replacing a water heater that decides to blow it's top on a cold winter day in January. It's not that hard to do and doesn't require the use of any dangerous power tools (I used a cordless drill to remove some screws in this video), so relax and have your favorite ... beverage while you're at it.

Save time, money, and hassle and order your anode ahead of time from Amazon.

Ray Ladouceur
Dogwood Tales

Saturday, February 16, 2013

That's Hard Stuff!

Solvent 17 is not exactly exotic, but is a great stripper nonetheless. But there's still something on these spindles that it just wouldn't dissolve. Whatever those spots are made of it's hard stuff that I had to scrape and chip off with my scrappers. Then follow up with more scrubbing with the wire brush. I wouldn't be as worried about the appearance if it was not visible, but this is on a stair case and so it's visible as one looks up into the staircase.

Ray Ladouceur

Need Some Tool Organizamajiggers

It's no secret. I am a slob. But in my defense, when it comes to working on things at a job site and not in my own workshop it's difficult for me to keep things neat and organized when I don't have better tool boxes, bags and other organizers...

Who am I trying to kid. I'm a slob in my workshop too.

I guess I need some better organizing stuff in my shop too - lol.

Honestly, though, I am looking for ideas/suggestions.

Ray Ladouceur

Solvent 17

Solvent 17

I was having trouble getting all this old finish off the spindles to the staircase I'm refinishing. The more generic stuff from the home center wasn't cutting it well. Sanding and scrapping alone works okay, but still is not sufficient or efficient. There must be at least three layers of stuff on these spindles evidenced by the various colors I see as I cut through to the bare wood.

So I called Cincinnati Color Co. and asked for their advise. They recommended a product they carry called Solvent 17. So I tried an internet search for "Solvent 17 stripper" which brought up a few, how should I say? ... unintended results.

I picked up this Solvent 17 from Cincinnati Color Co. yesterday and I must say this is the best, um, stripper I've ever seen or worked with. There is still something under the finish that does not respond well to even this solvent 17 and small specs of it are left behind to be scrapped off. I think it may be some kind of compound or maybe even a heavily leaded paint. Outside of that little nuisance I can gladly say that Solvent 17 is so good it will take the old off your grandma.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Delectible Find - for a woodworker

Today I started refinishing a set of steps and the handrail in the rectory of an old German Catholic Parish.
I started with the post. I tried using lacquer thinner and stripper to remove the old finish and stain.
Whatever is there is tough stuff as it didn't respond well to either one. Although the lacquer thinner proved to be more effective.
Here is the post as it was when I started.

I think that there may be more than one type of finish involved. This is very likely as there was probably three different layers of stuff I could see as I was stripping off the old finish. When it comes to the how of how to strip off an old finish there is typically some sort of a solvent involved. But in the end it comes down to good ol' elbow grease - especially when you have something like this and you want to preserve the original detail of the moldings.

At any rate, take a look at this! I stripped off the old finish with a plan to simply refinish with a gel stain and look what I found!

I believe this is a type of figured maple, such as birds eye maple. It's not exactly like the birds eye maple I've seen before, but very close to it.

And here is a slightly closer look at the figured grain.

It seems to me that the original intent was that this figured grain was to be shown off because it's on all eight sides of the post. Over time and improper refinishing it somehow ended up be covered and forgotten. Pity - but a sweet find for me today! I am making changes to my refinishing plan now. This post will soon be the woodworking highlight of the hallway.

Ray Ladouceur