Help! My A/C Is Not Working!

     I recently asked one of my co-workers in our maintenance department if there was anything that she wished she could say to residents.  After a moment and one devilish grin, she simply stated that she wished she could tell residents to change their air filters. She had taken one too many calls recently about residents’ air conditioning not working properly.  Once a maintenance tech got to the home, the problem turned out to be a dirty air filter and the tenant was then charged for the service call and we can guess how happy that made the residents. So, residents, please change your air filters!  

     Air conditioning units are the biggest luxury item we have in our home and they are also our biggest source of energy consumption.  Understanding their need for proper maintenance will not only save on costly repair bills but will also save you money on your next power bill.

     Central air conditioning units have a part that is called an evaporator.  The evaporator’s job is to absorb heat from the inside of our home and relies on the condenser to reject the heat coming from outside.  This is how we get that nice cold air.  If the evaporator’s coils are dirty, that dirt or dust will act as insulation around the coil and will essentially prevent the evaporator from doing its job. Now there is also a part on the air conditioner called a compressor.  Damage to the compressor, due to poor maintenance, is very bad and very expensive to repair. Simply put, change your air filters.  They will prevent all this bad stuff from happening and will keep you nice and cool all summer long.  Here is a tip:  every time you pay your power bill, replace your air filter.  

     According to the EPA, most people spend about 90% of their time indoors and your indoor air quality is actually more polluted than the outdoor air quality.  There are many different options for air filters out there and they come at many different price levels.  For me, I have a $20 air filter that filters everything from dust mites, pollen, pet hair, mold spores and viruses.  However, our maintenance techs recommend that you purchase the thinnest, cheapest air filter you can find and just change it monthly.  The reason is that the more expensive, longer lasting filters can sometimes be too thick and can actually prevent proper air flow, which in turn will leave your home warmer.  If you need to get rid of other pollutants such as pollen and mold, consider purchasing an air purifier instead of an expensive filter.

     So now that you have bought, hopefully not your first air filter, here are a few tips to installing that new air filter. First, find your return air duct vent.  This is the vent where air pulls air into the vent rather than blowing air out of the vent.  In most new homes, this vent is removable and this is where the air filter will go.  If the air filter is not replaced here, it is probably near or within the unit.  Once you have found where the air filter will go, turn off the A/C.  This is to prevent old dust and dirt from going into the unit while you are changing the filter.  Next, make sure that you have the appropriate size filter.  The size is usually printed on the cardboard of the old filter and if it is not, you will need to measure.  It is important to have a properly fitting air filter because you do not want any air to leak around the filter. Also, be sure to install the air filter in the direction of the air flow.  Find the arrows on the filter and point them in that direction. That’s it!!  See, simple right?

     Remember, your A/C unit is your most valuable appliance during the hot days  of summer.  With a little extra attention, you will stay cool and hopefully save a little money in the end!

Jennifer

How To Take A Vacation

    

     Here I am plugging away at work while my friends and family are enjoying a nice week off at the beach,visiting Harry Potter World and being on a cruise.  Sour grapes?  Absolutely! I often struggle with the thought of taking a long vacation (I prefer long weekends) because (a) I can space my vacation days out over the year, (b) I dread the thought of returning to a thousand e-mails, and (c) I, like many people in today’s workforce, can’t step away from my duties for any extended period of time because I don’t want to appear expendable.  We have seen too many people unexpectedly laid off.  Also, if you were one of those people who did get laid off  and were lucky enough to find a new job, a vacation is the furthest thing from your mind due to insecurity or you simply cannot afford it. 

     Well, enough  with the doom and gloom!  I am here to tell you HOW to take a vacation.  You know, if we stop for a second and see the benefits of taking an extended vacation, you will find that your mental health, life span, and overall self confidence will improve.  Did I mention that you will become a more productive employee?  Seriously, if you plan two week long vacations in a year, you will force yourself to work that much harder the other 50.  Also, a vacation can be seen as a reward for all that hard work. 

     So, how do you take a vacation?  Well, according to lifeclever.com, here is how:

  1. Create a vacation fund – What a clever idea.  Did you know that if you want to take a vacation that costs $2,000 all you need to set aside from your paycheck every two weeks is $77.  I can think of plenty of things that I can live without for $77 every two weeks if a warm, sandy beach is at the end of that goal.
  2. Let your boss and coworkers know early – If you let people know you are going on vacation, then you will actually go on vacation. Also, it gives your boss and any coworkers that will need to cover for you while you are out enough time to reorganize their daily routines to fit your essential work into their schedule.  There is nothing like returning to the office with a statement like, “thank goodness your are back” or “we really missed you”.  It  will not only give your coworkers a glimpse into your daily duties but they will have a greater appreciation of how much you really do contribute to the team.
  3. Don’t ask, declare it – When taking some time off from work, simply state that you are going on vacation.  Don’t ask if it will be OK to go somewhere.  What if they said NO?  You know when your coworkers are going on vacation themselves, and you know what time of the year is the busiest for your office, so plan your timing well and just go for it.
  4. Book your flights and hotels early – Money $aver!!  Booking early will save you money and it makes it a little harder to cancel your plans.
  5. Pack light  – I think that this is a tip that is meant specifically for me. I recently went away for two nights and took 6 outfits.  Oh, you do that too?  If you are like me, I want my vacation to start immediately!  So why spend 1/2 hour lugging suitcases from the car and an hour to get organized in the hotel room?  Not to mention, they are starting to charge for bags on airplanes, so a carry-on is a much cheaper and simpler way to travel.
  6. Leave your Crackberry at home – HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! Ok, this isn’t going to happen but you can at least leave your laptop at home. The rule for your vacation is NO WORK, so leave specific instructions at the office that they may call you ONLY IF the building was set to blow with everyone trapped inside and the only way to save everyone’s life is with the answer to the question they are about to ask you. 
  7. Wear headphones – We are already going deaf anyway, so enjoy some me time.   On long car rides, I personally wear headphones to drown out my noisy kids.  If you hate chit chatting with the person next to you on a plane, the use of headphones is a polite and universal way of saying, “don’t talk to me.”
  8. Don’t plan every minute – Guilty! Vacations are fun and relaxing, not stressful and exhausting.  If the idea is to get rid of stress, then why would you go somewhere that needed an agenda. Relaxing and stepping back into a simpler life, even for your kids, is a great way to spend a vacation.

Ok, there you have it!!  A how-to guide to taking a vacation. So where are you going this year?

Jennifer