April 19, 2006

Musty AC

Big Problem: Our apartment's air conditioning unit is giving off a musty smell.

Bigger Problem: The apartment maintenance guy came to clean the coils but did a piss-poor job; musty smell is still there.

Biggest Problem: My roommate is allergic to molds.

I took a look at the AC coils (the tubes containing freon that cools the attached fins that cools the air that flows through). OHMYGAWD! Many of the fins were sqwooshed flat (most likely from the last maintenance job, obviously long before we moved in), not to mention the mold and mildew growing all over the thing! I don't want to imagine what's cultivating behind the flattened fins! No wonder the apartment smells like a rain forest everytime the AC comes on!

Here's where my OCD kicked in. I had to straighten out all the fins and clean out all the mold! [I need to do this. And I need to do it now!]

My first challenge was what tool to use to un-flatten the flattened fins. [Tool - yes! I love tools!] Checked my tool cabinet and there was this putty knife. Tried that but it felt awkward -- not ergonomic.

Maybe I'll find a better tool in the... uhm... kitchen drawer. Found a plastic knife... that should work.

After a few un-flattened fins, I felt the upper edge of the knife was too wide -- some fins didn't straighten out nicely.

Back to the kitchen drawer. AHA! The orange peeler! Excellent. That worked.

When I finally straightened out all the fins, the next task was to clean out the gunk. Bought two implements to make this happen: a coil cleaner (foaming detergent in a spray can), and a water pump.

I sprayed the coils with the cleaner and used the water pump to flush out the loosened dirt.

I poked with the orange peeler and brushed with a bristle brush (some of the resident fungi were pretty well-anchored!), and flushed with water for almost two hours. Okay, more than three hours. I was surprised my ADD hadn't pulled me away sooner.

When it felt like I had fished out about a pound of moss and seaweed, I sprayed foam cleaner one last time, flushed with water one final round, and let my ADD take over. [I need to check my emails!] (Sometimes it's tough to have OCD and ADD at the same time.)

The coils don't look brand new (some stains are permanent), but I think I did a pretty good job -- certainly a lot better than that maintenance guy. Now to see if the roommate's histamine agrees with me.


Unknown said...

I just figured out this in my house I rent. I've probably been sick for the last two years cuz of this. Thanks.
Mine is black and dirty/moldy.
Window units are always bad but I thought central AC was self cleaning. I was wrong.

Unknown said...

Mine is the same way. Yuck...heater AC guy acts like he doesn't ever see those get dirty..ya right...