There is always something new to learn. A new horizon to befriend…especially for the homeowner.  And where I live, in just the past week, both my heat AND my air-conditioning have gone on.  Fickle spring weather?  Climate change?  Doesn’t matter…I still have to cope.

artwork by Lisa Z LindahlAfter over 40 years in Vermont, I know about cold weather. I know, for instance, how to shovel snow. I don’t particularly like to, but I know how. I even have a preference about which sort

of snow shovels are better. (The ones with crooked handles.) I know there are tools especially designed to remove snow from roofs, and ice from sidewalks. There are even sharp, clumsy looking cleats you can strap on over your shoes or winter boots so you won’t slip on that pesky snow or ice. I know about all these things.

But I am still learning about the seasonal changes, their nuances, here in the south.  I am largely ignorant about how to cope in the hot and humid southern weather. I know nothing about air conditioning, specifically, air conditioner filters.

I was surprised, after living here in a Southern state for three years, to learn that I should have changed those filters! Who knew? In fact, I was informed by the sincere young a/c repairman, that every 3 months was preferable. Oh. Frankly, I’d forgotten I even had them; no alarm had gone off or anything, even after 3 years.

So I took a look.   The cardboard throw-away ones were easy. The size was printed very big on the side, which was visible once I scraped off the layer of gray dust bunny-like stuff that had crept around that edge.   So I just had to go buy another! But then I noticed that the 3 vents in the house were all different sizes. How inconvenient is that? Poor planning I ranted to anyone who would listen.

This time it was a nice young neighbor, born and raised here, who explained to me the relationship between square footage and vent size and placement. Oh.

Well, but not all my a/c filters were those cardboard ones. It turned out I had some sort of “microstatic” reusable somethings in a couple of the vents. I was supposed to clean and re-install these.

Okay; but there were no directions on how to clean said items.  And boy! were they filthy. I only knew just how dirty because there was one corner in the larger filter that wasn’t quite clogged up yet; I could see through it, and see all the pieces of yuk shaking around while trapped in its reusable screen grid.

So using my common sense I tried vacuuming it. And vacuuming it. And then with a different brush head, I tried vacuuming it. All to absolutely no avail. I googled “how to clean re-usable air conditioner filters” and found nothing. Evidently this is so self-evident it is not even on You Tube. Hesitantly I took the smaller of the two reusable filters to the kitchen sink and tried water. I used the sink hose on it for a looong time. As I suspected, it all just turned to mud in all those tiny screen chambers in there.

I was beginning to wish for the old Vermont me who knew what she was doing.

I gave up and went to the local bargain store to replace the cardboard one. While there I looked at the packaging for the reusable kind and, Voila! finally saw some directions – in tiny print – for cleaning them. Hose. Outdoor hose. Full throttle. OK! Success!

Except…when I got home I realized that I had bought the wrong size throw-away filter. …Heavy sigh.

However I spent a joyful hour spraying the heck out of those reusable screens, watching over 3 years of accumulated crap wash out onto my patio stones. I made a concerted effort not to think of what I had been breathing in in my oh-so-very-closed-up-in-JulyAugustSeptember-house.


artwork by Lisa Z LindahlAh, the satisfaction of house-wifery!

Now I can add air conditioner filter replacement and cleaning to my list of skills, right there after snow shoveling.





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