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Mr. Fix-It Paul MacGregor

9/17/2006

Keep air conditioner from freezing

Question: I would like to know what would cause a window unit air conditioner to freeze up often.

Answer: Youíre asking too much of a small window unit when youíre trying to cool a large room, especially if you have the unit turned up on high.

You can run the fan on high, but not the compressor. The coils are collecting more heat than you can exchange on the outside part of the unit. As a result, the refrigerant gets colder and colder as it cycles through the coils.

Keep the unit on medium instead of high and make sure the coils are kept clear of dust and debris. Also keep the filter clean for the air that enters the house.

Question: Is it possible to put blacktop over cracked concrete if the cracks are filled in? What about concrete or cement overlay?

Answer: You can overlay concrete with asphalt, but you probably wonít get the life out of the asphalt that you will when you apply it over a prepared roadbed. Remember that concrete and asphalt expand and contract at a much different rate and that can affect the life of the blacktop. A concrete overlay over concrete is a set-up for failure.

Itís always best to put asphalt over a 6 to 8 inch base of small gravel. Use a geofabric over the gravel if your soil is unstable.

Use a 4-inch bed of pea-gravel or compacted road base material (crushed granite) for concrete. If the soil is unstable, make sure you use re-bar or Fiberglas re-enforced concrete.

Question: It is time for me to replace my old furnace, which I planned on doing last year, but the funds were not available. I have a few questions.

First, where do I find out about the furnace energy tax credit that the government has available? I know there is credit for high efficiency furnaces, but that is the extent of my knowledge.

Second, has it been your experience or have you heard that one furnace brand (Lennox, Trane, etc.) is better than the others, or are they all equal when it comes to reliability and warranty?

Answer: The credit is $150 for furnaces, but they must be 96 percent efficient. The credit for air conditioners is $300, but they must be 13-SEER or better.

All of the top brands are pretty much equal with a few different bells and whistles. The key is to use a good local company.

There are other tax credits available for insulation, windows and doors, evaporative coolers and hot water tanks. But they must have been purchased between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 of this year. More information is available at www.energystar.gov

Question: I have granite countertops and accidentally used Comet on one of them. There are now dull spots in certain areas. Is there any way I can fix this?

Answer: A granite fabricator I know recommended you clean the damaged area with some lacquer thinner and some steel wool. Then use a polishing wheel such as a car buffer along with some wax.

He is concerned that the bleach in the Comet affected the surface of the stone. If the recommended solution doesnít work, he said you should call a good granite fabricator to polish out the area with a diamond-polishing wheel.

Mr. Fix-It can now be heard Saturdays from 8 to 10 a.m. on 16Kicks (KCKK 1600) and AM 1570 in Loveland and Fort Collins. E-mail questions to Paul MacGregor at mrfixit@mrfixit.net.

See more Mr.Fix-It columns by Paul MacGregor
 


 
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