Keeping cool, summer 2016 edition

August 26, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
Aug. 26, 2016

If last summer’s personal theme was dental problems, a new familial theme has emerged in 2016: Cooling challenges.

In July, my Parental Unit had to call the heating and air conditioning maintenance company when an issue developed with the AC there. While personnel were present, part of the ceiling in P.U.’s master bedroom collapsed, leading to an expensive, extensive set of repairs that (fortunately) was mainly covered by homeowners’ insurance. The upstairs floor was rendered temporarily uninhabitable as a combination of heaters and blowers were used to dry everything out.

Late on Tuesday of last week, I arrived home to find that the interior of my house was hotter than the exterior. Since it was probably in the upper 80s outside, and this was the middle of the night, the temperature difference was not unimpressive. My air conditioner was running, but nothing was getting cooled.

I considered getting a hotel room for the night, so concerned was I about the possibility of experiencing heat stroke if I attempted to sleep at home for the rest of the evening. But instead, I decided to be thrifty.

First I opened the windows in my bedroom to promote a little natural cooling. Then I went to my kitchen to retrieve a variety of ice packs and frozen water bottles, which I deployed strategically around my bed. After a while, I put the packs and bottles back in the freezer and attempted to go to sleep. Alas, I decided that I had no confidence in my screen windows to keep out bugs, so I got back out of bed to and close the windows.

Fortunately, by that point, the bedroom had cooled enough that I was able to fall asleep and snooze the night away more or less comfortably.

On Wednesday, I called my landlord. A maintenance crew showed up and replaced a part in the air conditioner. I thought the air starting blowing noticeably cooler almost immediately, but they told me that they needed to call in specialists to put things entirely aright. (I think an additional part was broken and that the machine’s stock of freon also needed to be replenished.) Since they weren’t sure when those tasks could be handled, they offered me a window-mounted air conditioner. I accepted, and after a short interlude, I had a seemingly brand-new window unit in my bedroom.

The smaller unit made being in the entire house bearable, but this new situation was hardly ideal: At the same time the bedroom was slightly too cool for comfort — especially when the unit was blowing — the rest of the house was slightly too warm for my taste. Fortunately, this was rendered moot on Friday, when the HVAC specialists came and finished fixing the air conditioning… more or less.

That wasn’t quite the end of the story. One of the HVAC specialists told me that it appeared that an animal had taken up residence beneath my house, so another crew would have to come back to fix my ductwork.

Which is what happened on Monday of this week. A couple of men spent the better part of the day doing repairs.

And now everything is cozy and cool. Well, except for whatever animal or animals got displaced.


As I mentioned several days ago, I had some car trouble in July. I’ve been keeping an eye on my engine temperature gauge ever since. The needle has moved around quite a bit — and on Thursday of last week, it rocketed into the red zone.

I’d seen that happen a few times since the car was repaired, and each time the engine cooled thanks to my turning off the air conditioning and/or driving at higher speeds. (That is, I did some highway driving, as opposed to idling at traffic lights in so-called city driving.) But on this Thursday afternoon, I was already on the highway and traveling at speed, and the temperature needle was still glued to the high end of the scale.

This was obviously neither normal nor good. But since the check engine light didn’t come on, I continued to my destination.

Later that evening, after the car had cooled, I popped the hood to check the coolant levels. They once again seemed to be nonexistent, so I opened up the trunk and pulled out the bottles of radiator fluid that I’d purchased the month before. I finished off the first bottle and opened up the second one in order to restore levels to normalcy.

And ever since then, the car’s run fine. Thank goodness!

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