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Super Handyman: Service A/C unit before the weather heats up

Chances are you probably haven’t fired up the old air conditioning just yet, but you really should. It’s a good idea to test it before you really need it. But before you try it, you should do a little light maintenance first. This could head off any problems that are likely to show up at the beginning of the season. If you don’t want to do it yourself, find a reputable air conditioning serviceperson to do it for you.

We can’t seem to say this enough, but change your filters regularly. Not only will your house air be filtered, but it will prevent dirt from clogging your air conditioner coils.

Speaking of the coils, there are a couple of things you should tend to with these. We like to clean these at the beginning of each season. Cut the current to the unit before opening up the side to look at the coils. A little warm, soapy water will get most of the gunk off of them.

Clean the drain pan under the coils as well. You can pour a little bleach into the pan to clear the drain too. If you have an air compressor, you also can use that to clear the drain. Check this drain pan periodically to make sure it’s working. A clogged drain pan can overflow and cause a lot of water damage in a short amount of time. They do make auto shut-offs for these if you want to make sure you prevent an overflow.

When you close up this area, make sure you seal all of the joints for the best efficiency.

Look at the ductwork, and make sure it doesn’t have any visible holes where leaks could occur. Check it again when you finally turn it on and see if you can “feel” any leaks. Seal leaky ducts with mastic. It’s messy, but it works the best.

Go outside and take a look at the compressor. Again, make sure the power is “off.” Use a garden hose or air compressor to clean it up. Clogs of grass and other debris will prevent good air flow and cause more wear and tear on the compressor. Make sure insects are not nesting in this unit as well.

Before it gets too hot, test it out. Note any problems, and address them before summer arrives.


Q: I’ve seen patching kits to fix chipped porcelain and other hard material like that, but I have a big boo-boo in my kitchen. I have a broken corner from my countertop. I’m not even sure how it happened, but I would like to know if there is any type of patching kit for granite? – K.P.

A: Although not very common, it does happen that granite gets broken or chipped. They do make a patching kit containing an epoxy material. It’s a little difficult to find, so you’ll have to do some shopping around for it. It actually works pretty well if you follow the package directions. Good luck!


Q: We painted our tiled shower a few years ago. It’s stood up well until this past winter. We’d like to strip off the old paint and redo it. What’s the best way to get the old paint off the tiles? – W.P.

A: If the paint is very tough, then use a paint and varnish remover. You probably used acid to etch the tiles before painting last time. Just make sure the surface is clean and prepped for more paint. It should be relatively easy to do again. It sounds like you know what you are doing, so go for it.


If you have noticed that the pressure in your water supply has diminished over time, especially the hot water supply, it may be something as simple as mineral deposits clogging up the lines. It’s not a very hard thing to fix once you know a little trick you can play with a dime. It’s a very simple thing to do, and it may just solve your problems – at least, your water-pressure problems. This information, and a lot more, is available on, so stop on by when you get a chance!

A Super hint

Squirrels in the attic can be a real pain. They also can be a real hazard to get rid of. Once you have gotten them out, cover their entry holes with hardware cloth to prevent them from chewing their way back in. Good luck!

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