Air conditioner theft on the rise in Ohio

I don't know what it is, but lately, I've been ready some pretty disturbing news. People around the country have been stealing air conditioners! I'm not sure whether it's the hot temperatures that are impairing people's judgement or if AC prices have risen so much that these appliances are no longer affordable, but either way you cut it, air conditioner theft is on the rise.

I was talking to my sister, Emily, who lives in Columbus, Ohio. I asked her about any interesting news she's heard about lately, and sure enough, she told me about how her next door neighbor's AC was stolen.

Emily said that in the past six weeks, there have been six AC robberies. I was shocked. My sister said that one of the reasons that the thief could have taken the air conditioner from her neighbor was because she was an elderly citizen.

I asked Emily what the robbers do once they have the unit. Do they sell it? Use it for themselves? My sister said that they take the metals the ACs are made of and sell it. I couldn't believe it! How much money is the metal on these appliances worth I asked? Emily told me that the news article said robbers don't typically get more than $40 for what they've sold. 

What's even more surprising about all of this is that thieves can strip away the metals and other materials in less than five minutes. Talking to my sister and hearing what she had to say made me want to do everything I could to protect my AC, like building a cage around it, installing a motion detector or even a small hidden camera near the appliance.

Electric fan urban legend in South Korea

I'm a big fan of urban myths and legends.  Don't ask me why, but I think my love of these tall tales emerged when I was taking a trip to Scotland with my father. My dad asked me if I had ever heard of the Loch Ness Monster. I was about 12 years old and so I had never heard of such a thing.

My father explained that this lake monster has been supposedly sighted by few people. I became fascinated with this creature, and ever since then, researching urban legends has been one of my more unorthodox hobbies.

I've seen a lot of crazy myths in my day, but few are as odd as the one I read about in the Atlantic. In South Korea, many people believe that sleeping the whole night with an electric fan on can cause death.

I laughed out loud when I read this. Apparently, some people have the wild notion that the appliance's blades chop up oxygen into carbon dioxide, which reportedly makes the air unbreathable.

There are some people in South Korea who take this urban legend so seriously that they have bought an electric fan that has a timer attached to it to shut it off.

I admit that there are some myths that I take rather seriously. After all, I spent three years researching the Loch Ness after I came back from Scotland. But, this tale from Korea was one that I failed to understand. I don't know how residents of this country sleep without an electric fan operating all night long, especially when temperatures there can reach over 100 degrees!

Things to consider before buying an air conditioner

Summer is officially here. To celebrate the warm weather season, my family and I always host a small party at our house and invite our neighbors. We barbeque, play games and catch up with folks we haven't seen in a long time.

During  our most recent get together, I was talking to Oliver, a friend and neighbor who is an electrician. We started talking about appliances because I told him that I thought it was time that I purchase a new air conditioner.

Oliver said that before I do, I should consider some things. First, he said, I should think about where I want the AC to go. He let me know that small ACs are only going to cool one room because they simply aren't powerful enough to cool larger spaces.

Oliver then advised that I look out for how much power the air conditioner I want to buy is going to use. I asked how I'm supposed to know how that is measured. He said BTUs measure energy and power. He said I certainly don't need an appliance with 20,000 BTUs if I am just going to cool the kitchen.

Finally, Oliver said that once I purchase the AC, it's important to take steps to keep it working properly. I asked him what he meant by that and he said I should clean the filter on a regular basis and be aware of any strange noises the appliance is producing.

I thanked him for the advice and he said anytime I needed to know anything else about an air conditioner, I could just walk over to his house and we could discuss my questions over a Jack and Coke.

What you need to know before calling an air conditioner repairman

I don't know what it is, but my air conditioner always seems to break at the worst times. And, I'm not just talking about warm weather in the lower 80s, I'm talking about 90 degrees or above.

A few days ago, I walked into our house after work when I noticed that it was unusually hot. I went over the the AC, and sure enough, there was no cool air coming from it. My first inclination was to call a handyman, but I paused for a minute to see if there was any advice available that discussed how to fix a malfunctioning air conditioner.

Upon browsing the internet, I came across an article published by an Ohio television news station that talked about how consumers may be overcharged for AC repairs when they are desperate to have theirs fixed.

The article also talked about how requesting next day service is one way that repair companies try to get customers to overpay. Handymen, for example, may try to convince you that you need to buy a whole new unit.

Instead of rushing to the phone, it's a good idea to take some time to troubleshoot the issue yourself. That means, checking to see that the thermostat is operating properly and making sure that there are no loose wires around the appliance.

Boy, am I glad I followed the article's advice. The next day, I talked to my next door neighbor who said that she hired a repairman who charged her $300! I told her about the article I read and promised to email it to her once I got home.

Is your humidifier producing too much moisture?

There is no getting around it: my humidifier has been one of the most useful appliances in my home. Not only has it helped clear up my sinuses when I'm sick, but it's also even kept my skin from becoming overly dry during the winter.

But, despite how handy this appliance has been to me and my family, I recently noticed that moisture beads were accumulating on the inside of our home's windows, furniture, floors and mirrors. My wife, Jan, even noticed that mold was beginning to form along the corners of our living room wall.

I began to do some research to see what the problem was, and apparently, humidifiers have been known to release too much moisture into the air from time to time. When I described my findings to Jan, she began to grow concerned that we purchased the wrong type of appliance. I reassured her that this is not an uncommon issue.

I simply told her that we needed to purchase a hygrometer. She look at me and laughed. I said I know the name sounds a bit funny, but these tools can be very useful. Apparently, hygrometers help make sure that humidity levels in a house aren't too high.

I could tell by the look on my wife's face that she wanted to know more. I told her that these little gadgets aren't expensive and can be bought as small digital battery-operated units. We talked a bit more about where we could buy one, and she asked me to call our local hardware store. Luckily, the employee told me that there were two more left. I didn't want the store to sell out of hygrometers, so I bought one that very day.

How to keep your home cool and energy costs down during the summer

A few days ago, I was outside in my garden harvesting some fingerling potatoes and beets that I grew when all of the sudden, I started getting really hot. I mean, I know summer is on its way, but I forgot how quickly the weather could turn from warm to scorching!

I needed a break and went inside to cool off. In fact, I sat right in front of our air conditioner and put it on high. Then I began thinking how doing so was going to increase our energy bill. I wanted to keep our house cool but didn't want to pay a lot of money every month to keep our house comfortable.

I did some internet research and came across some great tips that described how to keep our energy costs at bay. First, the website said to close all doors leading to uncooled parts of our house. If we have an air conditioner unit in a room that we aren't using, it is apparently a good idea to close to vents. Keeping the applicance's filters clean is also important.

The article also described how it was wise to close up holes and cracks around windows and doors. Foam insulation is a great and easy way to do this.

Finally, I read that closing blinds, drapes and shades are a simple way to keep the sun from overheating a room. It can also keep summer appliances like air conditioners and electric fans running more efficiently.

I knew that a little research would help keep our house cool and energy bill down. And when I told my wife, Jan, and kids about what I had learned, they were quite impressed!

How to clean your air conditioner’s evaporator

It's no secret that we all love summer. There is something so enjoyable and pleasant about warm weather and sunshine. However, despite how great this season may be, one thing that is downright awful is a malfunctioning air conditioner.

A few weeks ago, my family's AC broke down. My wife, Jan, suggested that instead of calling an electrician to come over and fix it, that I do some research and see if I can get the appliance working again.

Some of the articles that I came across said that the evaporator, which is located directly about the air conditioner's furnace should be cleaned once a year. I asked myself how in the world am I supposed to know how to do this. Luckily, the articles included some how-to steps.

First, I took off the foil-wrapped insulation at the front of the AC's plenum, which is the part of the appliance that returns air and exhaust air. After doing so, I unscrewed the access plate using a screwdriver.

Then, I cleaned the entire bottom of the evaporator using a stiff brush. I purchased one of these at my local hardware store. Once I completed this step, I cleaned the tray of the evaporator unit. Apparently, the purpose of this tray is to carry away condensation from the evaporator. The article then said to pour one tablespoon of bleach into the small opening of the tray to prevent fungus and mold from growing.

Next, I reinstalled the plate, put insulation tape over it and turned on our air conditioner. Luckily there were no leaks! I was thrilled to see that my research and handyman skills had paid off and so was the rest of my family because the next day, it was over 90 degrees in my town.

How to fight a cold without using decongestants

Let's face it. No one likes to be sick. I can remember last time that I had a bad case of the flu. I was out of work for a week. It was awful, especially because my kids were away at college and Jan was at work.

Unfortunately, I recently felt myself coming down with a cold. I am pretty sure that I caught something after I went to go visit my sick niece. I can deal with the coughing or even headaches, but one thing that drives me nuts is having a stuffy nose. Decongestants never seem to work for me. As such, I decided to look up some remedies that would actually work to clear up my nasal passages.

One tip I found was to get a humidifier. This handy appliances are designed to distribute moisture into the air. Dry air can be one of the many causes of a stuffy nose. I read that if you are suffering from congestion, it's best to use a humidifier that vaporizes steam. The reason behind this is because it prevents the scattering of mold and fungal spores into the air.

Another tip I read about involved using essential oil. The article said eucalyptus can be a great way to help alleviate congestion. You can even add it to your humidifier or rub it on your chest to break up the sticky mucus in your chest.

Finally, consider applying a moist heat compress to your face between three and five times a day for approximately 10 minutes. My research informed me that moisture helps dilate your blood vessels and capillaries, which can help you ailing body fight the infection.

Who knew an electric fan could be so useful?

If you are like me, you know how valuable cooling appliances can be, especially during the warmer summer months. My air conditioner has broken several times over the past few years, and my good old electric fan has always come to the rescue. I don't know what I would do without this type of appliance, especially when it's scorching outside.

We all know that electric fans cool us down. But, I'm not sure that many people know about the other uses for this very handy appliance. I recently took on the challenge of repainting our bathroom. My wife, Jan, suggested that we hire a painter, but I like doing housework, so I told her I would do it myself.

I went to the hardware store one Saturday morning, selected a paint color and went home. The painting was going pretty well until I realized that I was impatient and wanted it to dry faster.

I was going into the living room to describe this minor dilemma to Jan, when I walked by my son's room and he had an electric fan. I paused for a moment and then thought I would use this appliance to help the paint dry faster.

Of course, I knew one fan wouldn't do the job, so I persuaded Jan to let me borrow the fan in the living room as well. She said yes, and so I put that fan and the one from my son's room in the room I was painting.

The paint dried so much faster than had I not used our family's electric fans. Jan was so impressed with how great the bathroom look that she even let me watch the football game that night.

Electric fan helps prevent Damping Off Disease

Most people that I know have a few hobbies. I, on the other hand, am a different story. My wife, Jan, playfully teases me and says I'm addicted to taking up new pastimes. I hate to admit it, but she may be right. For a while, I was really into cooking. That phase passed, and then I took an interest in building model airplanes.

However, despite how many hobbies have come and gone, there is one that has remained part of my life ever since we moved a few years ago: gardening. To me, there is something so peaceful about being outdoors and harvesting veggies and herbs I've grown.

Although, I have a lot of friends who prefer purchasing small plants and sowing them directly into the ground, I prefer taking a different approach. Many people may call me overambitious, but I like to grow my herbs and vegetables from seeds. But, lately, I've been running into a problem. My basil seedlings have been dying!

I found this to be very upsetting for a couple different reasons. One was because I spent a lot of money buying seeds and gardening materials and two, because I spent so much time trying to make sure my herbs were healthy.

I decided to start doing some research to see if I could find the reasons why this was happening. After a little searching, I came across an article called Damping Off Disease, which is the name for any fungus producing ailments. This disease kills seedlings before they have had a chance to fully develop.

But, thankfully, the article I read provided a solution to preventing this disease and that was to make sure your seeds have plenty of air circulation. One of the easiest ways to ensure this happens is to keep an electric fan near where they are growing.

I've been following this advice for a few weeks now with some new basil seedlings I bought, and I have to admit, my tiny plants look better than ever. I always knew that electric fans could cool us off, but I never knew they would help keep my herbs alive!