Thursday, September 19, 2013

Bailing on Summer

All you pumpkin spice latte / how cute is my new fall cardigan folk can just bite me, 'kay?

It's still in the 90s here. It'll be in the 90s here until, I guess, February? And fine, I grew up with it (it's the humidity and the heat, FYI), I don't own a lot of cardigans, and at least it's no longer in the 100s.

But the A/C at work is a bonkers anti-fun-house water torture mess.

And I’m tired of it. I’m enervated by it. I’m beginning to dread my office for the day-long, futile, vicious cycle of gently coaxing the damn thing just to have it attempt to lower the temp below 85.

Here’s what it takes to get the A/C to run:
1.      First thing in the morning, turn it on.
2.      Forget that first thing, I should have bailed it out.
3.      Grab the take-out container and bail out the overflow tray. More on this below.
4.      Listen for the tell-tale ‘whrr-chnk’ that indicates the motor has consented to operate.
5.      Empty the trash can full of water that has just been bailed out of the overflow tray.
6.      Wash my hands thoroughly and still feel like there’s slimy particle-ridden A/C water all over me.
7.      Return the trash can for the next bailing session, turn out the closet lights, sit at desk.
8.      In 22 minutes when the overflow tray is full again, repeat steps 3 through 7.

Me, bailing the overflow tray. Note the handy red
sensor ensuring that the unit stops working!
The overflow tray! Oh, the overflow tray. So you may not know this, but A/Cs work in part by dehumidifying the icky hot, humid air. So you take a boat-load of humid air and the A/C has to, like, wring out the extra moisture before it can be cooled. And where does all that hot water go? Through the drain and into the overflow tray!

(It probably has a more technical name. Whatever. It’s my evil overlord, I’ll call it what I want to.)

For reasons unknown (alchemy was involved? and also a pyre made of operating manuals?), the overflow tray for my office A/C is not at the end of some pipe leading to the outdoors where water can just wander off to become more humidity in the future, but at the end of some pipe that is 1” from the unit itself, which is in the closet of my office.

(It’s actually in the closet’s closet. Well, one of the closet’s closets. My office has a closet/file storage area, and there are two closets off of it, with A/C units and breaker boxes and storage boxes and extra rolls of carpet and a rickety old ladder and exposed wires and bats, maybe? Plus the overflow tray.) 

(Worth noting: the office raccoon never goes in there. Make of that what you will.)

(Worth noting: we have an office raccoon. Don’t get me started. It’s not a pet.)

So, due to the aforementioned heat, swamp city, ritual sacrifice confluence, every 22 minutes the overflow tray fills with liquefied humidity. And a fun feature of the overflow tray is a little sensor that shuts off the A/C motor when the overflow tray is full. Because otherwise, the pipe would keep dumping liquefied humidity on the closet’s closet’s floor, which would drip through to the office below, and ruin the stacks of books that fill it. (Also notable: my company has an office that is full of nothing but stacks of books.) (The raccoon likes it in there.)

So every 22 minutes, the A/C stops blowing cool air. So every 22 minutes someone has to bail out the overflow tray, then spend the next 18 minutes feeling like there’s micro-humidity-demons on her skin, then spend the next 4 minutes hoping someone else will come in for the next bailing session. (To be fair, I’m not the only one who bails. But I’m the one closest to the closet and therefore am the soonest to notice when it’s needed.)

Now sometimes the overflow tray has no water in it for, like, an hour. Mind you, the fan runs the whole time, so unless you’re savvy like me and notice that instead of it blowing cool air, it’s just blowing air, you might not understand what this means.

What it means is that it’s so hot in my office, and the A/C is having such trouble trying to make air cold, that the coils have frozen over. And that means I have to turn the whole system off for half an hour so it can defrost. (This is also why I shut it off overnight. That, and because it’s super awesome to come into a 90-degree office in the morning.)

Probably you can guess what happens in my humid, metal-roofed office when it’s in the 90s outside and there’s no fan blowing air, much less cool air, to the denizens.

As a super-awesome-nature-loves-me bonus, when the fan isn’t blowing, I get an increase in the reek from the decomposing rodent in the ceiling of the office kitchen (the office kitchen is also off of my office. I have 4 doors: hallway, bathroom, kitchen, closet. The climate control strategy involved in their opening and closing is a complex art.)

For those of you paying attention, that means I come in to work in the mornings to a humid, hot, stomach-turning office and spend the next several hours attempting to mitigate as many of those factors as possible. So, yes, I’d love a cute new fall cardigan. A cute new fall cardigan would mean that it’s probably not hotter than 82 outside, which would mean that I can go to work and, on the best of days, not have to go near the overflow tray at all.

But for now, the raccoon and I co-exist with the heat.


  1. Guess I shouldn't complain that we had to turn the heat on the other night, huh? I'm sure there are cute fall sleeveless blouses too. - Cristina

  2. You could always relocate to the Pacific Northwest- a much more civilized climate- and you have some pretty cool relatives out there too... :)