Air Conditioners and Attitudes for Week 34 (Decluttering and Simplifying 2010)

Before I say anything else, thanks for reading. Traffic on this site is up 500 percent over this period last month. That’s because you’re reading, and I appreciate it.

Are these weekly decluttering updates ever going to end? Yes, they will, at week 52, whether I’m done or not — but something else will spring up to take their place. I have some ideas, but I’m not talking yet.

In the meantime, there are months to go, and lots of areas of my life — both physical and emotional — are still cluttered.

With big, fun plans for Saturday night — a rarity this summer — I planned a home-all-day-catching-up Thursday.

I had planned to get lots of cleaning and decluttering done Thursday, but my minimalist air conditioning setup needed some attention. The window unit in the bedroom froze up Wednesday. And on the same day, the room unit in the kitchen began leaking all over the floor. On the good side, the third unit, another room air conditioner vented through a window, was working fine.

I’m not very good at fixing things, but avoiding debt is a powerful motivator. We had to pay to have the lawnmower repaired and for our cat’s illness this summer, and more debt for more repairs just isn’t an option.

Besides, learning to do things yourself is an important part of living a simple, deliberate life — and one that I will be writing more about soon.

First, I tackled the room air conditioner. It’s old and has a reservoir that holds the water it condenses from the air. But the reservoir was empty and the floor was soaked. Obviously, the drain failed somehow.

I had to take the panels off the top and all four sides of the unit, but I found a clog in the drain where the water collects just below the coils and cleaned it out with a dowel rod and, of course, a coat hanger. After a thorough vacuuming of the whole unit, the covers went back on, and, perhaps surprisingly, it worked fine.

And that’s important since this is the supposed to be the hottest weekend of the summer here in North Texas. Temperatures over 104 are predicted by Monday with a slightly hotter heat index — an indication of high humidity, a stressing conditions for air conditioners.

Then I tackled the window unit. It seemed to be freezing up, causing it to cool for a while, then stop cooling entirely. The front cover isn’t removable, so the coils inside have been getting steadily dirtier for about five years. Something had to be done, however. With a screwdriver and some luck, I found that the non-removable cover does, in fact, come off.

David remembered that the maintenance man at the library where he worked sprayed dirty air conditioner coils with a mixture of bleach and vinegar. I did that, then used an old toothbrush to wipe away years of filth.

That unit is old, too, and it probably won’t make another season, but it’s working now.

I didn’t get much decluttering of the house done, but my brain feels much less cluttered. It bothers me that I don’t know how to fix things, but now I know a little more.

My attitude is shifting from one of helplessness regarding machines to one of someone who can learn to fix them.

I’m also finding that decluttering is part of my daily rountine now. I pick up things every time I pass though the house, it seems, throwing them away or putting them where they belong.

I still have several major decluttering projects to do, but this week of malfunctioning air conditioners and improving attitudes is a success. I hope yours was, too.


  1. De-cluttering is a good way to clear up the chaos that tends to follow us in our fast paced lives.
    I work in the safety industry and one of the major causes of all accidents is poor housekeeping. Housekeeping is defined as “a place for everything and everything in its place”. It is a simple maxim to follow and it works well if you discipline yourself to live by it. It cuts down the time you spend searching for things and drastically reduces the frustration levels of wondering where the item was last seen. It also makes your environment more work friendly as you don’t keep stopping important things to clear up the ‘mess’ leaving you more focused on your task at hand.
    Great to learn to fix your own problems as some service people are very inefficient except in taking your money. Makes you more independent and does wonders for your confidence when you can fix it.
    Keep up the quest.

  2. Andre —

    You’re absolutely right. I agree with all your points.

    My house isn’t very well organized at all, but it’s getting better. I find myself working on it in small ways every day.


  3. Thanks for the encouragement, Jess.

    You can expect weekly decluttering and simplifying updates until the end of the year, then I think we will all be ready for a different approach. We’ll see how that works out!

    I’m glad to have you here.


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