Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Building a Field Expedient Air Conditioner

I'm in the Army, stationed in Middle-of-Nowhere, TX. It's pretty hot here. Like, really hot. But apparently not hot enough to keep the administration of this post from trying to pinch pennies by turning down our AC. They couldn't do it by, you know, selling off the 40" plasma-screen TVs that display the menus in our chow halls, or maybe not over-watering the grass until it runs down the streets in rivers (despite being in the middle of one of the wettest summers on record). No, the powers-that-be have decided that soldiers' air-conditioning was the easiest expense to cut out of the budget. Thing is, our rooms have individual controls, much like in a hotel, and it seems (so we deduce) that they've simply turned down the massive central compressor unit itself. See, everyone's AC still runs, it's just not really cooling much anymore. Since there's no air exchange with the outside, our rooms are now barely cooler and considerably more humid, moldy, and stinky than the outside air.

Now, being who I am, I'm not simply complaining. I intend to do something about it, and that something involves the ice machine that sits unheeded in the corner of our laundry room. See, most people haven't even noticed the thing's actually running and constantly full of ice. But I have. I figure I can rig up a bucket of ice dripping melt-water through some tubing on the back of a box fan for less than $20 or so. It ought to provide a decent amount of cooling, but it's the dehumidification I'm really looking for. Hopefully it might take some of the fight out of the mold colony in our AC unit before it declares itself an autonomous theocracy and launches a preemtive strike against us.

So tomorrow I'll probably be running to Lowe's to put together this project. Wish me luck.

1 comment:

elephantschild said...

I'll run this post past Mad Musician tonight - he's famous for messing with HVAC equipment without proper authorization. While we were dating he bought me a steam key so that I could adjust the heat in my architecture studio. The thermostats at each doorway were fake, put there to make the occupants feel better. The heat was controlled by a little valve up behind the suspended ceiling panels. The system was *supposed to* sense when the room was occupied, but alas, it was less than accurate.