When your air conditioner quits, it can be a sweat-inducing experience. This is especially true if it happens during the summer. Thankfully, it's pretty easy to have a repairman scheduled to come in and fix it within 24 hours--but what can you do until then? Have no fear. Whether you live in the deep south or further north, there's plenty of ways to chill out until your appliance is repaired. Thankfully, it's possible to create an amazing temporary air conditioner from items most people have right in their home garage. Read on to learn more.
Getting Started: Gathering Your Supplies
While this item won't have the same effect as a permanent air conditioner, it's suitable enough for apartments, bedrooms and other small spaces. To start, get a 5 gallon bucket, a hacksaw, and a 6" length of 1.5" PVC piping. You'll also need a styrofoam bucket that's as closely sized to your bucket as possible--this will be slipped down inside your 5 gallon bucket to provide a layer of insulation. You'll also need a small desk fan, a sharp blade, and a small electric hole saw or drill.
Mark Off Three Circles On Your 5 Gallon Bucket
Start by marking off 1.5" circles. Each one should be 2" from the lip of the bucket. Two to three circles is plenty--more will allow too much warm air to enter the bucket, reducing its performance. Make sure to space them by at least 1" away from each other and 2" from the lip itself so that the structural integrity of the bucket stays intact.
Saw or Cut Out Each Circle
When you have them marked off, use your hole saw to drill them out and then pull the material away. If you don't have a drill saw, this can be done with a sharp blade or drill.
Tip: If you choose to use a blade, be extremely careful--it's very easy to cut yourself when cutting through the plastic. A firm but steady pressure works best. Whenever possible, use a blade that comes with a grip-coated handle for even more safety.
Repeat the Last Step for the Styrofoam Liner
Once you've removed the holes from the exterior bucket, you'll need to cut holes from the liner, too. This is much easier if you insert the liner first, and then cut through the original holes in the bucket. As styrofoam is far easier to tunnel through, this can be done with anything from scissors to a sharp kitchen knife.
Trim Your PVC Piping to Size
Next, cut the 6" length of PVC piping into three equal sections of 2". These will be tunneled through the bucket and the liner, effectively holding both in place and providing an exit for cool air. If you find you have trouble getting them into the holes, you may need to shave the drilled holes by a millimeter or two to increase the size for proper accommodation.
Tip: If you don't have access to PVC piping, get creative. Try adjusting the size of your holes a bit. Rolled-up Bristol board, cardboard paper towel rolls, and just about any other tube-like material will work just as well. However, unless your chosen material is moisture-proof, you may find you need to replace it frequently.
If you're planning on making a more permanent solution, or you want even better performance, consider adding gaskets to each of the holes. This will seal the area between the liner and the bucket, ensuring that no air escapes down between them. Sealing gaskets can be purchased cheaply at any hardware store.
Measure Your Fan and Cut a Hole In Your Bucket's Lid
Measure the diameter of your desk fan. You'll need to cut a hole in the lid of your bucket to match this diameter. Make it just a few millimeters smaller, so that you can set the desk fan down on top of the hole, allowing it to force air into the interior of the bucket. Depending on how thick the lid is, you may be able to snip the center out with scissors alone. Otherwise, use a saw or drill.
Next, fill the styrofoam liner with ice. Alternatively, you can freeze a jug of tap water and lay it down inside the liner instead. Loose ice will provide better cooling, but will melt much more quickly than a solid, frozen jug of water. Frozen cooler packs can also be used for this, as can bags of ice purchased at the store. If all else fails, just make do with what you have on hand.
Start Your Temporary Air Conditioner
To start your new home-made solution, place the lid back on the outer bucket. Then, lay the fan face-down on top of the bucket itself. Finally, turn the fan on. How this item works is by drawing warm air into the bucket, where it circulates around the ice and then exits out of the three holes you drilled out previously. Just aim the three holes in your direction, and you should have a lovely cool breeze to help beat the heat.
It's worth noting that this solution is temporary and really only suitable for small rooms. That being said, it makes a fantastic on-the-spot solution that can help to prevent humans, pets, and single rooms cool on a short-term basis.
When it's hot, the last thing anyone wants to discover is that their air conditioning has stopped working. If you're currently struggling with a unit that's in need of repair, it may be time to call in the professionals. Contact your local HVAC contractor or a site like http://www.smedleyservice.com to schedule a maintenance call today.