Ed Pfeifer: Don't take that cool breeze for granted - PineCreek Journal

Ed Pfeifer: Don’t take that cool breeze for granted

Thursday, August 1, 2019 | 12:01 AM


Sirius, that’s the satellite radio station right?

Sure it is but, long before that, Sirius was known to ancient stargazers only as a divine star — the most prominent of all the shiny specks in the night sky. In the northern hemisphere Sirius, also known as the “Dog Star,” spends the hottest days of summer joined at the hip with the sun. Together, the ancients believed the Dog Star and the sun blistered the earth with their dazzling light and intense heat. Ever heard of the “dog days” of summer?

As I write this, it is late July and the modern peoples of Western Pennsylvania are trying desperately to wiggle out of the clenched fist of Sirius and the sun. It’s hot and humid, and while we complain mightily about both, most of us have the oasis of an air-conditioned house in which to hide — that is until we don’t.

Air conditioners meld chemistry and mechanics to suck the heat and humidity from our homes, force a chill through our ducts and onto our waiting flesh. But they require preventive maintenance or they will shut down, leaving us no better off to deal with the dog days than those old-time astronomers.

In some ways the folks of antiquity had it easy, though. Cooling devices in the olden days were simple — fanning feathers and shade trees. No maintenance there. But truthfully, we shouldn’t complain.

If we save the complexities of AC maintenance for folks with brightly painted vans and name tags, we are left to do the simplest task of all — changing the filter. That’s a five-minute job which, when the Dog Star and its fiery dancing partner sashay across the southern sky, we too often forget to do.

In the winter, we run our furnace and are largely diligent about changing what is inappropriately referred to as the “furnace” filter. Come summer when we are cooling our homes, that same furnace blower pulls air through that same filter which, for the sake of accuracy, should be referred to as an “air” filter.

During the dog days, air conditioners are working very hard, pulling and pushing air. If a clogged air filter won’t let that air flow freely, energy usage goes up, AC lines freeze up and proper cooling becomes impossible.

Selecting the correct filter for your unit is easy. Virtually all will accept pleated filters, which provide excellent filtration at a very low cost. Your local hardware store will have the size you need, and they will gladly assist you with installation instructions.

If you wish to ignore the importance of changing your air filter during the dog days, that’s fine too. Grab a fanning feather or find a shade tree to keep cool. After all, those things were okay in the days of yore right? But these are modern times and, with a little effort, we can have a properly functioning air conditioner to beat back the sun and the Dog Star; a much better option, Siriusly.

Ed Pfeifer is a Tribune-Review freelance columnist and owner of Pfeifer Hardware Inc. If you have hardware-related questions, call the store at 724-625-9090.