[HOUSE AND HOLMES] The Condition of Air

Rob Loos, Ledger Columnist

As a kid I played outside in the summer heat for hours, but now I insist on remaining cool at all times. I know, my kids never think that I am “cool,” but I have become totally hooked on life in an air-conditioned world. I sleep in an air-conditioned house, work in an air-conditioned office, and drive in an air-conditioned car.

So you can imagine my panic when our air conditioning stopped responding. We have “whole house air conditioning,” which means that the temperature is controlled by a retro thermostat with a faint digital display of barely visible numbers, lots of tiny buttons, and a mind of its own.

Cold air is supposed to invisibly race through our a/c vents so that the temperature inside our house never soars above 72 degrees, but that wasn’t happening. Instead, sticky, damp, warm air that seemed better suited for the bus station in downtown Tampa filled our home. I went through my mental checklist – I made sure that I selected “Cool” (and not “Heat”) on the thermostat, re-inserted my desired “zone” temperature of 72 degrees, and feverishly pushed a battery of buttons. No luck.

I had to act fast, so I did what I always do, I called my super-contractor friend Dave, who, ironically, was stepping out of his home sauna. “When was the last time you changed your filter?” he asked. I had no idea that I even had a filter, let alone where to find one. Dave guided me to a covered brown metal vent in our hallway about the size of our Cocker Spaniel. I opened two latches and found the filter clogged with lint, dog hair, and grey dust bunnies. I went to the hardware store, replaced the filter, and quickly our home returned to its perfect temperate environment, which goes to once again prove, “If I can’t figure it out—and I know that I can’t—my friend Dave can.”

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