Cooling my apartment..

… we have an upstairs apartment. It is currently over 100 outside, and we’re hot.

We had the filter replaced in our AC yesterday.

Today, like the previous several days of hotness, it’s still 87 in our apartment.

The AC has been on since it hit 80, and it doesn’t seem to be helping much.

We’ve placed a call to our management office to have the AC checked/recharged. In the meantime, in addition to our fans, I’m looking for ways to cool off the apartment this evening so it’s not incredibly hot when we try to go to sleep.

My 9yo daughter suggested buying a bunch of ice and putting it in bowls around the apartment. I can’t for the life of me figure out why this woudn’t work, but then again, I am suffering from brain overheat.

So, my GQ is this… would placing bowls filled with ice around the apartment help it cool down in here?

I’ll be sweating and waiting for you answers, oh teeming (and probably cooler than me) millions!

Putting the ice in bowls in front of the fans will do the most good… Also buy a few of those water-misters people use for plants. A quick spray in the air will settle on your skin, and if the fan’s blowing it’ll help cool you down a fair bit. Cool showers, wet hair will help too.

Ok, misting and cool showers…

I will now attempt to talk the wife into letting me go spend $10 on Ice that we’re not making into margaritas… Hehehe…

I don’t know if it will help, but I found this thread fascinating. There may be some ideas in there you can use to get you through the night. But, for pity’s sake, man – save at least some of the ice for margaritas!

Check your ac coil and make sure it’s not icing over. (should be right behind your ac filter) if it is. chip off the ice turn the ac off for an hour or so. Then light that puppy back up.

Also make sure you’re keeping all the shades down too.

If it’s over 100 outside and 87 in your apartment then your A/C is doing it’s job. You might try not waiting for it to get up to 80 before you turn it on, though. Turn it on about 70-75.

Where on the West Coast is it 100 degrees? Or are you inland?

I’m torn now… we don’t want to run the AC at lower temps because we are trying to avoid having $200 bills for it, and at the same time have a living situation where the baby and ourselves are not melting into puddles on the floor.

It was been over 100 for the last 6 days in Sacramento, and projected at over 100 for the rest of this week… which will set a new record for consecutive over 100 days.

Called the Apt. managment to have them double check the AC unit and make sure all is well with the machine.

Those blue things that people use in coolers are great. Just freeze them solid, then put them on your clothes or in front of a running fan. They stay cold longer, and don’t make a mess when they melt.

How cool is the air coming out of the vents? We’ve had the same problem Shakes described in which a unit that had been running too hard for too long froze over and no longer cooled. The air it blew out was ambient temp. After turning it off for several hours and letting it thaw, it then worked fine once we turned it back on.

Desperation mode, especially good when you have to be moving around in hot weather: wet t-shirts.

Really. Dip shirt in cool water until fully sodden, wring out very well, and put on. The whole time it is drying out, the water molecules have to pull heat from your body in order to evaporate. I think of it as ‘proxy sweating’ – you get all of cooling effect of sweat, but your body isn’t actually having to do the ‘work’ of sweating. When the shirt gets dry, dunk it again.

Obviously this works best if you have a breeze, real or artificial, and you have to avoid lying/sitting on anything that the water will damage.

One warning: keeping your skin soaked for hours at a time can make you more susceptible to things like prickly heat if you’re inclined that way. But when the choice is being too miserable to sleep…

Do people still go out and sleep on the fire escapes in horrible weather? Or porches? My parents used to tell stories about that, but with crime the way it is now…

NO NO NO NO NO DON’T CHIP THE ICE OFF. (Yes, I know I’m yelling). It’s very easy to make a mistake a put a hole in the coils. If you do that you might as well take the unit to the dumpster. A much better way to de-ice the unit is to just run the fan for a while and watch for the ice to melt off. If it’s really bad, spraying some water on it [the ice] will help to speed it along. One way to tell if the coils are clear (remember, all you are seeing is the front of them, depending on the size of the AC, they may be several inches deep) is to hold a dollar up to them, there should be enough suction to keep the dollar firmly pulled up against the coils. Also there’s a set of coils on the back that need to be cleaned from time to time as well, if they arn’t cleaned the AC won’t work as well. Since you’re on an upper floor this may or may not be possible for you to do. But the easiest way is going to be to just use a garden hose and spray them. (Don’t use a pressure washer, you’ll bend the coils). But you’re probably best off letting the apartments handle that side of it.

Originally posted by Tristan

Your choice. I turn mine on low before it gets hot and very rarely do I have to turn it to a higher setting. Depends on how big the unit is, YMMV. Do you have rooms you can close off?

That’s what I was going to suggest. My air conditioner is much more efficient if I close off my bathroom and bedroom and halve the space it has to cool. And then when it gets the remainder to a comfortable level, I can open the doors again and it balances out to be pretty comfortable.

Back in the day I remember turning the heat off on my waterbed. The water would cool down and eventually act as a big heat sink. In very hot weather I would wake up feeling cold.

When I lived in Haiti, I would often sleep with a damp bed sheet over me. The huts had corugated tin roofs. Ouch! When outside at mid-day, people would pour a tub of water on the dirt in the shade of a tree and sit in a chair over it…since it was too hot to be inside.

If your apartment complex pays the water bill, you could plug the drain in your bathtub and run an icy-cold shower to fill up the tub. Put a box fan in the bathroom doorway to pull cool mist out of the bathroom, and don’t use the ceiling vent unless you have to. Do what you can to maximize the amount of time the shower-spray is in the air – point it as far towards the opposite side of the tub as possible, or if it’s a stall, point it nearly horizontal to maximize the amount of back-spray you get.

If you’ve only got one bathroom, let everyone take icy-cold showers with the drain plugged, to save water.

Can you direct a stream of water from a hose onto the roof? That will cool the building down. It’s a waste of water, so it should be used only for emergencies.

If you have a patio with a faucet, you can get one of those Misty things at the hardware store, and have it mist your patio- which will also make your apt cooler.

Have to agree with this. Just had air conditioner repair guys over two weeks ago and they said at best the AC will cool a place off about 20 degrees from the outside temperature. In reality they said it is far more common to be something like 15-17 degrees cooler. In the end however the amount of cooling you get depends on many things…size of the place being cooled, power of the air conditiner, how many windows you have, how good the insulation is in the apartment, what floor you are on, if central air how you have the registers set and so on.

A properly designed AC system should be able to maintain the design temperature in a space at design conditions. Of course, when you are not at design conditions, then the system will perform differently. As the outside air temperature rises, an air cooled AC unit will lose capacity. 100 degree air won’t remove as much heat from the condenser coil as 90 degree air will. On the other hand, a system that is sized properly for 100 degree outside air is going to be oversized when the outside air is cooler. Of course, this assumes a properly designed system. Don’t bet on it in residential applications. If it turns out that the unit is working properly but just undersized for the conditions, then adding a window AC unit will work fine to add additional capacity. A basic half ton unit is about $80 at the big warehouse stores and will cool a bedroom nicely.

BTW, a system undersized for the very hottest days isn’t necessarily a bad design, it’s a choice made to provide a system that is the right size for most days. In many cases, it’s the right choice.
Oh, and if your coils are icing over, your AC is not working properly. Icing is a symptom of low freon levels. Sounds counterintuitive, but a lower amount of freon results in a lower pressure in the coil and a corresponding drop in the saturation temperature.