Rust Never Sleeps

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Hello!  New to the forum, though I've been lurking for a few months.  DH and I own a small, coastal, cottage-style motel , so not a B & B.  Our busy season (aka the 100 Days of H*ll) is approaching, so we are doing our annual window air conditioner re-stock.  The climate here just eats the outsides of them up, and we rarely get more than one season's use out of them.  Anyone have any tips for making our window air conditioners last longer?  We've tried hosing them off between guests, but it doesn't seem to help much.

BTW, I know you all do the same things I do every day (guest relations, cleaning, laundry, etc.), but somehow you also find the time to prepare and serve a lovely, tasty breakfast.  Pretty amazing.  Kudos to you all!

Sanctuary's picture
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 "Rust never sleeps" - you got that right!!!  Sometimes I feel like I do nothing but chase corrosion.  Painting the "fins" - you're talking about the little delecate strips of metal on the evaporator and surround the coils, right?  Are those rusting?  Aren't they made of aluminum?  I don't think I'd put paint on those.  You may interfere with the distrubtion of the "cold" and cause a total failure of the unit, or at the least, your coils mail begin freezing at which a total blockage of air flow will be created you won't get any air moving across the coils.  Other than the metal box the unit is in, I'm not sure what's rusting.  I've got 32-year-old evaporators that are still in operation and no rust....not even in my salty environment.  

There are spraypaints out there that claim to stop rust.  I deal with this issue on a grand scale, and I've tried everything.  There is nothing you can paint over rust to stop it.  You've got to first remove the rust or change the chemical properties of it.  A dipping of a rusty part in phosphoric acid will do a good job of arresting the rest and changing its chemical make up.  Naval jelly will do that too.  Then, you can begin the task of refinishing/paintint the item.  If you paint anything aluminum, you'll need to first apply a chemical to etch the surface, then a primer, or the paint won't stick.  

When I paint my engine parts, I first strip it down to the iron or bronze and then spray it with a zinc chromium spraypaint primer (I think that's what it's called - it's neon lime green).  Then I brush on Rustoleum enamel.  I had a very nasty, rusty heat exchanger that I was going to replace until I learned how many thousands of dollars they cost.  Instead, I used the process described above, and it sure is pretty two years later and not a hint of rust.  I just love to run my hand over it when I pass by the front of that engine.  Smooth, clean and still looks brand new.  Now, I've become anal about anyone leaving dirty fingerprints on my engines.  Smiling

This painting process isn't just for engines - it's for metal.  I refinished my window frames in this fashion.

If the insides of your AC unit are rusting, you may want to do a little research to find a manufacturer that uses better quality materials.  You'll pay more for it, but it will last longer - a tough lesson to fully learn and stick by, but I'm getting better at it.  I have noticed that Chinese stainless steel is nothing like that made in the USA.  There are too many inferior materials in Chinese metal.  After picking up some of that stuff and watching it rust in a few weeks, I made it a point to only buy made in the USA metals.

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Arks's picture
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Sanctuary wrote:

Painting the "fins" - you're talking about the little delecate strips of metal on the evaporator and surround the coils, right?  Are those rusting?  Aren't they made of aluminum?  I don't think I'd put paint on those.  

Surely they mean the ventilation openings on the outside of the unit, like on the right side in the photo below. I don't think a layer or two of paint added to those would do any harm.

 

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gillumhouse's picture
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Lily, Finally made it to the Lo we's for my A/C. Got a 5000 BTU for $99 Frid getaire. It is smaller than the 15 year old units and  LOT lighter and quieter! It has a plastic housing. That was my thought about the rust issue but was not certain they DID have plastic housing. I thought your rust issue was the housing of the A/C units, never thought about it being the guts of it. I think I will be going back for more of these for my other rooms. A lot less "broken back" for me.

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Thanks for the info, Gillumhouse!  Lowe's is on my errand list for next week anyway, so I'll look for these units.  The plastic housing would at least make the a/c's look better!  I'm also going to order a sample of a spray-on anti-corrosive product that is used in marine industries.  I'll try it on the "fins" of one of our existing units and see what happens.

Weaver's picture
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K, those are the best!!!!

I have them in 4 of the bedrooms and I don't even need DS to help move them.  Thank god cause he is leaving sooner than I want.

gillumhouse's picture
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Got delayed today. May go tomorrow. Too much going on here today to leave the phone in the hands of DH who did not want to go.

Silverspoon's picture
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 Welcome Lily!   What region are from...NE, Atlantic, South?  

We also have a coastal B+B with window AC.  We are in the NE and all the AC units are on the west side, away from the salt spray on the east side so we normally get about 3 years out of our units.  I really can't add anything to the thorough treatment mentioned by others.  Our ultimate solution is probably going to be to go toward a central unit outside with AC in the walls.  It's an old  house so that is are only option for AC, other than lugging the window units every summer.  Who ever thought that we would need AC here in the NE on the Atlantic....used to be that we could just open the windows and let the sea breeze cool us off.  Lately we have been having a dozen days during the summer when we REALLY need to put that AC on.  

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Madeleine's picture
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It's coming. It's always Memorial Day week, either before or after. We're just waiting for the rain to stop!

Grandson was at a track meet yesterday in WA and it was called off because it was just too wet! I bet that's a rare occurence, calling off anything due to rain in Seattle! He came in 3rd. Covered from head to toe in mud.

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Breakfast Diva's picture
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Welcome!

We  are also on the coast, but we don't have air conditioning since our location is still beautifully cool in the summer. A fan in the room is all that's needed. Sorry I can't be of more help!

 

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Breakfast Diva wrote:

Welcome!

We  are also on the coast, but we don't have air conditioning since our location is still beautifully cool in the summer. A fan in the room is all that's needed. Sorry I can't be of more help!

 

East vs West - HUMIDDDDDDD on the atlantic side. 

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Breakfast Diva's picture
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I don't know how any of you can deal with that humidity. It zaps every ounce of energy out of me!

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Breakfast Diva wrote:

I don't know how any of you can deal with that humidity. It zaps every ounce of energy out of me!

Now you can understand much of my marketing when I say "Come to the mountains!" or "Swimming and no sharks!" etc.  I actually work toward getting those folks at Virginia Beach, Maryland, etc to come on up here! Escape all of that.  And now you can imagine during hurricane season when they LOSE POWER for weeks or more how horrid it really can be, not the hurricane damage and all of that, just the loss of A/C!

Generic's picture
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Welcome.

Is the accumulation on the fins or inside. Newer AC units are made to keep liquid on the bottom as coolant, but if that is causing the problem you might benefit from drilling a hole in the bottom to let it drain out. They won't run as effeciently, but then salt water/air won't be accumulating under the machinery, which might help. (But I'm not sure of the effect on warranty.)

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white pine's picture
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Welcome Lily!  We have an eight unit motel and a historic lodge we are converting to an eight unit B&B.  You are not the only motel owner here!

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Ice
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Lily

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 Lily I may know you from Twitter, if it is you HELLO! If not then HELLO! 

There is a coastal B&B here and maybe she will pipe up with some info. We don't have rust except from the ferrous oxide in our water here.

gillumhouse's picture
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Welcome, Lily. I am not coastal but I am going looking for new A/C units tomorrow. My current units are OLD, heavy, and I doubt if they are efficient. They are UGLY! What made it so I could keep using them is they hang out of a second story window. I will let you know what I find. I do not know if they make what I am hoping to find - will tell you aye or nay tomorrow because it might help.

Arks's picture
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Glad to see you out in the open, Lily! My operation, also, is not a traditional B&B, and I got into a few fist fights here when I first arrived, but Swirt, the master of the forum, nicely put that to rest when he wrote, "he's welcome here...where else can he go?".

Same with you. I'm sure there are forums to help owners of huge hotels, but for a "small, costal, cottage-style motel" this is a wonderful source of both help and release of frustration.

Sorry I don't know anything about prolonging the life of AC units in a costal environment, but I certainly wanted to welcome you!

Weaver's picture
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Arkansawyer wrote:

"... not a traditional B&B, and I got into a few fist fights here when I first arrived, but Swirt, the master of the forum, nicely put that to rest when he wrote, "he's welcome here...where else can he go?".

 

You are such a troublemaker Arks.  Eye-wink

Welcome Lily, I am sure you will find a great deal of helpful information here. 

Many, many years ago a friend of the family had window units in their seaside cottage out west.  They took the units in mid September and brought them out the first of July.  They serviced them by washing first with soapy distilled water then wiping with good old fashioned rubbing alcohol since it drys very fast.  Then they took a vacuum on reverse (one might use a leaf blower or compressed air) and blew out all the water.  It bought them 3 seasons before having to replace them from the salt air and oxidation.  Not sure if it will help, but worth a try. 

My brother who spent 20+ years in the Coast Guard said to try spraying what you can with a rust inhibiting paint, and when you store them put them in a room with a dehumifier.

Good luck and welcome.

 

 

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04/07/2012

Thanks, all, for the welcome! 

Weaver, your friend's process is pretty much what we do now--though I never thought of rubbing alcohol.  Will definitely try that when we are taking the a/c units out of service this fall.  Storing them w/a dehumidifier is a good idea, too. We just got some of the rust-inhibiting paint to try on the poles of our patio umbrellas.  Think I'll test it out on one of our new a/c units and see how it goes.

Gillumhouse--looking forward to hearing the results of your shopping trip.

Arkansawyer--glad you got the fighting out of the way before I came along!

JB--I don't tweet, but I'm glad to meet you!

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