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chedemefedeme
May 25, 2007

Until then I need your help
figuring out the logistics!

So I've got a shed I built perhaps 6 years ago out behind the house. Did all the construction well, have cement board siding and a shingled roof on it, and split it in half. One half has a garage door and I park the riding mower in there while the other half is insulated and has a window air conditioner in it and serves as climate controlled storage for one operating server and a bunch of storage crap from the house that we dont want damaged in the attic.

This has all worked out reasonably well but today I had to go out to the shed to slap the server back into consciousness after it did something dumb and found that my lungs felt kindof irritated just being out there a few minutes. Upon looking around I realize there's mold growing INSIDE the air conditioner. Crrrraaapp.

I'm pretty ticked off and am not entirely sure what to do here. It was a very cheap ~$100 window unit AC so I'm not married to the thing I just don't want to replace it only to have this happen again to another unit. What did I do wrong to create this? My house has its AC running all through the Texas summer and I've never had a spot of mold in my home. Why out in the shed when it is a constant 76 degrees with decent circulation?

How can mold even grow in the AC in the hot dry summer in Texas? The thing runs nearly all the time to keep the room cold vs the server heating it up so the air in there should be pretty dry...shouldnt it? It hasn't rained in perhaps 60 days.


Anyway, I suppose I'm asking for advice in two areas:
1) How the hell does mold grow in a window AC unit, why haven't I had this issue for 6 years up till now, and what do I do to prevent this in the future?
2) Any advice as a whole on keeping a small enclosed space like that free of mold? A dedicated dehumidifier? I thought the AC unit would serve that function...


I'll be over here coughing up my lungs. Thanks.




Edit: Is there a difference between window units and split units when it comes to mold chances? I'm not opposed to putting a little sub $800 split unit in the shed. I've had mold ruin things in a past house and am genuinely NOT interested in having it occur in the climate control part of our shed. We were planning to put proper shelves out there and store more of my tech items out there so I'd really like to knock this issue in a way that does NOT recur.

chedemefedeme fucked around with this message at 16:58 on Aug 23, 2015

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ExplodingSims
Aug 17, 2010

RAGDOLL
FLIPPIN IN A MOVIE
HOT DAMN
THINK I MADE A POOPIE




Windowshakers just grow mold. It's what they do.

It has to do with the way the condensate pan works on those mostly. They do have a drain hole, but they also have a little wheel assembly inside that flings the water around up into the condenser to help keep it cool. And the drain hole tends to get plugged up pretty easily. So you tend to end up with a bit of standing water in there, and over time the insides just get nasty and moldy. And occasionally full of leaves and garbage too.

E. Also, dust accumulation in the vents can help facilitate the growth of mold, so make sure you're keeping it clean.
E^2: The materials used in windowshakers also help contribute to the growth of mold. Whereas you have fiberglass and metal being used in most splits/package units, window units use Styrofoam to separate the evap from the compressor/condenser area.

The reason you don't get mold inside your central AC is because your air handler doesn't get much standing water in it, has to do with the amount of dry air that's circulated though it. You pretty much constantly have dry, cool air circulating through it because of the evap coil, and it's should be properly sealed from the return to the supply, so no outside humidity can get in. Humidity control is actually a big thing in the HVAC trade and you can quite easily end up with mold/humidity with things like improper airflow, over sized equipment, etc...

You can get some mold in your air handler if it isn't sealed properly though, due to improper insulation in the 4 piece, or the return being improperly done, or if the panels aren't sealed all the way.
(Side note: Commercial Package units are the grossest goddamn things.)

The best option for mold control would be to get a minisplit for your room. Totally sealed off from the outside, energy efficient, and you can run multiple evaps if you need to.

ExplodingSims fucked around with this message at 18:36 on Aug 23, 2015

chedemefedeme
May 25, 2007

Until then I need your help
figuring out the logistics!

Though I'm not thrilled in the AC equipment expense for the tiny room going from $100 to $800 I am liking the look of the split systems I'm seeing. The foam barrier in the back of this window unit is precisely what the mold is all up on.

Am I reading correctly that its basically required to have a hvac tech come out and do the leak test and line purge to fire the sucker up or is there some way for me to DIY that without too many expensive tools? I'm not opposed to paying someone to come out and do it but I've yet to find a hvac company around here that doesn't charge 4x what is reasonable and attempt to cheat on what's even necessary.

ExplodingSims
Aug 17, 2010

RAGDOLL
FLIPPIN IN A MOVIE
HOT DAMN
THINK I MADE A POOPIE




It depends on what system you're looking at.
I assume you're talking about a ductless mini-split system? The answer to that is that you probably don't need a HVAC tech, as long as you can find someone to sell you the equipment.

Most supply houses won't sell that stuff to anyone without a contractor's license, but I think you can order mini-splits online. The assembly isn't hard on those, since it's all flare connections usually, and the lineset can be bought pre-flared and insulated. The install isn't too hard, it's basically hang the evap, bolt down the condenser, run the lineset, and since mini-spits are all high voltage you just need to run wires from the disconnect box to the condenser, and from the condenser to the evap. This can be done with Romex.

Of course, you'll still need a gaugeset, micron-display, vacuum pump, and the refrigerant will be the hard part to come by. All mini-splits take 410a, so you'll have to get your hands on that, and weigh in the correct charge.

I know some mini-splits will come with a 410a charge in the condenser, but the amount of refrigerant you need changes on the lineset length.

chedemefedeme
May 25, 2007

Until then I need your help
figuring out the logistics!

Oh yeah the systems are available on Amazon quite easily and the electrical work is no problem whatsoever for me but it's the vacuum pumping part I'm fairly confident I'm not qualified to do and am somewhat afraid of some AC company charging me $$$ to do it because they're P'd they didn't get to perform the install.

Otherwise everything I see about these seems like they're vastly, vastly superior to window units.

ExplodingSims
Aug 17, 2010

RAGDOLL
FLIPPIN IN A MOVIE
HOT DAMN
THINK I MADE A POOPIE




Vaccing a system isn't hard. Especially with the all flare setup you get with a mini-split.
You can rent a pump and gauge set from from Autozone, and a cheapo micron gauge isn't that much.

Still, if you're not confident in yourself, you can always go the "Find a tech who's willing to do some easy sidework for $100 route"

Jeff Gerber
Jul 22, 2007
Well it ain't soy sauce!

If there is enough room in the condensate drain of your window unit you can start putting drain tablets in it occasionally.

http://www.homedepot.com/p/AC-Safe-Air-Conditioner-Pan-Tablets-6-Pack-AC-912/100665383 something like this or similar.

Pop the front of the unit off. Use a pump sprayer with some non corrosive cleaner in it to wash your evaporator coil and spray out your drain pan and drain line/hole. Then just pop a tablet in there every so often.

It's not as glorious as having a nice split setup, but it would be a hell of a lot cheaper.

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iForge
Oct 28, 2010

Apple's new "iBlacksmith Suite: Professional Edition" features the iForge, iAnvil, and the iHammer.

If you dont have HVAC experience, I dont recommend trying to install your own system. There are way too many variables to account for to DIY it, just pay someone. It will cost you more to buy the tools you need than to just give a friend of a friend $150 and a 6pack to hook it up.

Edit: how big is the shed? . A/c units cool the air but also dehumidify, if your new unit is oversize it will short cycle and not properly dehumidify the space, and you will have increased wear and tear on the unit from it banging on and off all the time. Make sure you do your research on sizing the unit properly.

iForge fucked around with this message at 20:59 on Mar 15, 2016

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