Monday, September 24, 2018

Sunburned And A Coverup

That small condenser on the right is part of the heat-pump mini-split we use to keep the living quarters comfortable in heat and cold. (though the wife's definition of comfortable differs from mine and i have to wear a jacket inside during the summer!)

Eleven years ago we built a platform beside the barn 9 feet in the air, (because installing AC units on the ground is pure insanity!) and a friend with the requisite skills installed our airconditioner(s) up there.

Because it's up and away from the dust, debris, and condenser-choking plants down at ground level, it only takes a quick wash-down with the hose once a year to keep things in top shape.

But one thing you can say with certainty about the Texas summer sun is that it is brutal. Even a mid-morning sun is strong enough to burn holes right through the trees.

There's about 6 feet of copper supply and return lines between the condenser and the pipe that penetrates the barn roof and 11 years of Texas sun has not been kind to the insulation protecting those lines. Now the once smooth and supple foam is all alligatorey and brittle and not very insulatey.

You are looking at the top of the big airconditioner we installed to take care of the main part of the barn. That turned out to be one colossal waste of money since it has never actually been used. . .

After taking a few quick measurements I picked up 12 feet of pipe insulation, the stuff that looks like a skinny pool-noodle, for about $5 on our next shopping run. Then I grabbed my cutters and some scrap solid copper wire and climbed up on top of the platform. The platform that was already blazing hot despite the early hour.

To avoid stripping the existing insulation off the copper pipes and making one hell of a mess on the ground below which would eventually wash down into the pond if I didn't painstakingly pick up every last scrap, I decided to just leave it in place despite the bad shape it's in and bought pipe-insulation with a one inch inside diameter that would fit right over the existing stuff.

It grabs on pretty tightly all on its own, but to help keep the new insulation in place, you know, during the next hurricane, I cut a few lengths of the solid wire and wrapped them with a simple quarter-twist, taking care not to wrap them too tightly (Unlike me according to The Wife) so I didn't squeeze all the insulation value out of the - well - insulation.

The green plastic coating on the wire is going to get sunburned and eventually start to fail, but the wire itself will outlast more Texas summers than I have in me, so it will be fine.

The whole job, the part actually up on the platform anyway, only took 20 minutes or so, which was fortunate considering that I did this in mid-August, the hottest, sunniest month of the year around here.


  1. Another job 'well done' ... your wife is probably going to have to print out more of those certificates she awards you for this kind of stuff around the house. LOL

    1. Nope, no additional certificates needed. She handles them on an 'as-earned' basis. She hands one out when I do good, and takes one back when I do bad. . . My personal stack of earned certificates is perpetually low. . .