Robert Lamoureux: Elevator tips for unfamiliar territory
By Robert Lamoureux
Saturday, April 28th, 2018

Question No. 1

This question was posed to me while visiting a dear friend in the hospital recently. I was in the elevator when a woman asked me if I knew which level she could find the street on.

There were a couple of floors below the ground level of this building, and one was labeled as lobby. I looked at the panel of call buttons and saw the * next to one.

Answer No. 1

I began to explain to this woman that any time she’s in an elevator and sees that “*”: It is standard that this represents the street level of the building.

Not all lobbies are at the street level, so when folks are heading out and push the button for the lobby, they are not always exiting the building at the street. It’s a great trick to know, comes in handy especially when in unfamiliar territory and in need of exiting.

Question No. 2

I’m on a fixed income and at the end of last summer I opened the door to the closet where my furnace is and all of the pipes were iced up. It was only blowing warm air so I’d turn it off and let it thaw out. I’d turn it back on and within a short amount of time it would do the same thing.

Being on a fixed income, I have to be careful about being taken advantage of. Can you tell me what is causing this, so I know if the repair man is telling me the truth about what he needs to do?

Martha G.

Answer No. 2

Martha, one of a couple of things will cause this icing up. On the air handler, the item you’re calling the furnace most likely (depending on the configuration of your system), there is an intake filter.

If this filter is dirty and the air is not able to pass through easily due to the dirt and/or hair, it causes an uneven balance of air flow between the inside and outside, causing the reaction of icing. Another area that could be a cause would be the outside unit, the condenser, may have dirty coils or they could be blocked with plant life or stored items.

This unit is in need of proper air flow so be sure that all sides are clear for about 24 inches, so that this unit can breathe. To clean the coils, turn your unit off and take the garden hose to it, cleaning the coils with a light mist. Just enough dust and winter rains can cake on the dirt and cause air flow blockages. Be sure to be extremely gentle with this process, you shouldn’t use high pressure.

The second reason that this icing up can happen is that the unit may be low on refrigerant. This is the chemical that is inside the unit and the only person that can help with this is a licensed A/C repairman. They are licensed to use the chemical and can charge your unit and test it. Hopefully it’s just a dirty area for you, but if all of those checks don’t solve this problem, you’ll need to call the repairman.

Good luck, Martha.

Robert Lamoureux has 38 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Email questions to Robert at robert@imsconstruction.com.

About the author

Robert Lamoureux

Robert Lamoureux

Robert Lamoureux: Elevator tips for unfamiliar territory

Question No. 1

This question was posed to me while visiting a dear friend in the hospital recently. I was in the elevator when a woman asked me if I knew which level she could find the street on.

There were a couple of floors below the ground level of this building, and one was labeled as lobby. I looked at the panel of call buttons and saw the * next to one.

Answer No. 1

I began to explain to this woman that any time she’s in an elevator and sees that “*”: It is standard that this represents the street level of the building.

Not all lobbies are at the street level, so when folks are heading out and push the button for the lobby, they are not always exiting the building at the street. It’s a great trick to know, comes in handy especially when in unfamiliar territory and in need of exiting.

Question No. 2

I’m on a fixed income and at the end of last summer I opened the door to the closet where my furnace is and all of the pipes were iced up. It was only blowing warm air so I’d turn it off and let it thaw out. I’d turn it back on and within a short amount of time it would do the same thing.

Being on a fixed income, I have to be careful about being taken advantage of. Can you tell me what is causing this, so I know if the repair man is telling me the truth about what he needs to do?

Martha G.

Answer No. 2

Martha, one of a couple of things will cause this icing up. On the air handler, the item you’re calling the furnace most likely (depending on the configuration of your system), there is an intake filter.

If this filter is dirty and the air is not able to pass through easily due to the dirt and/or hair, it causes an uneven balance of air flow between the inside and outside, causing the reaction of icing. Another area that could be a cause would be the outside unit, the condenser, may have dirty coils or they could be blocked with plant life or stored items.

This unit is in need of proper air flow so be sure that all sides are clear for about 24 inches, so that this unit can breathe. To clean the coils, turn your unit off and take the garden hose to it, cleaning the coils with a light mist. Just enough dust and winter rains can cake on the dirt and cause air flow blockages. Be sure to be extremely gentle with this process, you shouldn’t use high pressure.

The second reason that this icing up can happen is that the unit may be low on refrigerant. This is the chemical that is inside the unit and the only person that can help with this is a licensed A/C repairman. They are licensed to use the chemical and can charge your unit and test it. Hopefully it’s just a dirty area for you, but if all of those checks don’t solve this problem, you’ll need to call the repairman.

Good luck, Martha.

Robert Lamoureux has 38 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Email questions to Robert at robert@imsconstruction.com.