The Misadventures Of Bessie

Dated: 10/07/2015

Views: 517

As part of my on-going blog for property owners, here's another great tip to save you money and a serious amount of aggravation -  and give you a chuckle, or a chortle or full-out guffaw, for the day.

hope you'll enjoy this cheeky little piece of writing; I've certainly enjoyed writing it. And best of all, it comes from personal experience - with a weeny splash of over-exaggeration, a pinch of hilarity, a dash of sarcasm and just the right amount of Hunter S. Thompson-ness.

Last blog's tip was about the Pool Python, a friendly little pool toy (tool?) that helps keep your pool clean when you are busy slugging down beers or shots of Tito's at Bokamper's and screaming at the TV during your favorite NFL match-up . If you missed it, check out their website, A great invention that keeps dirt, leaves and other "detritus" (such a great word), from flailing around in your pool like a lost puppy. And guys, take note, this enables one less chore on your "Honey Do" list. It's a deal!

Before we get started, in all seriousness - as seriousness must be disclosed before hilarity ensues - full disclosure here; ANY of the products that I mention on this blog we have used (or use) ourselves. We recommend these products because they work based on our personal experience. We have NO BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP with any of these vendors or products. We use them because they are great, and we personally believe that great products should be shared with the world; just like our real estate expertise.

Sorry, had to get that plug in there. Ok, on to the snark and hilarity.

This week, we are tackling the ever-fun world of Air Conditioning and the multiple things that can and do go wrong, especially when you need air conditioning the most.  Funny how that happens.. I am writing this particular blog today because over the past several months we have had drainage and clogging issues with our main A/C unit in our house and, just today I had to deal with it...yet again. I try to have a sense of humor when it comes to home fixes myself because I'm generally not good at fixing anything, unless it's an IPAD with a little person attached to it, shrieking for my Apple ID. That I CAN fix. 

Back to the task at hand. So, we have a 15 year old air conditioning unit that is still going strong, just a work horse that will not die. I've tried to kill it, but it labors on. Good little unit, keep cranking....the little unit that could .  We'll name her "Bessie". We have faithfully maintained Bessie every 6 months without fail since we bought our house in 2009. The problem is that every 6 months or so, or at the most in-opportune moment - like when we invite dinner guests over - Bessie has a drainage issue which results in no air conditioning. And wifey will look at me with that look - you know, it's the "what are you gonna do about it genius" look, followed by the eye daggers and the "I thought you fixed this before, genius and the dinner guests are due at 7:00" look.And, it's 6:35.

"Ok, I'm on it kid!"

Blockage issue?
That's doesn't sound good. Sounds like a personal problem. No, no,, let me explain.  Like many of the older air conditioning units in Florida, Bessie is usually in the attic. Because the attic is hot and the Bessie is belching out cold air, you'll get some serious moisture coming off her - yup...Bessie "sweats"

Just underneath Bessie lies a drain pan. We'll call him "Rusty" because after 15 years of solid service, that's just what he looks like. Attached to Rusty, there is usually some PVC piping ("Piper") that runs thru the attic, down and out of the house. Outside of your house, Piper takes the water from Rusty (our trusty drain pan if you are still following) which then exits your home and feeds the crabgrass you just can't get rid of, or makes a big muddy puddle that you step into at night - in the dark - on your way to deposit the trash and those empty bottles of Evan Williams in the recycling bin. 

Rusty will usually also have a "kill switch" that turns off Bessie if the water isn't draining and it builds to the level of overflow. Do yourself a favor now and check to see if you have a kill switch.  It's usually an attachment to your brain that goes off after your child has been nagging you about buying them gummy bears as a side to put on their ice cream at Menchie's.  No no no.... it's usually a little black piece of plastic with a metal clip that attaches to Rusty that is attached to Bessie by electrical wires. If you don't have one, get one and have it installed. On Bessie, not your cranium.  You don't want a situation where Rusty overflows, leaks through onto your brand new custom designed blue, yellow and red Paisley themed tray ceiling and it's all YOUR fault.

Ok, so back to Rusty. Over time, algae, rust and other "junk" from your attic may fall into the Rusty's wide open rectangular-ness; a piece of insulation, dust or perhaps a McDonald's "Minions" Happy Meal Toy.  Eventually what happens is that Piper gets clogged. Or, maybe on the outside of your house a bunch of dirt or leaves gets into Piper, or maybe a mouse named Glenda is living in there - who knows, there's an infinite number of possibilities for critters making a home in a 1" wide piece of Piper they consider low rent housing but is attached to YOUR house that looks and smells inviting, at them. 

Ok, so now you have a clogged Piper, a full Rusty, a non functional Bessie and an angry spouse. And the dinner guests are arriving in 20 minutes and you have no Bessie and if you don't address this issue RIGHT NOW, you will be guaranteed burnt pot roast for dinner. And not even Chateau Margaux 2009 Balthazar red can cover up the taste of burnt pot roast. Go ahead...I know you have to do it... Google Chateau Margaux 2009 Balthazar and see what comes up.'re back?  Rest assured, this will probably happen to you over the summer when it's boiling in Florida and you are on vacation on a tiny island in the Seychelles.  It's Murphy's Law...and Murphy knows best. A call to your local A/C tech is going to be at least $99 for a service call, and maybe more depending on their mood, which is never good as they are roasting in the attic of Hades in the Florida summer and no matter how good your "phone voice" is, somebody, somewhere, who will be servicing Bessie, is HOT & GRUMPY.

ENTER YOUR SECRET WEAPON. A $15 item that will now be Bessie's very best friend. This little guy is called the "Plung-It". Yup, it's a conical piece of plastic and it looks like junk. I'm not sure why it's not called "The Plunge-It", but so be it, Plung will have do. 


This is a high tech piece of plastic gadgetry that will forever allow you HERO status in your household. This little darling is a fantastic clog plunger for toilets and lots of other stuff....including, you guessed it, Piper, Rusty and Bessie!

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In today's adventure, I am lucky enough to have a very friendly neighbor named "Stu" who has just about every tool known to man and can fix anything, McGuyver-style

He is a great guy to have just next door and my Dali Lama regarding this kind of fixin' stuff. So, a quick visit to Stu's house, an explanation of my problem and the Dali laughs; he has faced this quandary before and emerged victorious. 

"I have just the thing", he says and coyly hands over "The Plung" with sly smile and a brief illustration of the required histrionics. 


Now I'm outside and I'm plunging Piper. Yeah. I did just say that.  Two slow and sultry plunges and one quick up and back "plunge" and out comes my culprit...a little guy named ALGAE. He's long, white and looks a bit like mucous, but this here's the bugger who has ruined my evening respite and future dinner. I keep plung-ing a couple more times and out comes a fountain of stink water and all over my hands too.  YECCHH!

But, I haven't won yet. Oh no, there's still a copious amount of putrid water in Piper and I don't expect ANYTHING I Plung to be fixed that easily. Murphy and I know each other very well, and I know that he knows that I know that there's another potential embarrassment just around the corner.   Don't ever mess with Murphy.  

So up we go into the attic as I yank the fold down ladder which collapses with a crash and just misses lacerating my ear by an inch.  Those fold out, spring loaded attic ladders can be a terror to your mind, yo!.  Whew, that was a close one.  That would be embarrassing, a busted skull and torn up ear would make for interesting dinner conversation indeed!  I escaped you again Murphy!

After climbing the ladder, Peter Parker style, and shimmying across the attic planks trying not to step on and shatter any water pipes, I have arrived at Bessie.  She is silent and strangely at ease.  Will she recover this recent insult, or will she burn away, like the last vestiges of a far away star, yearning for it's final resting place in the tranquil echoes of space?  I say Nay!  She will live again, Murphy be damned. 

Now this Plung is also a very nifty tool for removing water as it uses air pressure and is hollow inside and can easily be filled with water, kinda like how a WET VAC works.  Except, it's not easy to get a wet vac up fold out stairs in a Florida attic as it's a tight space, and Hades lives up there when Bessie isn't working.  So, it's me, the "the Plung" and my oldest, wisest and most trustworthy inanimate object, Bucket. 10 minutes of Plung slurping later, Rusty is empty, Bucket has quenched his thirst, and my Petunias are in a happy place.  I'm back in business!  

But wait!  There's more.  The story doesn't end here. 

I can't help myself, I must have a Plung.  

Feverishly, I log onto the internet because I have to give the Plung back to Stu before the guests arrive and I need to have a Plung myself.  Seconds later, the familiar visage of Amazon appears, stars speaking to me, ratings just yearning to be read, my credit card begging me Buy! Buy! Buy! something, anything, especially with free 2 day shipping.  

Hmm...let's see, Deer Rear with bottle opener, Unicorn meat, a tampon flask, The Badonkadonk, a reggae afro wig for much for sale.  

Ah, here we are, the Plung.

While clicking away on the Plung, I find yet another product that is going to help me avoid this Bessie, Rusty and Piper nonsense altogether. I've found some little blue Bessie Rx tablets that look just like Razzles, that you put into Rusty every month to avoid getting ALGAED.   They control stink, sludge, plugging (plung-ing?) and my personal favorite....SLIME!  $5.95 later, I'm covered!  

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The doorbell rings; Company arrives.  The smell of pot roast wafts in the air; the Chateau Margaux is popped (er, no, not really).  

Victory, is mine... 

Ok, seriously this blog was written today on a lark to have a bit of fun.   Every once in a while, it's good to do this kind of thing.  But this Plung stuff I'm talking about really works

So from my family to yours, it's time to hit Amazon (or your local Lowe's or Home Depot) and have a Plung!

If you got a kick out of this ol' chestnut, drop us a line. We'd love to hear from you. Better yet, if you have any tips or Thompson-esqe tales to share, I'd be happy to hear them as well!

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Rowan Samuel

Rowan Samuel has lived many lives. Originally from Zimbabwe (Rhodesia), he and his family immigrated to the U.S. in 1980 to escape the brutal Mugabe regime - they lost everything when they came to Am....

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