Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


Fight Seed — and Cicada! — Clogs

You can DIY a solution, but here is a company with a ready-made option

Fig. 1: Filters from Air Solution Co. keep debris out of air conditioners. Retired resident guru and frequent Workbench contributor Marc Mann weighed in on our discussion of “do it yourself” ways to keep A/C condenser coils clean (July 20 and Sept. 1 issues). Most manufacturers of air conditioners don’t provide filters for this. But we know the outcome when we fail to clean condensers on a regular basis.

DIY approaches work, but how well? Marc discovered a company whose core product prevents “airborne debris” from clogging the condensers of wall pack air conditioners, air handlers and rooftop units (see Fig. 1).

Air Solution Co. of Ohio manufactures custom coil filters to your specification and specializes in cottonwood air intake filter screens. They are designed to stop airborne debris at the point of entry.

What appears to set these apart from DIY solutions is the filter material used (three grades) and how they are attached to the condenser. The material is a vinyl-coated polyester medium that has “high volume and high velocity airflow with extraordinary low air resistance and static pressure impact.”

It also has other benefits, listed on their website ( Be sure to check out the demonstration videos.

Fig. 2: It’s easy to change or replace filters, with no tools; just flip the quick release toggle fastener.

Fig. 3: An example of the installed mesh filter from Air Solution Co. The pliable mesh screen can be easily removed or changed for cleaning using a quick-release toggle fastener technology, shown in Fig. 2. These little fasteners fit through the grommeted holes of the filter mesh, and flip down to lock the filter in place. In areas where hail is common, a filter standoff “hail guard” keeps hailstones from damaging the air handler or condenser coils. For particularly dusty areas, the company has developed a dual-ply filter that traps small particulates.

The filters can be used for transmitter building air intakes where ambient air is used to cool.

The company also claims “rain can rinse them clean” and “It only takes a few quick swipes of a broom, brush or shop vacuum or rinse with a garden hose” for a thorough cleaning.

While you are on the website, take a look at the energy savings calculator page to get an idea about cost savings and payback. Their “wall of shame” page is a good reason to invest in filtering — especially during cottonwood season.

Marc suggests Workbench readers take a look at these offerings to see if they have an application that would reduce condenser/air handler maintenance. Fig. 3 shows a completed filter installation.

Here’s an interesting side note. In the spring and summer, usually from mid-May to mid-June, the 17-year periodic cicada broods are scheduled to emerge in a number of states. This was an especially bad year for some states. So, that means we wait another 17 years? No! In the United States, there are 23 identified broods, and one recently was discovered in Ohio and Kentucky — referred to as Brood OHKY.

In 2016, Brood V, a 17-year variety, emerged in New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. But in 2017, Brood VI (also a 17-year variety) will emerge in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. Then in 2018, Brood VII, another 17-year variety, will emerge in New York. So in certain states there’s no getting away from them.

Unfortunately, although cicadas are harmless to humans, they are attracted to the sound of mechanical equipment. Without filtering in place they can get sucked in, which affects the operating performance of your equipment.

The weather plays an important part as to when cicadas will emerge. A cool spring delays emergence until later in the season. They usually begin to emerge when the ground temperatures 8 inches below the surface reach 64 degrees Fahrenheit. When cicadas emerge, they will be a problem for several weeks, so readers in the affected states should take precautions to manage them.


I received some nice comments about Buc Fitch’s inexpensive audio amplifier using the German-made KEMO amplifier brick (RW Oct. 26 issue).

Buc received some comments too, including a couple readers who were perplexed why he bothered to build something when one could just buy it.

Good point, but Buc adds that the experience was not about the amp, rather about him. He loves to build things, to put his personal stamp on something.

It goes further than that. Buc has adopted an attitude that the more you know, the better your decisions. And how do you learn? By doing. And you learn something every time you “do” in this business. On top of that, the best lessons are the expensive ones, as you never repeat them.

Watch for another of Buc’s construction projects soon.

Contribute to Workbench. You’ll help your fellow engineers and qualify for SBE recertification credit. Send tips to [email protected]. Fax to (603) 472-4944.

Author John Bisset has spent 46 years in the broadcasting industry and is still learning. He handles West Coast sales for the Telos Alliance. He is SBE certified and a past recipient of the SBE’s Educator of the Year Award.