Summer heat

2013-09-08 16.53.23My wife sent me a text today about some birds and the heat took them away from their owners. Here’s the meat of the text:

Now that I have had a little time to accept things, I wanted to let others know of our tragedy and thank you all for your thoughts, prayers, lightings, etc.

We woke Sunday moring to a horiffic tragedy.  Somehow the AC exhaust in our bird room came loose from the AC unit.  My youngest daughter went to check Bird Butlers and found all 6 birds had succumbed to the overwhelming heat and fumes.  It was an incredibly trying morning, as has been each day since.  🙁

Brokenhearted, we have had to say our goodbyes to Giselle (Hyacinth), Zazoo (GW), Jarvis (Catalina), Cassie (Catalina), Max (Blue-throated macaw) and Wally (Blue-crowned Mealy amazon).  Our entire family is devastated!

As one can only imagine, we all feel horrible and somehow responsible.  We have already begun counseling as a family.  Having lost a son, I can honestly say this horrible tragedy feels like losing 6 children all in one accident.  I hope no one EVER has to go through something like this.

That being said…PLEASE do not use portable AC units in or around child or pets!  The exhaust hoses are not permanently attached and can easily be disconnected.  Please help assure the safety of all in your home and have an externally mounted AC unit installed by a professional!

Having spent a decade doing this type of work and another decade working in IT for an industrial mechanical contractor that does this type of work, I can say that it took me aback when this mentioned exhaust fumes–because there are no fumes that come from a portable air conditioner. The “exhaust” is nothing more than a flexible duct put around the housing of an air conditioner condenser.

Or put another way, the portable air conditioner is exactly like a typical window unit with the exception the “outside” (condenser) having a housing over it and some wheels. If we’ve all seen a window unit, we all know it blows hot out the back. So picture that with a housing on it and a piece of flexible duct that blows the hot away from the area you are cooling.


That’s what a typical home type of portable air conditioner looks like. These are perfectly safe and do not exhaust or vent fumes. They might require duct tape that can keep the flexible duct in place as it blows the room heat out of the room.

An air conditioner is simply a device that takes air and changes the temperature of it. It does this by forcing the air through a coil of copper that holds a compressed refrigerant. The compressor pushes the refrigerant through a condenser which has air blown over it. The air blowing over it pulls heat out of the refrigerant and cools it down and the refrigerant is pushed along to the evaporator where a fan blows more air over the evaporator. The air blowing over the evaporator is where the cold air comes from. In this process, the refrigerant is heated back up and passed back to the condenser to start the process anew. Likewise, air blowing over the condenser is where hot air comes from. If you reverse this process, it is what is known as a heat pump.

A portable air conditioner is what we use to cool server rooms when there are either planned air conditioner / chiller repairs or there is an emergency call for cooling. I’ve used these in my own server room unattended. The ones we use look like this.


Unfortunately, in this case with the birbs, it sounds like the duct tape failed and the flexible duct came loose from the window allowing the room to heat up and kill the precious birbs.

The owners give fair warning that one should get a professional to install a portable window unit. However, I can say that not all duct tape is created equal. There are dozens of duct tapes on the professional market and countless others than the average Joe can get. Most of the ones people get in a hardware store are pretty weak compared to what is used in the professional world of HVAC.

Duct tapes can be costly. There are some that are heat activated and stick better when it gets hot. Polyken is my favorite brand here. Nashua is another. But they are costly. They will be pricedup to 10 times higher than what you could get at a hardware store. Many of your good tapes cost $15-25 per roll.

I have done a couple of tests years ago with these tapes. I took a strip of tape from one regular hardware store roll of duct tape and a strip from a Polyken roll and put one on each side of a pickup tailgate and tried to open the tailgate. The side with the normal duct tape cape off easily while the side with the Polyken took me putting my full 6’4″ and 200 lb frame into it to get the tape to pull loose. These tapes are no joke. Some even come in metal. Yes, metal tape–but that’s an entirely different story.

With all of these extraneous things like tapes and different units, that might be a plus for getting a professional to set one up. He has the tools and equipment and knowledge to do so. But if you know what you are doing and have the right tools yourself, you can easily do this yourself… safely. For you and your birbs.

I honestly can’t imagine what losing all of your birbs are like.

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