AC install problem, need advice

Hello group.. We recently sold our house and our lovely neighbors across the street (older couple) who live in Colorado in the summer insisted we stay at their house while our new house is being completed. We have been doing some things around their house to show our appreciation. The first thing I mentioned to them as they were leaving was I would change the AC filter..Andy (the wife) indicated to me that Louis (the husband) had just "taken care of it" Okay..Great..Well, in the first week we were there we had noticed that the AC could not cool the house down..I had set the stat on 81 during the day to come on to 79 in the evening..It could not achieve this and would run constantly...So, I started to poke around..First thing I did was to check the filter, so I pulled the side panel off the furnace (Janatrol, doesn't look too old) and what I found inside was one of those expensive electrostatic filters..I pulled it out, and the elements are black so I could not tell if it was clean but I could not see light thru it..I had noticed that it was tilted, like the fan had sucked it upwards. I then put the side panel back on the furnace and turned the AC on and there was a remarkable increase of air flow, even the intake sounded different...I noted the size of the filter and went to HD and bought a good grade filter, but what I found is this..I cannot see how the filter is supposed to be locked in place..The old filter was a 16x25, and I had a hell of a time getting it out the door..Being the fan is mounted so low I had to jimmy it out..Well the new one being more flexible, I was able to get it in there but it seems the hole in the bottom of the furnace is exactly the same size..That would tell me that the filter must need to be wider but from the experience I had that would be nearly impossible to get it in there..In furnaces that I had in the past, there were metal framing that retained the filter..This thing has nothing in the back, nor nothing along the sides..The only thing it has is a lip in the front, about the same size as the edge of the filter and you "wedge" it down there..But be careful, or you push the filter into the lower intake box...It really looks like to me that the filter needs to be wider to cover the hole properly but I don't see how you could get it thru the door..But still, nothing to hold the filter down? It appears to me as soon as the filter gets some crud on it the pressure will just suck it back up too..The side wall of the furnace above the right side of the filter indicates that has happened a lot as there was black crud on the cabinet sides(this was the side the old filter was lifted on)..My concern is what the evap probably looks like...But, with no filter and with this new one, the AC blew hard, and cooled the house..As a matter of fact in the master BR, the air came out so strong it blew the dust off the ceiling fan all over the bed!! I would like to try to fix this for them, aside of having something replaced, but don't know what I should do..Our furnace we had a filter box installed under it so we didn't have this trouble... Any suggestions from the AC guys would be super appreciated...It almost looks like it should have an 18x25 filter if they even make that size but I have no idea how I would get it thru the door..My other thought was to get some 2"x25" metal slats and create a lip along the sides of the opening to prevent the filter from falling in but there is still the issue of holding the filter down... Thanks in advance!!! John
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Can you give us the model & serial numbers off the airhandler and evaporator?
A picture would be nice.
On Fri, 6 Aug 2004 07:48:14 -0500, "John"

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You say they left you the house and they are not there ? Very nice of them. From what you say it needs a complete cleaning and a real filter, do them a favor and get a pro to clean it and do what is necessary to fix the problem. Coil cleaning, blower wheel, etc are better left to pros. Even the cost of a real filter like Air Bear will be apreciated. Stay away from April Air 2200 media. You are lucky to be staying there and are saving allot of money. You should tell them first that you are doing this and are paying for the cleaning and check up, and see what the pro says about the filter set up. Your neighbor-friend will apreciate it.
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Yes, they are gone but we have been close friends for many years..We have always taken care of their house in the Summer while they are gone to Colorado (grass watering/cutting, maintainance) so the favor has not gone unpaid..Also we have done several creature comfort upgrades since we have been there..Your advice about a cleaning is a good idea, as she is a HEAVY smoker...Only thing, I am sure this would cost a fortune as the furnace is in a inside hall closet, and the evap sits on top and my guess is they would have to take the entire thing out to fix or clean it...I have installed a MERV 7 filter, to prevent it from getting worse..Might take your advice and have someone come for a "look see" as I doubt they have done any preventative maintainance....I am not even sure the system is the right size or even installed correctly..The whole thing is Janatrol which makes me wonder..I think they had it replaced in the last ten years..I did a quick look at the evap case and it does not appear to have a removable panel on the front which concerns me as well.... Thanks so much!!! John

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When I used to work for Sears, my trainer used to clean those electrostatic elements by filling the laundry sink with the hottest water he could get. And then sprinkle in a bunch of pwd automatic dish washer detergent. Stir that in, and soak the electrostatic element in that.
It had to be totally dried before it was turned on again.
I've had some good luck with one of the coil cleaners available to refrigeration guys, it cleans off smokers film very nicely. Might restore the air flow.
You sound like a good friend to have.
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Christopher A. Young
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