My dear friend, critique partner, and sports romance author extraordinaire, Julie Brannagh told me about this $20 air conditioner Youtube sensation because she knows how much I loathe being hot. Click HERE or on the image to see the video for yourself.
Yesterday, I blogged about my adventures at Lowes and how easily I blew my $20 project budget (PART 1). I ended the post with two materials missing from my inventory: The bucket liner and the fan.
Minus those two items, I was at $40 already, including:
-A 5-gallon bucket & lid from Lowes
-3 pieces of 1.5″ PVC piping
-2 hole saws (2 1/8″ & 2 1/4″)
-2 gal water for freezing
-A utility knife
With my 3yo son, I leave Lowes disappointed I didn’t get everything on my materials list but determined to gather up the stragglers on Amazon. Because just about everything you could possibly want is available on Amazon. I’m a Seattlite AND an Amazon Prime member. This means I can often get items delivered for free or the next business day. It’s pretty sweet.
Imagine my surprise when I log onto Amazon and find they do not carry the bucket liners shown in the video. WHAT?! How can Amazon not carry something as simple as a foam bucket liner? Especially when I KNOW other people have been looking for them because the item list that came up when I searched for “5 gallon bucket liner” included 5 gallon buckets, 6″ fans, and PVC pipe sections: the exact materials used in this DIY project.
Amazon is usually so good at reading their customers and catering to their needs. I think Amazon knows what people need before they know it themselves. Amazon is like the perfect British butler in that way.
But my digital-shopping butler let me down. No, Amazon, NOOOOOOOO!!!!! You’re missing a great opportunity here! Do you KNOW how many people are trying to build this DIY AC-in-a-bucket? Probably thousands! You could be cleaning up on bucket liners!
Okay. Enough scolding my butler. He’s usually very efficient and discrete with my secrets, and nobody’s perfect. At least I have the entire internet at my disposal.
So I do a broader search for 5 gallon bucket liners. The only place I can find them: Home Depot. (That might have been nice to know in the video…”Oh, by the way, intrepid DIY viewer, don’t attempt to find a bucket and liner anywhere but at Home Depot. They’re the only ones that make the liner you’re seeing here.” Would that have been so hard?) Furthermore, they only come in packs of 3 if bought online. For $17.91. Plus $11.50 shipping & handling.
Seriously? That’s almost $30 for three bucket liners! I only need one, and I can get a foam cooler in the shape of a rectangle at my grocery store for $3.
I realize that if I want to make this project exactly as it appears in the video, I am either going to have to make the dreaded drive to Home Depot (see PART 1 for why I do NOT like driving to Home Depot) OR I will have to vastly increase the budget for this project. It was supposed to be a $20 project, but I’m already at twice that. I refuse to make it a $50 project (and that’s not even including the fan!), so I bite the bullet and drive to Home Depot.
I only need to check my iPhone once for directions as I meander the unfamiliar streets of Seattle’s SODO district: think industrial and somewhat seedy but also artsy. Fortunately, I got to stop for a looooong train, so I had plenty of time to look at my Google Map and figure out where I was going.
Once the train passed, I find Home Depot relatively easily. No wrong turns, no ending up going the wrong way on a busy down-town street. I’m wiping my brow by this point and nearly sagging with relief that I’m about to purchase a single bucket liner for a reasonable price at the only store in all creation that apparently sells them.
My mom is with me. She graciously agrees to wait in the car with the kids so this quick errand doesn’t turn into a fiasco. (Anyone with kids knows there’s no such thing as a quick stop at the store).
There’s a host at the front when I enter the store. He’s wearing glasses and a tie and looks very helpful. I ask him where the bucket liners are. I even spot a display of 5 gallon buckets and PVC pipes, and I think to myself, Yup, they’re getting a lot of DIY AC-in-a-bucket folks in here. I bet the bucket liners are right over there.
The helpful employee in a tie has NEVER HEARD OF BUCKET LINERS! He has to look up the item on his phone to figure out what the heck I’m talking about.
Another employee comes over. This one is in a smock and looks like he might know the inventory a little better than Poindexter. I ask him for the bucket liners.
“Oh, yeah. I’ve seen that video,” he says. “We don’t carry those,” he says.
What do you mean, you don’t CARRY those?! You’re Home Depot! You’re the ONLY place that carries those, and I NEED THOSE! I HAVE KIDS IN THE CAR! I’M OVER BUDGET ON MY PROJECT! GIVE ME AN EFFING BUCKET LINER!
I don’t say any of this, though, because I’m a very sweet, rational person once the filter kicks in. What I say is, “Do you know where I can find a liner for a 5 gallon bucket?” My soul for a liner for a 5 gallon bucket!
“Nope, sorry. Good luck.”
Woodenly, I get in the car and tell my mom about the exchange with the Home Depot employees. I mean, seriously, why would they have an entire end display devoted to this AC-in-a-bucket project AND NOT HAVE THE NECESSARY BUCKET LINERS THAT ONLY THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO HAVE?!
Mom is livid on my behalf. She knows how much I didn’t want to drive to Home Depot. She knows how much I loathe being hot and how much I want to build this goshdarnmothereffing AC in a bucket.
I appreciate her support, but this doesn’t stop me from crying a little as I drive home, because not only have I wasted an hour of all our lives, but I get lost driving out of SODO and end up in Renton (don’t ask). I no longer feel like going grocery shopping, like I had planned. Instead, I cart everyone home, go online, and pay an arm and a leg for three bucket liners. I figure, I can use the additional two liners to make ACs-in-a-bucket for some friends who hate the heat as much as I do. Some people knit for their friends. I build odd DIY projects for them.
I get around the shipping cost by adding enough items to my cart to get free shipping. That’s the good news. The bad news is, I’ve already ordered a 6″ fan from Amazon. The fan is the last item I needed to complete my project. I could have used the fan to bring me up to the free shipping ceiling, but it was too late. So I buy $30 worth of storage stuff I won’t need until my kitchen remodel, which is several months away.
I have now spent $105 on my $20 AC-in-a-bucket, and I still have no AC-in-a-bucket. Why?
Because the bucket liners won’t arrive for two weeks. TWO WEEKS! I learn this after I make my purchase. Thanks, Home Depot.
“But never fear,” Home Depot tells me, “the rest of the items in your order will arrive in 4 business days.”
Awesome. I get the stuff I don’t really need and just bought to get free shipping (am I the only one that does this) lickety-split, but I have to WAIT 14 HOT, SWEATY DAYS for my bucket liners.
Thus ends part two of my saga. I am currently $85 over budget and two weeks from a completed AC-in-a-bucket.
I am filled with rage. I am apparently not a very good DIY person. Yet I refuse to give up. I will build this project, and it will be awesome.
It might be a while, but I’ll be back with more AC-in-a-bucket Saga. In two weeks.
In the meantime, enjoy these images of the little bit of progress I’ve made on what I can do without the liner:
To the left: Cut-out for fan, which I completed with the nifty new utility knife I bought.
(Home Depot, take note. I ordered this fan from Amazon on Saturday evening. It arrived Tuesday morning. That’s 3 days, 1.5, if you count only business days. Just sayin’.)
To the right: Frozen water.
So glad I’ll have these enormous jugs in my freezer for two weeks while I wait for the bucket liners to come.
Note to any spouses glimpsing the words “enormous jugs” over the shoulder of the person reading this post: I’m talking about water. Just water.
So the saga continues. I may attempt to make something work with one of those $3 coolers I mentioned I could get from the grocery store.
Thanks for reading! Do share DIY projects you’ve attempted that have not gone quite as expected.