Finding relief from the summer heat is not as costly as it may seem. Whether you don’t have central air conditioning or if your air conditioner just isn’t carrying the load, then installing a window air conditioner may be what’s in order. Window air conditioning units come in many sizes and are perhaps a lot less expensive than you may have thought, ranging from about $129.99 (can service a 150 sq ft area, larger than a 10’x10′ room) and up. Here we will guide you step by step through how to install a window air conditioner.
Before You Begin
Window air conditioner units come in many styles and sizes and can handle the load of cooling small closet size rooms to somewhat large rooms. Information you will need is the window size, the required BTU value of the unit, and available electrical outlets in the vicinity of the window where you want to install the unit. To find the BTU required, you will need to know the size of the room, the average temperature of the summer heat, and the desired comfort temperature of the room. Calculator.net has a free BTU calculator that you can input these values and find the size unit you need.
Now that you know the correct size of the air conditioner unit, it’s time to make the purchase. When deciding on which one to buy, I will repeat, keep in mind the window size and the available electrical outlets. Smaller units can plug into a regular 120-volt outlet, but some larger units require 240 volts. If you do not have the right outlet available, contact a licensed electrical contractor to install one for you. Do NOT use an extension cord to power your air conditioner. The more plug connections in an electrical circuit, the greater the risk of an electrical fire. Extension cords are NOT to be used as a permanent solution.
The next things to consider is the window itself. The bottom sash should be able to open and close by sliding up and down. Also, inspect the integrity of the window. Are there cracks or defects in the window frame? Are there cracks in the window itself? If there are any, you should either have the window repaired or replaced, or find a different summer home for your unit. Keep in mind that it is the window that supports the unit, so you want to ensure it is solid enough to keep it safely in place. Window air conditioner units can be purchased at some retailers and most hardware stores.
Preassemble the Unit
If you have purchased a window air conditioner new, then you should have all the hardware and instructions handy to preassemble the unit. With most units, you will need to attach the top support flange, which is what is going to rest against the inside face of the sash. The next step is to attach the side panels.
Depending on the size of the unit, this will be the point to install the outside support brackets. Most windows are sufficient to support smaller units, but larger units require extra support due to their size and weight. Your new unit should have the proper hardware to do so. Now also would be a good time to clean the window sill and sash, which is a recommended home maintenance item anyways.
Now that you have the unit preassembled and have made sure the window is in tip-top shape, it’s time to grab a friend (or two) and set the air conditioner in place.
Set Unit in Place
Now for the fun part. Begin with opening the bottom sash as far as it will open, but don’t force it. With help from the friend that you recruited, and we hope at the very least pizza was involved, set the air conditioner in the window frame, and fit the unit such that the bottom flange rests against the outside sill. Lower the sash against the top of the unit and allow the top flange of the unit to rest against the inside face of the sash. If you installed the extra support brackets, make sure the unit is set in place per the manufacturer’s instructions.
Slide the side panels out and secure them to the window frame. These panels are made fill the gap between your window unit and the frame, both to add support and separate your living space from the elements. Your window air conditioner unit is now installed! But wait, there are still a few things left to do…
Your unit may have come with L brackets to secure the sash from moving up and letting the unit fall out of the window. These should be attached with screws. If you have a wooden window, it is recommended to first drill a pilot hole, as the screw can split the wood without one. To do this, drill a hole that is slightly smaller than the core of the screw, and only drill as deep as the screw is long.
If the window frame is vinyl, you can either use the screws or cut strips of wood so you don’t leave holes in the frame. Measure the distance from the top of the sash to the inside of the top frame. It is recommended to measure both sides as they may not be exactly equal. Cut each piece to length, and wedge them in on each side of the window frame to keep the bottom sash from opening. Please, do NOT force these pieces in. If it requires more than just a little bit of effort, they are too long. Using framing wood that is 1″ x 2″ should suffice.
The last thing to do is to add weather stripping. This should have been included in your new unit. If not, or if you are using an older unit, weather stripping for window air conditioner units can be found at any department store or online. Add the weather stripping to help seal your newly controlled climate from the outside, not to mention it helps keep the unwanted guests out.
Feel the Relief
Now that the unit is installed, supported, and sealed, it’s time to plug in the unit, set the temperature, and kick back! Feel the relief from the heat and enjoy!
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