If you are installing a window-mounted air conditioner, you will want to take your time and install it correctly. Window units are fairly simple appliances, but you should take a little extra time during installation to make it operate more efficiently, last longer and avoid potential damage to your home. Below are four ways to enhance the installation of your window unit:
Use a Dedicated Window Unit Bracket
While you can theoretically insert a window unit into the window opening without much or any preparation, doing so is likely to provide less-than-satisfactory results. Window units can weigh over 200 pounds, and that heavy load will put substantial strain on your window frame over time. The pressure exerted on the material can cause it warp or permanently flatten, leading to ugly window frames and leaky, drafty windows when the unit is removed. This damage can result in potentially expensive repairs or window replacement, not to mention elevated energy bills.
To avoid this problem, purchase a window unit mounting bracket, and install it to provide support and stability for the window unit. These brackets are not expensive, and many of them attach to the interior of the wall of your home. When buying a bracket, be sure the dimensions of the bracket are suitable for use in your window, and avoid materials that might rust or otherwise become unusable after a season or two. In addition, look for brackets that are strong enough to support your unit by comparing bracket weight capacities with the weight of your unit.
Level the Window Unit
Window-mounted air conditioners should be installed in a perfectly level plane and not inclined. Older window units were often tilted slightly toward the ground to facilitate the draining of condensate; however, newer units utilize the moisture drawn from the air to cool the condenser coils, and allowing all the water to prematurely drain will lessen the lifespan and efficiency of your unit. By installing the window unit levelly, the air conditioner will work as designed.
Likewise, never angle a window unit to slant inward, as condensate will spill over the bottom pan and flow down into your home along the wall. Many brackets come with built-in levels to make leveling a simple process, but you can also use a small box level set on top of the air conditioner's cabinet.
Upgrade Your Window Unit's Insulation
It is common for window units to come with strips of insulation, but you can probably do better than this minimal provision. Instead, purchase tape-backed, closed-cell foam rubber insulation designed for use with windows. Be sure to buy a high-quality insulation and avoid cheap, poor-quality materials. Apply these insulation strips around the joints where the window meets the cabinet.
In addition, window units come with plastic side panels that provide minimal protection from air entering and escaping on the sides of the unit. Throw out these plastic pieces and replace them with foam side panels; these are available at home improvement and hardware stores and offer a lot more insulating value than plastic. If your window unit is going to stay in place for the long term, you can also obtain better insulating results by using a silicone caulk. Clear caulk is available and will dry invisible to the eye.
Use a High-Quality Paper Filter
Most window units come equipped with a simple, foam filter that needs periodic washing to keep it clean. While the reusable nature of the filter can save money if properly maintained, many people neglect to clean the filter, and this results in units that operate at lower levels of efficiency with more wear and tear on internal components. In addition, foam filters are not always able to filter the smallest, but still irritating, particles that cause allergies and other problems.
That's why you should replace the foam filter with a more capable paper filter. Though disposable, these filters are better at stripping the smallest particles from the air and also require less maintenance since there is no washing involved. If you aren't able to locate a paper filter that fits your particular unit, then trim a larger paper filter to the appropriate size.
If your unit begins acting up, consider contacting an air conditioning repair specialist to take a look, or consider other AC alternatives.