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Scorched yet? A few more tips on installing your window a/c

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If you haven't installed your window a/c yet, it's probably at the top of your weekend to do list.  Be sure to check out our recent post focusing on all things A/C, and these tips from Lessons from a Small Landlord columnist Craig Roche:

  • Pick a window that isn’t over the entrance and is away from where people walk, if possible. Most people don’t like to get dripped on when they are fishing out their keys. Also, if you drop your A/C unit, you won’t kill someone.
  • Get the right sized unit for your apartment and for your window.  It's not just a question of matching BTUs to the size of the area being cooled. Small A/C units don’t fit in large windows (they’ll fall out), and even small units don’t fit in some small windows. If you just moved to a brownstone, you’ll probably need to upgrade to a bigger or wider unit as original brownstone windows are too big and too thick to grab the slots around the A/C. 
  • Use brackets. New York City law requires that window air conditioners installed in buildings six stories and higher be secured with metal brackets or mounting rails. (More info is here.)
  • Get rid of the accordion-style ear flaps around your A/C unit and replace them with a custom-made plexiglass template. Some hardware stores will do this, or you can call Liberty Cool. This will seal much better than the ear flaps, and lets a lot more light into the room. However, it doesn't seem to help much with the streetnoise.
  • If they'll do it, pay your landlord or super to install your A/C unit, especially the first time. They know how the windows in your apartment are set up, and can show you what works and what doesn’t.
  • Seal the area around and under the A/C unit with old towels or foam. You wouldn’t expect the fridge to work well with the door open, would you?
  • Don’t open the window that the A/C is sitting in. Otherwise, when you open your window, your A/C will fall out. In fact, you should lock it shut with a cut-off broomstick or a 2x4 sized to fit between the top of the window and the bottom of the frame.  If your landlord will let you, drive a screw through the inner window into the outer window for even more security.
  • If you have bars on your window, or your windows are too wide, don’t despair! You can get a portable air conditioner. These gadgets have a giant hose that plugs into the window; the main unit is safely on the floor. They are slightly more expensive than window units and slightly less efficient, but they are far easier to install and store.
  • Put pigeon spikes on top of your unit if you can. I had a pair of turtle doves build a nest on my A/C unit one weekend, and I spent the next month sweatily watching them raise their chick. Had I turned on the unit, I would have quickly had a roasted squab.
  • Glue some cloth or carpet to the top to deaden the sounds of water from upstairs units banging on the metal lid of your unit.
  • Finally, ensure that your unit is sloped enough so that the water drains away from the window. Otherwise it can pool and create mold and rot problems, and your apartment will smell dreadful. Even a small angle is sufficient; just enough to ensure that the water flows out rather than in.

Related posts:

Summer’s coming: Here's what you need to know as A/C season nears

The Appliance Doctor: Quick fixes for impatient New Yorkers in a high-end appliance world

Is spending $350 to get your a/c cleaned worth it?

Care for some mold with that a/c?

3 ways to get around a/c-unfriendly window bars

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