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A step-by-step guide to removing your A/C unit—without any scary slip-ups

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We're far enough into September that we we can probably stop worrying about one last heat wave coming back to spite us, which means it's time to take out our window air-conditioners for the season. But, given some horror stories about A/Cs being dropped on passing pedestrians, you'll want to make sure you remove yours as carefully and safely as possible:

  • First: Get another person to help you shoulder the load. (No shame in not being able to manage an unwieldy, precariously perched, 40-pound behemoth of an appliance on your own, after all.) Turn off the power, then unplug the unit.
  • Afterward, lay down a fresh towel to sop up any water that's accumulated in the appliance, Gizmodo recommends, making sure you're wearing a long sleeved shirt, close-toed shoes, and maybe even some protective gloves.
  • Unscrew the air-conditioner (if necessary), and stand on the cord for extra leverage in case it falls, then hold the unit from behind while the other person lifts up the window. Be prepared for the A/C to naturally tilt back at this point. Carefully scoot the unit out of the window, then place it on the towel to let any excess water drain out. 
  • For good measure, send someone outside to give neighbors or pedestrians a heads up. After all, just because your apartment insurance would cover this kind of accident doesn't mean you shouldn't avoid one. Meanwhile, if a contractor is taking out the A/C during a renovation, you should check for proof of their worker's comp and general liability insurance beforehand, as that will cover any potential mishaps, New York City apartment insurance broker Jeff Schneider of Gotham Brokerage (a Brick Underground sponsor) tells us. And, of course, he adds: "If you do it yourself and drop the unit on someone or something, you should be covered under your own policy. Unless you do it on purpose..."

Lest you think you're off scot-free because you've got a PTAC air conditioner—an all-in-one heating and cooling unit located against the wall like a radiator—don't forget that it's crucial to change the filter at least twice a year, or risk incurring water damage (and mold).

Once you've got the air-conditioner safely indoors, clean the filters or, if you're feeling spendy, send it out for a pricey cleaning. (These services will also store your A/C for the season once they've cleaned it.) If you'd rather not shove it under the bed or deal with the hassle of heading to a storage unit, you can also look into services like Boxbee and Makespace, which will deliver you a box, then cart away your A/C (or any other unwanted goods) for storage.

And with that all squared away? Time to figure out exactly where you left the space heater last spring.

***This story was first published in September 2014, and was updated in September 2016.

 

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