A few summers ago, I was borderline sleep deprived because of my upstairs neighbor’s dripping air conditioner: The sound of water drops hitting my AC unit was definitely torture. My solution was to drop a washcloth on the corner of my AC where the droplets fell. It worked, but seeing a faded cloth on top of your AC isn’t ideal.
It turns out I’m not the only one who struggled with a neighbor's noisy AC. It’s actually a common issue for New York City apartment dwellers in the summer. A reader recently reached out to thank Brick for an earlier version of this article, saying it has saved their life from eternal torment. “I'm glad I'm not alone,” the reader wrote.
There’s actually an easy (and affordable) solution to this problem: Buy and install a drip pad or cushion that will absorb the water drops from your upstairs AC unit—and stop the noise from driving you crazy.
[Editor's note: An earlier version of this post was published in July 2020. We are presenting it again with updated information for July 2022.]
Why do ACs drip anway? Gary Mindlin of Top Hat Home Services, a townhouse and brownstone management company, previously told Brick that air conditioners are meant to drip. It’s caused by condensation that forms when it’s hot out, especially in older units that don’t have a fan to dissipate the moisture. “The best thing to do is eliminate the noise on your end,” he says.
To help you find solace this summer, here are five products to absorb the water dropping on your AC unit.
Vibra Block’s sound-deadening material is made out of high-performance, vibration-dampening polymer and has a peel-and-stick bottom. It comes in two sizes; the pad is six-by-six-inches (great if you know what spot on the AC to cover) and the sheet is four-by-four-feet, which you can trim to fit your AC. You can buy both products from Soundproof Cow, where the products have an average of four-and-a-half stars.
This drip cushion has a wavy sponge design for better water absorption and noise reduction. It also has a magnetic back so it stays on your AC without adhesives and is easy to remove. The cushion fits a standard AC but can also be trimmed so cover smaller units. It has a four-and-a-half star rating on Amazon.
Frost King’s drip cushion is made out of waterproof, high-density foam and has a magnetic bottom to secure to your AC unit. It comes in a standard 24-by-24-inches, and can be trimmed to fit other AC sizes. You can buy it at Home Depot, where it has four-and-a-half stars based on 166 customer reviews.
This drip cushion is magnetic so it’s easy to install and remove. It’s made from a high-density foam and is 24-by-17 inches, but can be trimmed to fit smaller units. You can buy it on Amazon, where it has a four-star review based on seven customer reviews.
The RainQuieter AC cover is eco-friendly and has an open weave design that allows water to pass through the material while eliminating the sound of both AC drips and rain. The kit comes with an adhesive to stick to your AC. The material allows air to flow through so you don’t have to worry about your unit overheating. It comes in 24-by-24-inches. You can buy it directly from the manufacturer, where it has four-and-a-half stars.
—Earlier versions of this article contained reporting and writing by Jennifer White Karp.