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Stay on the Level When Installing Air Conditioner

From Associated Press

Many people mistakenly believe that air conditioners should be pitched down, slightly out of level, to help them drain condensate. Actually, an air conditioner should be installed so it is level.

These appliances are designed so that condensate collects below the fan and runs into the slinger ring. This part is made of sheet metal and is part of the fan assembly. The bottom of the ring acts like a gutter to collect condensate. The fan picks up condensate out of the ring and slings it against the condenser coils.

Recycling the condensate in this manner increases the coils cooling capacity. Check the air conditioner for level when you install it.

If the appliance’s side panels are cracked, now is the time to replace them. In some cases, you can get a single side panel from an appliance store (each side costs $15 to $30) or you’ll have to buy both sides and the guides that they run in.

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Some people opt not to replace the side panels when they wear out. Instead, they remove the panels and screw clear plastic sheet (plexiglass, for example) over the runners. This also lets in a little extra daylight.

You should also take steps to seal where the window closes on top of the air conditioner. In many cases, the foam strip that came with the air conditioner has worn out. The gap left by an improper seal is energy inefficient and an entry for bugs.

Appliance stores sell kits called Air Conditioner Window Foam. These are simply bags with foam strips that have peel-and-stick backing. You can substitute adhesive-backed weatherstripping if you can’t find one of these kits.

Weatherstripping can also be used as a vibration damper when a screen rests on the top of the air conditioner. Although it’s not necessary to have a screen rest on the air conditioner, sometimes it’s preferable, depending on the size of the appliance relative to the window opening.

If you have an air conditioner installed in a vinyl-replacement window, consider using a wood reinforcement strip below the appliance to distribute its weight.

An air conditioner is heavy enough that it may distort some vinyl replacement windows. Also, consider screwing L brackets into the window channel rather than let the air conditioner rest against the window sash. Again, the brackets take the load of the air conditioner, instead of the vinyl replacement sash.


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