14 Sep 2022

Do Window AC Units Damage Windows?

window ac unit

No central air conditioning? Rooms that get hot in the summer? Like many homeowners, you might be thinking about installing a window AC unit but are on the fence about it. On the one hand, you want to combat the heat and maintain your comfort and safety, which you can totally do with a window AC unit. However, on the other hand, you don’t want to damage your windows with a window air conditioning unit.

While it’s true that AC units can potentially damage the windows they’re installed in, the key word here is
“potentially”. In other words, that doesn’t mean you will damage your windows for sure. You don’t have to sacrifice your comfort and safety and live in humid conditions. With the following tips, you can safely install a window AC unit and enjoy cooling comfort without damaging your windows.

Do Window AC Units Damage Windows?

Assess your windows

First and foremost, you’re going to want to assess your windows. One of the biggest mistakes that homeowners make is that they assume that all windows can accommodate an air conditioning unit. However, that isn’t the case at all. In fact, almost all window ACs are designed for use with double-hung windows. Window AC units are not designed for sliding windows or casement windows.

A double-hung window is a type of window that features a fixed upper pane and a moveable lower pane. If the lower pane of the window slides up and down, it’s double-hung and can accommodate an AC unit. If the panes move from side to side (sliding) or the window tilts outward to open (casement), it cannot accommodate an AC unit.

Check for outlet accessibility

You also want to make sure that there’s an outlet that will accept a three-prong plug within close proximity to the window. All window ACs are powered by three-pronged plugs, and for the vast majority, the cords measure around 6 feet long. You should never use an extension cord when plugging in window air conditioning units. Doing so can create a fire hazard if the cord isn’t rated for the appliance.

Measure the window

You want to make sure you choose an AC unit that will properly fit the window. To measure the window, you’ll need to measure the height and width of the window opening. In order to properly measure the window, open it as far as it will go.

Measure from one side of the opening to the other and from the top of the window to the bottom. Jot down the measurements and make sure to purchase an appropriately sized AC unit. This will help to ensure the sides of the air conditioner do not let any unwanted air leak in or out.

Enlist help

While you could potentially do it yourself, installing a window AC unit is really a two-person job. Make sure to ask someone for help, as DIY-ing the installation will increase the risk of damage to the window – and injury to yourself.

Prep the window

Open up the window so that it will accommodate the height of the AC unit. Then, lift the unit up and rest it on the bottom of the window frame. Ask your helper to hold the AC in place while you continue the window air conditioner installation process.

Set the AC unit in the window

Place the bottom flange on the AC so that it abuts the windowsill. Lower the window sash until the bottom rail touches the top flange on the AC. The unit should be secured in place by the sash; however, your assistant should continue holding the unit.

Install the mount

Once the unit is positioned, install the mount. The mount will further secure the unit in place. Consult the air conditioner unit owner’s manual for instructions. Make sure you adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Additional Reading: Room or Window Air Conditioners

Better Home Energy Efficiency?

While window A/C units are an effective short-term solution, homeowners should consider upgrades that will have long-term benefits. Energy-efficient window replacements are one of those solutions.

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