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Install a window air conditioner: a how-to guide

Want to learn how to install a window air conditioner? Follow along.

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Learn how to install a window air conditioner.If you're trying to figure out how to install a window air conditioner, you're not alone. Once the mercury starts to rise, apartment dwellers and people living in homes without central AC are intent on installing home cooling systems before the first heat wave hits.

When it comes to air conditioner prices, window units are a lot cheaper than central air conditioning units. It's not that difficult to install an air conditioner, but if you're not sure that you can handle it, get an air conditioner estimate from an HVAC contractor that includes installation and testing of the unit once it's installed.

Step No. 1: Check space

Your first step to install a window air conditioner is to check that the window frame and the window that you'll be installing the air conditioner into are in good shape. Check for nicks and dents, and make any necessary repairs so that the area is nice and smooth. You're now ready to do your install.

Tip: Avoid a sunny window

Window air conditioner units are heavy, so make sure that you have someone to do the install with you. When choosing your window, try and choose one that doesn't get a lot of sun. Air conditioners placed in direct sunlight have to use more energy to cool a room, making them less efficient.

Tip: Where's the outlet?

In order to avoid mishaps, try to install a window air conditioner near an outlet so that you don't have to use a long extension cord.

Get free quotes from area cooling contractors!

Step No. 2: Add brackets

If the air conditioner comes with mounting brackets, attach them to the windowsill. You'll need to use sheet metal screws if they're going into a metal frame, or wood screws if they're going into a wood or vinyl frame. Use a level in order to make sure that the brackets are lined up perfectly on either side.

Step 3: Install a window air conditioner

With your working buddy, lift up the air conditioner and place it inside the window or frame. Pull the accordion panels aside so that the unit slots neatly into place. Some windows come with built-in frames, in which case you'll need to make sure that the window is opened wide enough for the AC to slide into.

Once it's in place, slide the window down and push the accordion panels against the window and the frame. Screw the mounting frame to the window so that it's firmly attached. If you have angle brackets, you'll need to screw them into the window's upper sash. Some units come with them; but if yours don't, they're available at most hardware stores.

Step 4: Insulate

Squirt window-stripping foam into the gap between the window and the lower sash so that everything is completely sealed up. Test the unit to make sure it's functioning smoothly. 

Step 5: Add a cover

Wrap the outside of your window AC unit with a cover. A cover protects it from those nasty elements.

Check out Reply! for more information about air conditioners, including recommendations for sizes and information about what to look for in a warranty. If you decide to go with a contractor, it should be relatively cheap to install. If you're looking for something even easier to install, portable air conditioner units are the way to go. Window unit air conditioner installations are very common, and a good contractor can help you install a window air conditioner in no time.

Get your 4 free cooling estimates!

Photo credit: S&W Appliances.