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Apartment Living

How To Install a Window Air Conditioner

How To Install a Window Air Conditioner

In many parts of the country, temperatures are rising steadily as summer approaches. In apartments without central air, the race toward summer means that it’s time to install a window air conditioning unit. If you’re anxious about doing so, fret not: After reading this guide on how to install a window air conditioner, you’ll be equipped to properly mount and seal your unit and enjoy a cool apartment no matter how hot summer gets.

install window air conditioner

1. Check whether the window can accommodate an air conditioner

Not all windows will be secure enough to safely accommodate an air conditioner. A window with rot or damage in or near the frame is not safe for installing an air conditioner. Arrange for the appropriate repairs to be made before installing your air conditioner, and while you wait for these repairs to be made, learn how to stay cool without AC. You may also discover that your window air conditioner won’t be stable without a support bracket, wood slats, or other additional materials.

No matter what, never install an air conditioner in an unsafe window. Window AC units are expensive and can sustain extensive damage if they fall from your window. More importantly, a falling AC unit can also severely injure passersby. 

2. Gather the appropriate tools

To safely, securely install a window air conditioner, you’ll need the following tools:

  • A power drill and twist drill bits
  • Wood screws and sheet metal screws (often provided in proper sizes and amounts with window air conditioner purchase)
  • A screwdriver, ideally multi-bit
  • Any spare foam insulation you have on hand (often provided with your window air conditioner purchase)
  • Possibly a microfiber cloth, broom and dustpan, or vacuum for cleaning any dust that accumulates after drilling holes

Once you have these, you’re ready to install your window air conditioner.

3. Assemble, place, and secure your air conditioner

Unbox your air conditioner and assemble the side accordions according to the instruction manual provided. The instructions should detail how to secure the side accordions to the top railing of the air conditioner. Once the accordions are properly installed, you can safely mount your air conditioner.

To do so, open the bottom sash of your window as high as it will go. Then, slowly and carefully insert the air conditioner in your window while aligning the flanged bottom portion of the unit with your window sill and the top railing with the bottom of the open sash. While holding the unit in place, lower the bottom sash onto the top railing so that it firmly holds the window air conditioner in place and rests against the unit’s top railing.

4. Screw the air conditioner railing into your window sash

After completing the previous step, your air conditioner is only partially stable in your windowsill. To fully secure it, you’ll need to drill screws through the holes in your air conditioner’s top railing and into the bottom of the window sash. Be sure that you’re drilling into the plastic or wood in your window sash rather than into the glass of the window itself. If your window sash is made of wood, you may need to first drill pilot holes into the sash where you’ll later insert your screws.

5. Extend the air conditioner curtains

With your air conditioner now screwed into your window, you can extend the side curtains to cover the space between the air conditioner and the window frame. The thin plastic comprising these accordions can block insects and outside objects from entering your apartment, but they aren’t fully insulating, and window air conditioner installation tends to introduce gaps in these barriers. That’s why the next step is so important.

6. Add extra insulation

Many air conditioners come with extra insulating materials to secure the seal around your window. Most units will include a strip that goes between the top sash of your window and the elevated bottom sash, as the gap there can introduce extra air from the outside into your apartment. You may also want to add insulation above or around the side curtains to fill any gaps and enhance the plastic’s insulating properties.

What else should I know about my window air conditioner?

When installing your window air conditioner, read the instruction manual thoroughly for any directions specific to your unit. You should also locate the instruction manual section about changing your filter or, if applicable to your unit, enabling its smart technology features. Alternatively, if installing a window AC unit seems too challenging or worrisome for you but you still need better airflow in your apartment for the summer, you can always consider a portable AC unit.

Published at Fri, 22 May 2020 13:22:23 +0000

Container Gardening for Apartments: 10 Helpful Tips

Since the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the global food supply chain and relegated non-essential workers to their apartments, some people have turned to container gardening to grow vegetables at home and start a fun new isolation hobby. If your apartment has a backyard or a balcony, you can easily start container gardening, and since no scientific evidence exists of COVID-19 transmission from plant matter to people, container gardening can provide a safe way to enjoy the outdoors without increasing your chances of contracting your virus. 

Of course, container gardening isn’t just as simple as packing seeds and dirt into a box. Here are 10 helpful tips for container gardening in an apartment.

container gardening

1. Choose the right spot for your container gardening setup

If you place your container garden in a spot where it will receive at least six hours of sunlight per day, you’re already off to a good start. To determine whether the spot in question gets enough sunlight, place your empty container there and check every 30 minutes to see whether sunlight falls onto it.

2. Consider temperature variations

Most plants won’t grow if their soil temperature is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, so at cooler times of the year, you may need to find a windowsill appropriate for indoor gardening in smaller containers. Plants are also sensitive to hot temperatures, and certain container materials can increase the soil temperature too strongly, severely damaging your plants’ roots and their ability to grow.

3. Choose the right containers and materials

If you’re container gardening during hot months, using metal or dark-colored containers may backfire, as these materials can result in root-damaging soil temperature increases. Otherwise, any food-safe container with built-in drainage and enough space to grow your plant should work. Certain materials, though, may serve better than others.

If you’re on a budget and want to minimize your spending on containers, you can reuse old plastic buckets or other household objects. If you’re looking to buy new containers, then wood, plastic, ceramic, or self-watering containers may be best for first-timers. Terra cotta ceramic pots may also work, but the clay comprising them can extract too much water from your plants’ soil, introducing another variable to an already precarious system. You should also be sure your container is sizable enough to accommodate your plant at its largest.

4. Choose the right soil

Although the term container gardening may imply that you can use standard gardening soil, you’ll be far better off if you use potting soil, as standard gardening soil may not drain properly when compacted in containers. Additionally, gardening soil can introduce weeds to your container garden that are far less likely to grow there otherwise. You should also opt for organic soil, as using it has been correlated with vegetables that taste better and contain more nutrients.

5. Know when to water your plants

Ideally, your container garden’s soil will be evenly moist but not absolutely soaked, and it’s easy to check whether you need to water your garden more. Just insert your finger one inch into the soil, and add more water if the soil feels dry. If you can’t decide for sure whether you need to add water, check again a few hours later. During hot months, don’t be surprised if you need to water your plants once or twice a day.

6. Know when to feed your plants

Like humans, plants can’t survive on water alone. You’ll also need to fertilize your plants to ensure they’re getting enough nutrition to grow. Many potting soils include fertilizer, reducing the number of times per growing season you need to add fertilizer to your container garden. Regardless, you should fertilize your plants often during their growing season.

You may be able to incorporate fertilizer into your soil when you first plant your garden. If so, you can supplement the existing fertilizer with liquid fertilizer twice per month to enhance the nutrient profile its roots can access. You can also use compost in your garden to provide extra nutrients.

7. Set up ample drainage

When too much water collects in your container garden, plants can drown or succumb to root rot. Make sure that your container garden allows excess water to flow out through the bottom. If you’re using a container made from old household supplies, elevate the container and prop it up, cut a hole in the bottom, and cover the hole with a coffee filter or another material that will let water, but not soil, through. This way, as water needs to escape your container, it can do so without your garden crumbling or your floors trapping water inside your container.

8. Consider other potential challenges

Setting up your container garden outside can lure unwelcome pests, whether insects or mammals, that wouldn’t otherwise appear. Additionally, some plants may require vertical support as they grow larger. These challenges can be hard to predict in advance, but you should keep them in mind and prepare to deal with them if necessary.

9. Know whether to start from seeds or seedlings

Once you’ve set up your garden, you’ll need to plant vegetable seeds or seedlings, and choosing between these options can be one of the most challenging decisions you’ll make when container gardening. For a full list of seed and seedling considerations, click here.

10. Decide which vegetables to grow

As you finalize your container garden, keep in mind that not all vegetables are well-suited to this gardening method. Find a small list of appropriate, beginner-friendly vegetables here, and upon choosing the right vegetables for you, start your container garden quickly to stay ahead of any possible food shortages and begin a new hobby that might make passing your time in quarantine significantly easier.

Published at Wed, 20 May 2020 13:20:29 +0000