Advice for Safe Installation of a Room Air Conditioner

In times of extreme heat, air conditioning can quickly transform from a matter of comfort to a matter of health and safety. Millions rely on room air conditioners (aka “window units”) and portable air conditioners either as their primary means of staying cool or to supplement central air conditioning. 

Both room and portable air conditioners are effective options for staying cool in hot weather, and each has its advantages. One obvious difference between the two is that room air conditioners may require a more extensive installation. If you are using a room air conditioner, here are some tips on how to install it safely:  

Select an appropriate window for installation: Room air conditioners should be installed in windows in partially or fully shaded areas. They must be near a three-pronged outlet so the unit can be easily plugged in for proper grounding. Never use an extension cord or power strip with a room AC unit. It creates the risk of overload, which can cause fire.  

Install the air conditioner in an area free of obstructions: Air conditioners rely on the free flow of air. Trees, bushes and anything else that blocks the intake, on the indoor or outdoor sides, can interfere with its function and cooling ability. Clear obstructions away if you do not already have a window that is free of them. 

Have the proper resources available: Installing a room air conditioner can be a two-person job. Make sure you have the proper tools available for installation, as recommended by the manufacturer. Clear the area below the window of anything that could be damaged if the unit falls during installation.  

Check your window: Windows, and any material used to support the room air conditioner, should be in good condition, free of any damage or rotting. Do not install a unit in a damaged window.  

Purchase any necessary support brackets: Depending on the model, the room AC unit may or may not require support brackets. Consult the manufacturer and check local regulations to see if brackets are required or recommended.  

Make sure the AC unit drains properly: Most air conditioners require a way for condensation to drain, which is why room AC units often drip. Follow all manufacturer instructions for setting up drainage. Doing it incorrectly can lead to damaged wood, mold and odors as well as icing of the air conditioner’s coils.   

6 Tips to Maximize Air Conditioner Performance

Large parts of the U.S. and Canada are facing excessive heat warnings this week. During times of extreme heat, a well-maintained, properly functioning air conditioner can be your home’s most important appliance.

If you are relying on a portable or room air conditioner to make the summer heat more manageable, follow these six use and maintenance tips to help maximize your air conditioner’s cooling ability.

1. Don’t set your air conditioner too low: Your air conditioner doesn’t need to be set at a high level if nobody is going to be in the room for a while. Set it at 75-80 degrees if you’re going out. You’ll keep the room cooler and cut power consumption.

2. Keep the AC level steady: While oppressive heat will make you want to crank up the AC, it’s inefficient to try to cool the room all at once by setting your AC to the maximum level. Start earlier in the day when the temperature outside is lower and allow the room to cool slowly.

3. Block out the sun: Give your AC unit some help by drawing the shades or blinds to keep the sun—and the heat—out of the room.

4. Cleaner equals cooler: Check your air filter twice a month and clean it when necessary. Excess dirt and debris can reduce the efficiency of your air conditioner. Filters can be cleaned with lukewarm water and mild dish detergent. Accessible parts can be carefully cleaned with a vacuum and brush attachment.

5. Avoid household tasks that generate heat: Make it easier for your AC unit to do its job, and avoid activities that heat up the house, like cooking or laundry, during the hottest hours.

6 Let nature do some of the work: Has the temperature outside dropped? Take advantage of the break in the heat, turn off your air conditioner and open the windows. Use the unit fan and portable fans to bring the cooler outside air inside.

If your air conditioner still doesn’t seem to be keeping the room cool, it’s possible that your AC unit may be too small for the size of the room.

If you are looking for a new air conditioner, learn the differences between room and portable air conditioners.

10 Appliance Safety Tips You Can Use Today

June is National Safety Month, and it is the perfect time to do a quick review of easy ways to stay safe when you use appliances. From your kitchen to the laundry room, here are 10 appliance safety tips you can use in your home today!

Keep an eye on what’s cooking: Unattended cooking is the leading cause of cooking fires in the U.S. and Canada. Of course, this means watching what you cook is the best way to avoid cooking fires. Ask someone to take your place if you must step away.

Turn pot and pan handles in: This will make pots and pans more difficult for children to reach and prevent hot spills that can cause burns.

Keep a fire extinguisher or baking soda nearby when cooking: Both can extinguish a cooking fire. Keep the oven door shut to smother an oven or broiler fire. Smother grease or oil fires on the cooktop with another pan or lid. Never use water to extinguish cooking fires. Read AHAM’s Recipe for Safer Cooking.

Buy from reputable sources: Does your refrigerator water filter need to be replaced? How about a rechargeable battery for your cordless vacuum? Buy your replacements from reputable sources. It may be your best defense against counterfeit products that could put your health and safety at risk, and to ensure that the product continues to perform to the original manufacturer specification.

Keep your oven and range clean: This is another important way you can reduce the risk of cooking fires. Cleaning removes grease and food residue that could catch fire.

Use the correct microwave cooking times: While microwave food related fires are rare, overheating food can cause them. Use the correct cooking times when you are cooking or reheating food in your microwave and be sure to never place metal containing dishes or materials in your microwave.

Secure your portable appliance cords: Whether you are using them or storing them, don’t allow your portable appliance cords to dangle. Dangling cords create tripping and other injury risks.

Do not use portable appliances near the sink: Using your small appliances, such as hair dryers or blenders, near the sink can put you at risk for electric shock.

Clean your dryer lint trap: This can be a crucial step in preventing dryer fires. Clean the lint filter after every load of laundry. Have your exterior venting system cleaned according to manufacturers’ instructions, and clean lint from the rear of the dryer and around the drum as necessary.

Use portable heaters safely: This is probably the last thing on your mind in June, but if you use a portable electric heater to stay warm during the colder months, make sure it is certified by a national accredited testing laboratory. Never leave it unattended and keep anything combustible or flammable away from the heater. Get more portable electric heater safety tips here.


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