It’s getting warmer outside. With the warm weather comes BBQs, bonfires, and gatherings. Every time you have friends or family over you tell yourself you must do something to hide that ugly air conditioner condenser unit.
Well, stop procrastinating. You can do something about it now.
Before we begin there are some things you need to keep in mind.
1. Your air conditioner condenser unit must have room to breathe. If you block to much air flow you will decrease the efficiency of your air conditioner and eventually cause damage that will require a service technician to fix.
2. Make sure you keep your air conditioner condenser accessible. You will need to access it to clean it and if it breaks a service technician will need access to it.
3. If you have kids that play outside, you need to block their access to your air conditioner condenser unit. Your kids have smaller fingers than you and they might try to put them inside the fan area or they might think sticks belong inside the fan.
Now I’m going to throw some ideas out to hide your ugly air conditioner condenser unit.
1. Lattice fence.
A lattice fence is easy to build and can be completed cheaply. There are many options for the lattice. You can get it in multiple colors made of plastic or wood. If you get wood lattice you can paint it any color you like.
Lattice is a good choice because it provides ample ventilation. You can put a lattice fence close to your air conditioner condenser unit without worrying about blocking air flow.
If you move the lattice farther away from your air conditioner condenser unit you can let some vines grow on it without blocking the air flow. This is will provide a nice look without breaking the bank.
Plants are a cheap way to hide your air conditioner condenser unit. You can plant them directly in the ground around your air conditioner condenser unit or you can put them in pots and stage them to block the view from your entertaining area to your air conditioner condenser unit.
Plants are cheap and easy but they do have some drawbacks. You must keep up with weed control and trimming to make sure leaves or flower pedals are not falling into your air conditioner condenser unit. You also need to maintain accessibility. Potted plants can be moved but planted ones can’t
Upcycling, or repurposing, pallets into useful and decorative things around the house is popular right now. You can probably find pallets in your area for free. Check with the stores and factories. They usually have some that they are looking to get rid of.
The possibilities of a pallet fence are endless. The thing you need to keep in mind when you are using pallets is air flow. They block more air than the lattice fence so they need to be farther away from the air conditioner condenser unit.
4. Build a fence
If you want to just make a normal fence that is it perfectly fine way to hide your air conditioner condenser unit. You can really let your imagination run wild with fence ideas.
When you are brainstorming, remember a solid fence will block a lot of air flow. It needs to be far enough away to allow ample air flow around the air conditioner condenser unit.
A fence is more permanent than most other methods so you might want to consider adding a gate for access.
5. Metal enclosure
This is more for safety and theft protection then it is aesthetics. There are some decorative metal enclosures available. These are good to keep kids from getting hurt and they will protect your air conditioner condenser unit from theft and tampering.
6. Shed / Completely enclosed
I do not recommend you build a shed or complete enclosure around your air conditioner condenser unit. Your air conditioner condenser unit puts out a lot of hot air. That hot air needs to vent someplace. If it is enclosed and can’t vent it will decrease efficiency and break your air conditioner.
There are so may ways to hide your air conditioner condenser unit. This article is really just the wavetops. As long as you are maintaining accessibility and not restricting air flow you can’t go wrong.
Spring is in the air.
I know in Southwest Michigan that doesn’t mean much. It might snow tomorrow morning and be 90° in the afternoon. That is why now is the best time to get your air conditioner ready for the summer. You live in Michigan. You never know when you are going to need to turn your air conditioner on.
You don’t want to wait until you need your air conditioner to turn it on for the first time of the season. You also don’t want to turn your air conditioner on without preparing it first.
So here is a quick list of what you should do to get your air conditioner ready for the hot Michigan summer months.
Before getting started make sure your air conditioner is turned off.
We will start on the outside.
1. Clean the compressor.
Start by removing the leaves, debris, weeds, trash, or anything else blocking any of your compressor coils from around the outside. Next you need to clean the dirt and debris out of the coils. Start with a vacuum and use the soft brush attachment. Vacuum as much dirt as you can from the coils. Once you have cleaned as much as you can with the vacuum, use a garden hose. Don’t use a pressure washer. A normal hose will work fine. Wash the remaining dirt and debris out as best as you can. Make sure you try multiple angles.
While you are cleaning the coils, make sure you don’t bend or break any of them. If you do you can straighten them with a fin comb but it is best to not damage them in the first place.
2. Check the coolant lines.
Next you need to check the coolant lines. They are the insulated lines that go from the compressor into you house. These lines are insulated to improve the efficiency of your air conditioner. Check these lines for damage and missing insulation. If you find parts that are missing insulation you can go to the hardware store and purchase some insulation to patch the missing parts.
Now we will move into you house and check the indoor parts.
3. Check the drain.
Start by locating the drain for your air conditioner. This is known as the condensate drain. It should be a small PVC pipe. Once you locate it make sure that it has not been knocked loose during the winter months and that it is still draining in the correct location.
If you can access the beginning of the drain on your air conditioner you can clean it by dumping some vinegar in it and flushing it with water. This will kill the algae buildup and help prevent clogs.
4. Next check the filter.
Since you are a responsible homeowner, you probably change your filter regularly so this will not be anything new. Just in case you want to know more about air filters, click here.
5. Test your air conditioner.
Go to your thermostat and turn on your air conditioner. Turn the temperature down to make sure it turns on. Let it run for a little while to make sure it’s working properly. Go outside and listen for strange noises coming from the compressor. If you hear scraping, banging, screeching, or something that does not sound like it’s operating normally shut it down immediately and call an HVAC professional.
Once you listen to the compressor, go inside and listen to the air condition unit. Check to make sure there is no water dripping from the unit anyplace except in the drain area.
If it all sounds good, looks good, and cold air is coming out of your vents, you can shut it down.
With your spring checks complete, you can rest assure that your air conditioner is ready for the Michigan summer months.
A common question that people ask is, what is an HVAC system? Well, stay tuned because I’m going to tell you.
First off, HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. Basically, if it heats, cools or moves air, it is part of an HVAC system. Before you ask, yes even your ceiling fan can be considered part of your HVAC system.
Let’s get down to business. Here are the components that make up your HVAC system and what they do.
Your thermostat is the brains of your system. It is what allows you to set the desired temperature, humidity level, fan speed, and more. Basically, when the temperature drops below your desired temperature, the heat comes on. If the temperature is above your desired temperature the air conditioner comes on. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and capabilities. If you want to read more about thermostats click here.
The furnace is your best friend during the long winter months. It is what heats your home. It is most likely that largest part of your HVAC system. Your furnace operates on gas, oil, propane, electricity, solar, geothermal, or some other energy form. It heats the cool air in your home up and re-distributes it back into your home.
The heat exchanger is what does the work inside your furnace. This is the part that heats the air to push through your ducts. As the cold air is pushed through the heat exchanger it is warmed and goes back through the ducts into your home.
The evaporator coil is the opposite of the heat exchanger. It takes the warm air from your home and cools it. The coils are filled with refrigerant that helps cool the air. As the warm air passes through the coils it is cooled and pushed back through the ducts into your home.
This is the box with a fan inside it that sits outside your home. This is connected to the evaporator coil. As in the evaporator coil warms up it turns into a gas. The gas is then pumped outside to the condensing unit to be cooled off again. It is a closed system so the same refrigerant keeps getting heated and cooled repeatedly.
The blower motor is what moves the air through your HVAC system. It turns on when the furnace or air conditioner does. If you select fan only on your thermostat, it is the blower motor pushing the air through the system without heating or cooling it.
Ducts or Ductwork:
Ducts are what the air flows through to get to the different areas in your home. Ducts are made from metal, plastic, fiberglass, and other materials. Different types are used in different areas to maximize efficiency.
The vents are at the end of the ducts. They are usually made of metal. They direct the airflow into the room and provide something that looks nicer than just a hole in the floor, wall, or ceiling.
Your home’s HVAC system is complex. It is a system made up of many different components that work together to make you comfortable. If one component is not working properly it can affect your comfort and the efficiency of your system.
Thermostats are an important, and often overlooked, part of your HVAC system. With all the thermostat options available homeowners sometimes get overwhelmed and choose whatever looks good or is cheap without putting much thought into functionality.
Why heat your home in the winter when no one is home? Why keep it cool in the summer while you are on vacation?
Installing a thermostat that allows your to automatically adjust your home’s temperature based on your lifestyle is key to saving money on your energy bills while maintaining your comfort.
If you keep reading I will break down the different types of thermostats and explain how they may be costing you money and how they can save you money.
These are easy to use. You turn the dial or move the lever to the desired temperature and that’s it. If you want it set on 72°, you move it a little past the 70° and it will be close. These thermostats are old, outdated, and they are not helping your energy bills. They are the dinosaurs of thermostats. If you have one of these, you should upgrade. You can literally pick any other thermostat in this article and it will be better.
Digital Non-Programmable Thermostats:
Like their dinosaur ancestors, the digital non-programmable thermostat is easy to use. You simply select heat or cool and a temperature. Unlike the mechanical thermostats, the digital thermostat will allow you to set a specific temperature. It is better than the mechanical thermostat but it is not helping you maximize your energy efficiency.
Digital Programmable Thermostats:
This is the entry level into energy efficiency. A programmable thermostat, like this American Standard Silver 602, will allow you to set different temperatures in your home for different times of the day. You can even program different times of the day for each day of the week.
For example, in the winter you can lower your homes temperature during the day if no one is home and during the night when everyone is sleeping. This will keep your furnace from running as much and save you money on your heating bill without you even realizing a difference in your homes comfort.
In the summer you can let your home warm up a little during the day when no one is home to keep your air conditioner from running as much. This is a good way to lower your electricity bill without sacrificing your comfort.
WiFi / Wireless Thermostats:
These are the “bee’s knees” of thermostats. A wireless thermostat, like this AccuLink Platinum 1050, will allow you to access your homes HVAC settings from anywhere. This is good for the unknowns in your life. If you have a programmable thermostat that lets your home cool down on a winter day, you don’t want to come home and wait for your home to warm back up. With this thermostat you can adjust the temperature before you get home so you will walk through your front door into comfort.
These thermostats have many options available. You can get a basic model that allows you to run a program for different days of the week and adjust setting with a smartphone app, or you can get one that gives you weather forecasts and more.
This thermostat will allow you to maximize your energy savings in almost any situation.
Smart Home Systems:
If you want to take your whole home to the next level you can install something like this Nexia Smart Home System. These types of systems control more than just your HVAC system. They control entry to your home with wireless locks or digital keypads. They control your lights, power outlets, security system, and more. Smart home systems put control of your entire home in one place and allow you to access it anywhere.
There are also thermostats that have a power outlet in them. They are made to use with space heater, window air conditioners, and other portable heating and cooling units. They basically shut off the power when the desired temperature is met and turn it back on when needed.
There are not many options in the outlet thermostat category, but you might find them useful.
So what do you do with all this new knowledge?
First decide what type of thermostat you want. I would go with the Nexia Smart Home System, but that’s just me. Then look at the features you want and compare prices.
Once you settle on a new thermostat you can install it yourself, or if you can call a professional. It can be installed by a professional fairly quickly.
If you are still unsure about what thermostat is right for you, give us a call, comment, or email and we will be glad to answer all of your questions.
Boss Heating and Air would like to congratulate Master Sergeant Jeffery Street on his retirement. After 20 years in the Marine Corps he is trading his Marine Corps uniforms for a BOSS polo.
Jeff has had an eventful career. Over the last 20 years he has fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, recovered remains from US service members from past wars in Laos and Germany, worked at the White House as their bomb squad, and supported the Secret Service protecting many US and foreign heads of state and dignitaries. That’s just a few of the highlights.
For the past 6 months Jeff has been working for BOSS in his spare time. He has been overseeing the online presence, giving advice (sometimes unsolicited), and many other behind the scenes things from his home in Okinawa, Japan.
Jeff is returning to Michigan in May and will be part of the BOSS team permanently. He will take
a greater role in the day to day operations of the company. He will also take charge of company volunteering efforts and other community outreach programs.
We are all looking forward to his return.