With local Adelaide temperatures regularly soaring to 35C or more, and humidity that often exceeds 60 percent, an air conditioner can make a huge difference in your summer comfort.
Yet air conditioning is a major investment, and many people are hesitant to pay for both the air conditioner and professional installation. While a professional installer has many advantages, those who are reasonably fit and handy can install some types of air conditioners themselves.
Here is what you need to know to install different types of air conditioners.
Portable Air Conditioner
Portable air conditioners are designed to be moved from room to room as needed, so they are the simplest type of air conditioner to install. However, a portable air conditioner can be tricky, as it must be vented to the outdoors to allow heat to escape.
- Location: Find a safe place for the portable air conditioner that is close to both a power outlet and a window, and does not create a tripping hazard. Check the manufacturer’s instructions to see how much unrestricted airflow is required around the air conditioner.
- Window Adapter Kit: Portable air conditioners are generally sold with a window adapter kit that allows the exhaust hose to vent through the window. Insert the window adapter into your window to ensure that it fits properly. Look for gaps and decide whether to fill them with window trim, plywood, or even cardboard.
- Other Venting Options: If your portable air conditioner did not include a window adapter kit, or the kit does not fit your window, you can substitute a piece of Plexiglas instead. Carefully measure your window and the size of the exhaust hose, using the manufacturer’s instructions as a guide for accurate cutting.
If the room does not have a window, it is possible to vent a portable air conditioner through an opening in an exterior wall. This is a complicated job best left to a professional contractor.
- Hook Everything Together: With your venting kit or alternate solution in place, all that is left is to hook the exhaust hose to the air conditioner and attach it to the vent according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Be sure to seal any gaps, and then plug in the air conditioner and enjoy fresh, cold air. For safety reasons, do not use an extension cord, and ensure that the exhaust hose is reasonably straight.
Window Air Conditioner
Window air conditioners are also remarkably easy to install. The biggest challenge is simply lifting the air conditioner into place.
- Repair the Window: Since the window will support the weight of the air conditioner, make sure it is in good condition. Choose a window that is shaded if possible, and located near the centre of the room. Replace any rotted wood, patch holes, and repaint if the paint has started to peel.
- Attach the Mounting Brackets: Your window air conditioner should include mounting brackets to help secure the air conditioner. Install them on the window sill according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Use sheet metal screws for a metal window frame, or wood screws for a vinyl or wood frame. Make sure the mounting brackets are level.
- Install the Air Conditioner: Attach the included accordion panels to the sides of the air conditioner according to the instructions, and lift the air conditioner into place. It is best to have a partner assist, as window air conditioners are both heavy and bulky. You should feel it lock into place on the mounting brackets.
- Secure the Air Conditioner: Extend the accordion panels and screw them tightly to the window frame. If L-brackets were included with your air conditioner, install them as instructed. Make sure that the air conditioner is fully supported and well-braced.
- Install Weather Stripping: Use foam weather stripping, often sold with window air conditioners, to tightly seal the area around the unit. This prevents bugs, moisture, dust, and dirt from entering your home around the air conditioner. When you are finished, the air conditioner will be ready to plug in and enjoy. For safety, do not use an extension cord.
It is generally best to hire a professional air conditioning specialist in Adelaide to install a split system. However, if you are experienced with plumbing and electrical repairs, you may be able to install your own split system. Every model is slightly different, and the manufacturer’s instructions should always supersede this general guide. Here are the basics to installing a split system.
- Choose an Indoor Mounting Location: Split systems consist of two parts—one mounted indoors on an exterior wall in the desired room, and another located outside. The indoor unit is heavy, so it must be mounted on wall studs. Some people construct a separate wood or metal frame for additional support. It must be at least 2.13 m from the ground, 1 m away from any electrical lines or antennas, away from potential gas leaks, and shielded from direct sunlight or intense heat sources. Leave at least 15 cm clearance around the top and sides.
- Install the Mounting Plate: Your air conditioner will include a metal mounting plate. Level it against the wall in your chosen location, and anchor it securely according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Drill a Hole: Based on your mounting plate and the exact design of your air conditioner, carefully mark the spot on the wall where the piping will connect. Drill a hole through the wall that is 7.5 cm in diameter, or according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Ensure that the hole slopes slightly downward from the interior to the exterior for proper drainage. Insert a flexible flange in the hole. Cut a piece of PVC pipe 6 mm shorter than the depth of the hole and place it inside.
- Run the Piping: Carefully bind the pipes and cables together with electrical tape, with the drain pipe at the bottom. Connect all pipes and cables to the indoor unit according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and then guide the other end through the hole in the wall. Make sure the pipes are not bent or crimped so that liquid can flow freely.
- Mount the Indoor Unit: Secure the indoor portion of the system onto the mounting plate according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Choose an Outdoor Location: Where you place the outdoor part of the split system will be largely determined by where you ran the pipes, but take a good look around. You need at least 30 cm of clearance around the unit’s perimeter and 3 m distance from any television or radio antennas, and the location should not be unusually hot or dusty.
- Level the Concrete Pad: The outdoor condenser unit sits on a concrete pad. Lay the pad in your chosen location and build up underneath it as necessary to level it.
- Connect the Electrical Wires and Pipes: Carefully remove the cover from the condenser unit and connect the wires as shown in the manufacturer’s diagram. Contact an electrician or professional air conditioner installer if you have any doubts about your ability to safely complete the connections. An improperly wired air conditioner can be highly dangerous! Next, attach the pipes to the condenser according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Bleed the Lines: Remove the caps from the valves and service port according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Attach a vacuum pump to the service port and create an absolute vacuum of 10mm Hg. Close the low pressure knob and turn off the vacuum. Inspect the system carefully for leaks, then disconnect the vacuum and replace the caps.
- Finish the Installation: Wrap the pipe connections with insulation secured with insulating tape. Use spray foam to seal the hole in the wall. Clamp the pipes to the wall. Ensure that the finished work looks neat and tidy both outside and inside, and then enjoy your new air conditioner.
Evaporative coolers are traditionally mounted on the roof. This can be tricky and dangerous, depending on the height and construction of your roof. The average homeowner does not have the tools, expert skills, and safety equipment necessary for a roof installation, so professional installation is required.
Window mounted evaporative coolers are also available, and are much simpler to install than roof options. The cooler sits on a mounting bracket attached to an exterior wall and protrudes through the window like a traditional window air conditioner. You will need to tap into a water line to provide a water intake for your evaporative cooler, and run a drain hose to a safe location well away from your home’s foundation.
Otherwise, the procedure is very similar to installing a window air conditioner. Read the manufacturer’s instructions for specific guidelines, as every model is slightly different.
Ducted Air Conditioning
Ducted air conditioning systems are extremely complicated to install, and are never recommended as a DIY project. Choose an air conditioning specialist with the advanced skills, expert knowledge, and professional tools needed to perform the job safely.
Air conditioners come in many different shapes, sizes, and styles. Some are relatively easy for a fit homeowner with reasonable DIY skills to install, while others require highly complex installations by a trained professional. Your air conditioning expert will help you decide whether installing your chosen system is the right project for you.
Jim’s Heating & Cooling is a trusted provider of air conditioning and heating in the greater Adelaide region. We offer a wide range of heating and cooling solutions, along with special discounts and financing offers. Call us now or request a quote to get started!