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Habitat Magazine Insider Guide




Look Out Below! How to Install a Window Air-Conditioner Safely

Stephen Varone and Peter Varsalona in Green Ideas on June 5, 2014

New York City

June 5, 2014

The first step is to secure it properly. The window and window frame in which the unit will be mounted should be in good condition. The A/C should be braced from underneath with metal brackets, mounting rails or similar supports, or firmly fastened from inside with supporting angles. The metal brackets and angles should be attached to the exterior of the building and be strong enough to support the size and weight of the unit.

Secure Your Supports

Anything used to adjust the position of the air conditioner should be independently secured to prevent shifting. The air conditioner should remain in place when the window is opened, or secured so that the window cannot be opened accidentally. Tilting the unit for drainage is okay as long as it isn't done at a steep angle.

Bricks, wooden blocks, or phone books should never be wedged between an air conditioner and the window sill, and nothing should ever be placed on top of an A/C.

Your co-op or condo should have installation guidelines and procedures, and it’s a good idea to follow those. For example, you may need to comply with a rule that window air-conditioners be installed only by someone "qualified," such as the building superintendent, a maintenance person, a technician from the store where the unit was bought or perhaps an exterior contractor. You might need to complete a simple form verifying that a qualified installer put in the A/C.

Follow the House Rules

To maintain a uniform standard of safety, your condo or co-op board might also not allow you to install window air-conditioners on your own, especially on street-facing facades. The reason is that the more apartments there are in your building, the greater the risk that someone doing it on their own will not adequately secure his or her air conditioner. This could cause an accident.

You might also want to reference the Department of Buildings official air conditioner installation guide.

And to drill home the importance of proper installation, listen to Habitat’s Legal Talk Podcast. John Titone, a board president in Queens, asks why his building’s insurance company is requiring them to comply with New York City’s air-conditioner bracket regulations, even though his building is not subject to Local Law 11. Listen here.


Stephen Varone and Peter Varsalona are principals at Rand Engineering & Architecture.

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