Your air conditioner provides you with comfortable air all summer long. In spite of that, it’s easy to forget that your central air conditioning unit also needs its own air to function correctly. That means giving it space to breathe!

Keeping the right amount of clearance between your AC and surrounding objects will help it run more efficiently, saving you money on electricity bills and repairs in the process. In addition, we highly recommend not covering your air conditioner during the winter months, which will ensure that your AC will not be your outside critters home for the winter months.


Give Your Air Conditioner Enough Clearance

Different AC manufacturers will advise varying amounts of minimal clearance between their units and surrounding surfaces. Manufacturers’ recommendations typically range between 12 and 24 inches. Twelve inches is widely regarded as a safe minimum clearance from the structure, but up to at least two to three feet of clearance is considered ideal.

Minimum clearance can become even shorter depending on which surfaces surround the AC unit. A wall, fence or other similarly solid barrier should be at least 12 inches away from the unit. But shrubs, hedges, bushes and small trees don’t restrict air flow nearly as much, but keeping a distance of 36 inches is recommended as well, as the shrubs, hedges, and tress will continue to grow and need to be trimmed back.

An AC unit’s immediate horizontal surroundings are important, but don’t forget about vertical clearance! In order to maintain your AC’s full capacity to circulate air, you want to keep at least 60 inches (5 feet) of clearance between the top of the unit and the nearest obstruction.


Enhance Your AC’s Surroundings

The cleaner you keep your AC, the more efficiently it will be able to run. When condenser coils become dirty with dirt and other debris, the unit can use up to 40 percent more energy while simultaneously losing about 30 percent of its cooling function.

You cannot completely prevent dirt from entering your AC, but you can slow it down with clever landscaping. Surround your AC unit’s concrete pad with stones or pavers. That way raindrops will not hit nearby dirt and splash mud into your AC. Better yet, you won’t have to mow very close to your AC when it’s surrounded by pavers. That will prevent even more dust from gathering inside the unit’s housing.

It is best to keep your AC unit away from debris that could potentially fall inside the unit. It is  best to avoid planting debris-producing tree species right next to your current AC unit.


Ensure your air conditioner is ready for the summer months

Covering your AC during the winter months comes with several drawbacks. An impermeable cover can trap moisture inside the unit, retaining humidity capable of corroding any metal part in the unit. A covered AC can also provide the damp, dark environment where mold flourishes best. Worse yet, a covered AC looks like a four-star hotel to mice and other rodents. These invaders can chew the insulation off your unit’s wiring, and their bathroom habits are atrocious.

Most AC manufacturers do not advise covering their units. If you do cover your unit, make sure to uncover it as soon as the air temperature is no longer freezing. You should also regularly inspect the unit’s interior for signs of corrosion and rodent infestation.


Protect Your Air Conditioner With Biannual Maintenance

We recommend hiring a professional HVAC service to come out every two years. This allows for proper check of Freon levels in your AC.  Verification of proper AC functions including checking the evaporator coil as it collects dirt over time. This dirt reduces airflow and insulates the coil, reducing its ability to absorb heat. In the years you don’t have an HVAC professional preform a performance check, check your evaporator coil and clean if necessary. In addition, the service technician will check air filters, condensate pumps, thermostats functions, and air flow throughout the structure. If you live in Albany, Avon, Cold Spring, Eden Valley, Freeport, Kimball, Lake Henry, Paynesville, Richmond, Rockville, St. Joseph or Watkins, Minnesota, then we welcome you to contact Gilk Plumbing, Heating & A/C today for all your AC maintenance, repair and installation needs!