I'm probably going to need to leave my air conditioner in the window during the '07-'08 winter, and I have a few questions about air conditioners and winter.
I live in a studio in Chicago's north Uptown. I bought my first air conditioner last summer, a Frigidaire FAC109P1A
. When the weather got colder last winter, my building's superintendent was nice enough to take it down and store it in his own storage unit. However, since the weather's getting warmer, he's putting it back up this Thursday, and he's indicated that unfortunately he won't be able to store it again this coming fall.
I've bought an air conditioner heavy duty support bracket
. Although we won't be able to screw the support to the window frame itself -- the frame isn't deep enough -- the superintendent is going to screw it to a piece of wood that he'll then wedge underneath the air conditioner. This will hopefully correct one sort-of-a-flaw from last year: the air conditioner wasn't quite flush with the window frame. Last summer, the outside part of the air conditioner was at a slight angle tilted toward the ground, which meant that inside, the bottom part of the A/C stuck out from the window a little bit on a diagonal towards the floor. (I'm not sure if that's clear, visually. Let me know if it's not.)
The windows are perhaps only a year or two old, and very good. With them both closed, I barely had to open the radiator last winter. Additionally, I bought some spongy weather seal material
to put around the air conditioner.
I am nervous about leaving the air conditioner in the window over next winter, thanks to the extremes of Chicago winters. I have this vision of a big ol' nasty Chicago blizzard rolling into town one morning or afternoon while I'm at work, or while I'm visiting family for Christmas, and then coming home to find the apartment freezing and my cat dead of hypothermia. I realize that could well be an irrational concern, but if so the irrationality stems from not understanding how this works. I do know that many people do
leave their air conditioners up and in the window during the winter, so obviously, that sort of thing doesn't usually happen ... but I don't understand why
it doesn't happen.
How does the way air conditioners are built prevent winter cold from entering in the apartment? Since air conditioners in the summer run outside air over freon and then vent the chilled air into the inside, what structurally prevents that outside-to-inside airflow from happening come winter?
The accordion material that expands to fill the window: is that material usually strong/insulated enough to prevent outside snow, wind, and temperatures from entering the apartment? It seems like you have to have a window plus a storm window in place to stop wintry elements from coming in; how can that accordion material do the job?
Also, I'm wondering if people have opinions on, or experience with:
Evidently air conditioner covers exist (such as this quilted
one), and sometimes people even use garbage bags. There seems to be some debate as to whether or not it's a good idea or not: opponents say it causes condensation problems inside the unit
that can damage your unit's internals; proponents seem to believe it prevents the cold from damaging your equipment. Are they good or bad, do they make a temperature difference in the apartment, and with the ones for the outside, how the heck do you apply them? Lean out the neighboring window? I'm on a first floor apartment (not ground, but one up) -- would I grab a ladder?
One of the reasons I'm leaving it in the window is because I have nowhere to store it. I have a small-to-middlin' studio; I don't foresee moving into a one-bedroom anytime soon. I think if I had to store it inside the apartment, I'd buy a really big-ass plastic container from the Container Store
and then maybe drape a blanket over the container or something so it could serve as a table. But any other creative ideas for air conditioner storage in a tight space? External storage is exorbitant in the city, and my landlord doesn't offer extra storage space to building residents (not to mention someone might run off with it).
This air conditioner weighs more than I'm able to lift. I don't know the upper boundary of my lifting ability, but I know that I can carry 50 pounds (the weight of a box full of reams of paper) and walk 30-50 feet with it, and that that feels near my maximum. (Weight training isn't the worst of ideas, I know, but that's for another time.) I've seen stronger men than I struggle with it (probably also due to its width and breadth). If given enough notice, I'm sure one way or the other (my super, Craigslist, etc.), I could enlist enough help to move the unit, but I wonder how I might handle moving it alone in an emergency situation. I don't know what an "emergency situation" might be, but I don't like the idea of having a piece of furniture in my apartment that I can't move. Any advice on how to move stuff that's probably above your lifting limit without hurting yourself? Is there inexpensive stuff you can get from a hardware store?