Changing Your Windows? Remember to Change Your Window Air Conditioner Too

Yay! You've finally replaced all those old single-pane aluminum-frame windows that were letting in drafts and not really keeping the temperature in your home very stable. You've got beautiful new vinyl double-pane windows in, and everything is awesome. Well, almost. Now you have to ensure that the vinyl windows stay in good shape, and that involves more than just cleaning them. If you were previously using a window air conditioning unit, you're going to have to make a couple of modifications, or risk bending and warping the vinyl window frame.

Supporting Weight

Window air conditioners sit in a bracket that's attached to the window frame. However, you can't attach the bracket to the vinyl frame because you can't drill holes in the frame without ruining it. Vinyl window frames are built to keep drafts out and warm or cold air inside, depending on the season, and drilling holes in the frame will ruin the frame's ability to keep out drafts and keep air in.

Simply sitting the air conditioner in the window isn't a solution, either. The heavy unit will crush the vinyl window frame. The air conditioner thus has to sit above the frame and be supported by something that won't crumple over time. If you still want to use a window air conditioning unit, and the window in question is on the ground floor, install a shelf on the outside of the wall of the house. The unit can sit on the shelf, and you can fill in the space around the unit so that cool air stays inside. Be sure that you check with your city about whether or not the shelf construction will require a permit from the planning department.

Changing Styles

Don't try to install the shelf on upper floors. Should the shelf fail for whatever reason, the falling air conditioning unit would hurt someone or cause substantial damage to landscaping beneath it.

For upper floors, switch to using portable air conditioners. These boxes on wheels sit inside the room with a hose leading up to the window. You have to size the air conditioner correctly to ensure it will provide enough cooling power. Newer models have fairly compact profiles, so they won't take up a lot of floor space.

Another option is having a ductless minisplit system (those thin, wall-mounted units you see in countries like Japan) installed instead. Something like that would require a permit, though, because you'd be modifying the exterior of your house and creating holes in the wall.

If you'd like to find out more about how to keep your house cool after you've had vinyl windows installed, talk to window manufacturers like Fas Windows and Doors about their favorite options. You'll find a great solution that keeps both the windows and your comfort in great shape.