Window air conditioners are lifesavers for renters who don’t have central A/C. But they can be a sizeable investment, so make sure you treat yours right! Common mistakes renters make after buying a window air conditioning unit for apartment include:
- Forgetting to clean the air filter (or forgetting the filter exists!)
- Cleaning the A/C improperly
- Leaving it in the window while away on vacation
- Leaving it in the window in the fall and winter
- Storing it in an apartment basement storage room or shed
Here’s how (and why) to avoid these pitfalls.
1. Forgetting to Clean the Air Filter
All window air conditioning units come with a removable air filter. This component is there to catch dust, pollen, and other indoor air pollutants that pass through the air conditioner’s intake. So, it should come as no surprise that the filter gets dirty over time, especially if you have pets in the apartment.
The more the filter gets clogged with debris, more restricted the air flow and the harder the window air conditioning unit must work to draw in air. As a result, the unit becomes less efficient and wastes energy. Definitely a problem if your electricity isn’t inclusive in the rent.
To clean the air filter of a window air conditioning unit for apartment:
- Turn off the air conditioner
- Disconnect the power cord
- Remove the front panel
- Pull the filter out of the slot
- Wash it under warm water
- Let the filter dry COMPLETELY
- Put the filter back in the air conditioner and close the front panel
2. Cleaning Improperly
Cleaning a window air conditioner isn’t too difficult, but there’s definitely a wrong way to do it.
Two wrong ways, in fact.
If your air conditioner is smelling a bit musty (which indicates the presence of mold), the best course of action is to spray it down with hydrogen peroxide. The diluted formula available in the cleaning section of most hardware stores will do. Hydrogen peroxide will kill off the mold, but does not pose a danger to you or risk harming the air conditioner
What you don’t want to do is use bleach or alcohol. Bleach is effective in killing mold, but it’s also highly toxic, and you don’t want those fumes being pushed into your room via the air conditioner. As for alcohol, it’s flammable, which is never something you want to mix with a large mechanical device in your house.
3. Leaving It in While You’re Away on Vacation
You’d never leave for summer vacation without locking your apartment door. But what about the window propped open by an air conditioner?
If the window can be reached from the ground (via a ladder, roof or another structure), that air conditioner makes it easier for a potential burglar to get inside your apartment.
Putting a stick or a lock bar between the window and the unit doesn’t cut it. For long periods away, it’s best to remove the window air conditioner and lock the window proper.
4. Leaving It in Late-Season
It’s never a good idea to leave an air conditioner running after the temperature drops outside. Air conditioners are liable to freeze up (literally) once the outdoor temperature dips below 12 degrees.
Leaving a window air conditioner for apartments in the window also creates a draft, which makes it unnecessarily cold inside your place and causes the heating system (be it a furnace, boiler, gas fireplace, etc.) to drain more energy.
5. Storing It in a Basement or Shed
Window air conditioners are a favourite winter hiding place for insects and rodents. Mice are particularly fond of chewing at the wiring, turning your expensive new A/C into a piece of scrap.
It’s never a good idea to store your window air conditioner anywhere that critters could get at it. That includes your apartment’s storage room, if yours is anything like the ones I’ve experienced (and if so, I’m sorry). The same goes for outdoor storage sheds.
The best place to store a window air conditioning unit in the winter is tucked in the back of a closet, safe inside the box it came in.