Safety Warning: Use Support Brackets to Prevent Falling Air Conditioners & Heat Pumps
- WINDOW / WALL A/C SUPPORTS - CONTENTS: Safety Warning About Proper Support for Wall-Mounted Exterior Air Conditioner / Heat Pump Compressor/Condenser Units or Window Air Conditioner Units. How to keep from dropping your air conditioner out the window. Support brackets for window air conditioners. Support brackets for through-wall air conditioners. Support requirements for wall-mounted split system air conditioner inverters.
- POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about safety support requirements for window air conditioners, through-wall air conditioners, and for wall-mounted split system or ductless air conditioner inverters & compressor/condenser units
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Safety support requirements for air conditioners:
Tthis article explains and illustrates the need for safe, secure supports beneath window, through wall, and wall-mounted air conditioners and heat pumps.
Not only can an unsupported air conditioner fall from the building, risking injuring or killing someone below, but there is also a risk of simply dropping the entire unit out the window or down the wall during installation or removal - an annual project for some window and through-wall units.
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Safety Warnings About the Need for Proper Support for Wall-Mounted Exterior Air Conditioner / Heat Pump Compressor/Condenser Units or Window Air Conditioner Units
Watch out: inadequately-supported outdoor window air conditioners or inadequately-supported wall-mounted outdoor compressor/condenser units (referred to as the "inverter unit" in some literature) pose a potentially fatal hazard should one of these units fall from the building onto someone below.
Our through wall room air conditioner shown in our photo at left looks as if it is supported by the roof downspout - perhaps not the most reliable installation.
In 2012 the New York Times reported that that city has increased enforcement of proper exterior supports for air conditioners at public housing after air conditioning units fell out of two windows in a housing project on the upper East Side of New York City.
While those air conditioner falls, one onto a playground near children, luckily didn't hurt anyone a falling A/C unit (window air conditioners) or compressor/condenser unit (split system air conditioners with an outside wall-mounted compressor unit) are very dangerous.
The Times article noted that indeed, in 1988 a pedestrian was killed when an air conditioner fell from the seventh floor of a building in New York.
The window air conditioner unit shown at below left actually fell out of this window during installation (I was there - Ed.). It bounced down the lower roof, rolled over a few times, and fell another eight feet to the ground. Luckily no one was below at the time. Remarkably the unit survived and still worked after it was reinstalled in the window opening - you can see the smashed condensing coil fins on the rear of the unit - damage that occurred during the unit's fall to the ground below.
At above right we see work by an owner who felt his air conditioner would work more efficiently if it were shaded from the hot sun. Construction focused on installing a roof over the A/C unit but forgot to support it from below.
A through-wall air conditioner is supported by the friction of the air conditioner case against the wood frame of the opening.
At left you can see how a through-wall air conditioner looks from inside the building. If no safety bracket is installed on the exterior wall beneath this unit, and considering that most of the weight of the air conditioner is cantilevered outside the building (photos above), one can surmise that it is principally the friction between the 2x4 opening framed in the wall and the air conditioner's steel case that is holding this unit from falling out of the wall and to the ground below.
At below left the accordion-type expanding window-mounted air conditioner opening bracket upper edge, braced against the lower edge of the window sash, is the principal connection that keeps this unit from falling out of the window opening. Simply raising the window sash can result in the whole assembly falling off of the building.
Short screws, often sheet metal screws secure the expanding bracket and window-filler on the sides of the air conditioner to the window sash bottom edge near the left and right ends of the upper sliding metal bracket.
And two additional screws secure the accordion expanding fillers to the trim on either side of the window frame. These little screws are not structural and do not provide much additional security against losing the whole air conditioner out the window. The outside view of this type of window air conditionr makes clear that it has no other support.
Examples of Supported Window or Wall-Mounted Air Conditioner or Split System Compressors
Our photos below illustrates different types of exterior, wall-mounted split system air conditioner compressor/condenser units high on an apartment building in Buenos Aires. Our second photo of outdoor wall-mounted A/C compressor/condenser units (below right) illustrates the use of supporting brackets. A similar bracket is required beneath most window air conditioner units.
Examples of Support Brackets for Window Air Conditioners & Through-Wall Air Conditioners
The through-wall air conditioner at below right is supported by an owner-built plywood shelf and diagonal wood bracket - better than nothing, but a design exposed to risk of eventual collapse from rot and water damage. Steel brackets sold for supporting window or through-wall 9or wall-mounted equipment are in our OPINION a safer alternative. At below left, the Friedrich brand air conditioner is indeed supported by metal brackets (red arrows).
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- AIR CONDITIONING & HEAT PUMP SYSTEMS - home
- A/C COMPONENTS
- A/C TYPES, ENERGY SOURCES
- AGE of AIR CONDITIONERS & HEAT PUMPS
- AIR CLEANER PURIFIER TYPES
- AIR CONDITIONER COMPONENT PARTS
- AIR CONDITIONER DIAGNOSTIC CHECKS
- AIR CONDITIONER NOT WORKING
- AIR CONDITIONER WON'T START
- AIR CONDITIONING SYSTEM ODORS
- AIR FILTERS for HVAC SYSTEMS - home
- AIR FLOW MEASUREMENT CFM
- AIR FLOW TOO WEAK
- AIR HANDLER / BLOWER UNITS - home
- BACKUP HEAT for HEAT PUMPS
- BOOKSTORE - Air Conditioning "How To" Books
- BTU CHART for AIR CONDITIONERS / HEAT PUMPS
- CAPACITORS for HARD STARTING MOTORS
- CAPILLARY TUBES
- CIRCUIT BREAKER SIZE for A/C or HEAT PUMP
- CLEANING & Legionella BACTERIA
- CLEARANCE DISTANCE, HVAC
- COMPRESSOR / CONDENSER REPAIR - home
- CONDENSATE HANDLING, A/C - home
- CONDENSING COIL REPAIR REPLACE
- CONTROLS & SWITCHES, A/C - HEAT PUMP
- COOL AIR SUPPLY IMPROVEMENT
- COOLING CAPACITY, RATED
- COOLING COIL or EVAPORATOR COIL
- DATA TAGS on AIR CONDITIONERS
- DEFECTS LIST - HEAT PUMP
- DEFINITION of HEATING & COOLING TERMS
- DEHUMIDIFICATION BASICS
- DIAGNOSTIC GUIDES A/C / HEAT PUMP
- DUCT SYSTEM & DUCT DEFECTS - home
- DUCTLESS AIR CONDITIONERS & HEAT PUMPS
- DUST, HVAC CONTAMINATION STUDY
- EDUCATION & CLASSES, HVAC SCHOOLS
- ELECTRIC MOTOR DIAGNOSTIC GUIDE
- EVAPORATOR COIL or COOLING COIL
- EVAPORATIVE COOLING SYSTEMS
- EXPANSION VALVES, REFRIGERANT
- FAN, AIR HANDLER BLOWER UNIT - home
- FAN AUTO ON THERMOSTAT SWITCH
- FAN, COMPRESSOR/CONDENSER UNIT
- FAN CONVECTOR HEATERS - HYDRONIC COILS
- FAN LIMIT SWITCH - home
- FROST BUILD-UP on AIR CONDITIONER COILS
- HEAT LOSS (or GAIN) IN BUILDINGS
- HEAT LOSS (or GAIN) INDICATORS
- HEAT LOSS R U & K VALUE CALCULATION
- HEAT PUMPS - home
- HOW AIR CONDITIONERS & HEAT PUMPS WORK
- HUMIDITY LEVEL TARGET
- INSPECTION CHECKLIST - OUTDOOR UNIT
- INSPECTION LIMITATIONS, A/C SYSTEMS
- LOST COOLING CAPACITY
- LOW VOLTAGE TRANSFORMER TEST
- MANUALS & PARTS GUIDES - HVAC
- MINI SPLIT AIR CONDITIONERS & HEAT PUMPS
- MOLD in AIR HANDLERS & DUCT WORK
- NOISE AIR CONDITIONER / HEAT PUMP
- NO HEAT - BOILER
- NO HEAT - FURNACE
- ODORS in AIR HANDLERS & DUCT WORK
- OPERATING COST, AIR CONDITIONER
- OPERATING DEFECTS, AIR CONDITIONING
- OPERATING TEMPERATURES HVAC
- PARTS - AIR CONDITIONING or HEAT PUMP
- PORTABLE ROOM AIR CONDITIONERS
- PRESSURE CONTROLS & SAFETY SWITCHES
- REFRIGERANT GASES & PIPING - home
- REPAIR GUIDES A/C / HEAT PUMP - home
- RETROFIT SIZING for A/C or HEAT PUMPS
- ROOFTOP A/C / HEAT PUMP
- SEER RATINGS & OTHER DEFINITIONS
- SPLIT SYSTEM DUCTLESS AIR CONDITIONERS
- SWAMP COOLERS
- THERMOSTATS, HEATING / COOLING - home
- THERMOSTATIC EXPANSION VALVES
- VENTILATION in BUILDINGS - home
- WALL CONVECTORS HEATING / COOLING
- WATER COOLED AIR CONDITIONERS
- WINDOW / WALL AIR CONDITIONERS
- FAQs below discusses field reports of problems & solutions for this topic
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