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Can You Install an AC On Its Side?

If you have an air conditioner that is installed in a window, what do you do when the window opens and closes vertically? Can you put an AC on its side?
You might also ask this question if you’ve discovered that space is at a premium in your area. These days, plenty of homeowners are attempting to get creative when installing their HVAC technology. Some homeowners put their air conditioners in sideways in an attempt at saving space. But should you really ever install an air conditioner on its side? It’s actually not a good idea to do so. It can damage the air conditioner and render it inoperable. However, there are other methods you can use to save space when installing your AC unit.

Why You Should Never Install An Air Conditioner Sideways

Many machines will run just fine no matter what angle you place them at, but not air conditioners. If you place them sideways, they will not only fail to operate, but they’ll eventually break down. This is due to the unique way that air conditioners do what they do.
Air conditioners make use of a liquid coolant; this coolant is pressurized and pumped through a condenser coil. As air moves across the condenser coil, the liquid coolant absorbs heat energy from the air. The consequence of this is that the air begins to dramatically cool down. The cooled air can then be vented back into the house, cooling down the rooms.
Window-sized air conditioners often make use of a small fan to vent the cooled air back into the home. Larger air conditioners still operate by this principle, but the fan that they utilize is much larger. With full-sized AC units, the air is vented through the home’s system of ductwork.
In either case, the AC unit absolutely cannot be placed on its side and continue to operate effectively. Because it’s a pressurized liquid being used to cool your home, gravity will act on that liquid if the air conditioner is placed sideways. When that happens, it will prevent the coolant from moving through the unit in the way it’s supposed to. This will force the compressor to work extra hard, burning it out very quickly and leading to a costly repair.
As an air conditioner is being used, it also generates condensation: as the air is cooled down, moisture is drawn out of it. Air conditioners are designed to drain this moisture away, but if they’re placed on their sides, they won’t drain properly. This will also eventually lead to a malfunction in the machinery.
Note also that even when an air conditioner isn’t operating, you shouldn’t store it on its side. The coolant and other fluids will still drain in a way that is damaging for the until. Always keep your air conditioner the right way up.

What You Can Do Instead

So, can you put an AC on its side? No, but there are other solutions to the difficulties you may be facing. If you have a vertical window, you may be able to order a casement air conditioner, which is an upright model designed for these types of windows. Note that these types of air conditioners do tend to be more expensive than standard models. They will also require a sturdy shelf or other area to sit on.
If space is a concern, you can consider switching from a standard air conditioner model to a more modern piece of technology, such as a ductless heat pump. These devices double as both air conditioners and heaters and don’t require a great deal of space for setup. They are also extremely energy efficient, which means that installing one is likely to help reduce your energy bill. This is especially true since they can be used to target only single areas of the home, meaning you don’t need to spend a great deal of money cooling areas that you are not currently occupying.
The only major downside of utilizing a heat pump over a traditional air conditioner is that they are costly. Nevertheless, you’re likely to recoup the expense of installation over time.

Making Sure Your Air Conditioner Is In Tip-Top Shape

We mentioned that it’s not a good idea to store an air conditioner on its side, but if you have done so, does that automatically mean the AC unit is ruined? Not necessarily. If you simply allow it to sit the right side up for about 24 hours, this should allow all the fluids to settle back to where they are supposed to be. Make sure that you don’t turn the unit on at this time. If the coolant hasn’t had the chance to reach equilibrium, you risk burning out the compressor if you do so.
If you do have an air conditioner that is malfunctioning, whether it’s due to improper storage, being installed sideways, or any one of the number of issues that AC units are prone to, it’s crucial that you have a trusted contractor that fixes it for you.
A good HVAC contractor will do more than perform repairs: they’ll also do routine maintenance on your air conditioner so that the need for repairs will arise far less often. They will ensure that everything is installed properly, in such a way that the coolant and other fluids can run smoothly, reducing the risk of the compressor burning out.
Finding the right HVAC contractor is a matter of doing your homework. Do some research to find which companies are the most experienced professionals in your area. Read online reviews and interview references to ensure that the HVAC professional you’re considering is skilled, knowledgeable, and experienced.
If you live in the Pacific Northwest, your best bet is Entek, a company with over 75 years of experience in the business. Our certified professionals will ensure you have the right air conditioner installed perfectly so that it will keep your home comfortable for years to come.


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