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3 Ways to Safely Cover Your Outdoor Air Conditioner Unit

09/21/16

According to some estimates, good landscaping boosts your home’s resale value by as much as 28%. When you strategically plant trees, add lighting, and install stone walkways, you not only attract the eye of potential buyers, but you also lower utility costs, increase security, and decrease liability. But to enjoy the most return on your investment, you need to view your yard and garden as a whole. Any features that don’t contribute to the flow and aesthetic of your property could hurt your resale value rather than help it.

Your outdoor air conditioner unit, for example, may look like an eyesore next to your trickling bird bath. Fortunately, you can disguise, hide, or redirect the eye away from your unit with the following techniques.

1. Fence It In

Good fencing doesn’t have to stay along the perimeter of your yard. With a fence around your air conditioner, you can keep pets, children, and thieves away from your air unit, reducing the likelihood of damage. A solid fence can also direct the eye away from your unit back toward a more beautiful stone path or visually stunning outdoor sculpture.

Keep in mind that your air conditioner needs proper ventilation to ensure steady airflow. Solid wood or vinyl panels will restrict the cooling breezes that reach your machine, and your unit will have to work harder to keep you comfortable. When you install fencing, choose lattice-style or open-slat designs, and make sure the fence sits at least three feet away from your air conditioner.

2. Grow Some Green

If your yard looks like a floral oasis, a rigid, blocky fence might not look natural next to your carefully chosen sunflowers, morning glories, and marigolds. Rather than block off your air conditioner entirely, why not hide your unit with some tall-growing plants?

Ornamental grasses such as silver grass, porcupine grass, or switch grass can grow high enough to cover your air conditioner without breaking up your view of Mother Nature. Variegated Japanese silver grass, for example, features beautiful silvery white plumes and can measure as high as six feet tall and three feet wide. If you prefer shrubs over grasses, Indian hawthorn can form a dense, flowering hedge that rarely needs pruning.

As with fencing, tall-growing grasses, shrubs, and trees may inhibit airflow if placed too close to your air conditioner. Give your unit at least three feet of space around each side to ensure adequate airflow. Additionally, plant life will shed a variety of debris (leaves, twigs, flowers, etc.) that could clog your condenser fins and coils. These clogs will prevent your unit from adequately releasing heat, increasing the likelihood of a breakdown. Every spring or summer, you should prune your surrounding plants and clean your outdoor unit to keep clogs to a minimum.

3. Mirror Your Best Features

Like indoor mirrors, outdoor mirrors can trick the eye into thinking a smaller space looks bigger. A strategically placed mirror can also hide unwanted features, such as your air conditioner, while brightening shady spaces.  Simply mount a full-length mirror on a fence or trellis, and you immediately have a magical-looking gateway in your garden.

As you select a mirror, consider the materials and angles carefully. Wooden frames will need sealant to prevent warping and rotting, while metal frames may rust over time. If you angle your mirror incorrectly, the reflective light and heat may melt your fence, plants, or siding.

If you can, choose a mirror with a stone frame and water-resistant backing. Then, angle the mirror downward and in the direction of more appealing features such as your potted plants.

Don’t Forget to Service Your Unit

These ideas can help you find the perfect way to cover your air conditioner without damaging it. With a little creativity, you can come up with your own method for cleverly hiding your unit.

However, once you’ve hidden your cooling system out of sight, don’t let it fall out of mind. Although covered and protected, your air conditioner will still need regular maintenance to perform at its best.

Remember to hire an HVAC technician to inspect, clean, and repair your unit every year.

Posted in: Cooling

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