08-26-09 Planting around air conditioners

An article in the Sunday section of the Sunday August 23, Chicago Tribune caught my attention over the weekend titled “Trees, shrubs can conserve energy.”

One of the suggestions was to shade your central air conditioner with shrubs or a small tree.

That happens to be one of my pet peeves when Shirley and I look at gardens. I usually end up noticing the air conditioner. Just something I do I guess after being in the air conditioning trade for so many years, I just notice the condition of the space around the air conditioning unit. If Shirley had her way she would bury the air conditioner behind a fence or hedge to hide it because as she says “it”s ugly,” but that”s not the right way to go.

Every manufacturer of air conditioning units have minimum required clearances away from things so the units can be serviced and more importantly get the outside air to flow around and through them easily. Planting young shrubs that grow up to close to the unit or putting a fence to close will only block air flow and cause the unit to operate at a higher temperature because it can”t breathe. If you have a choice where to put the unit in the first place it should be on the north side of the house but if you can”t, then I would say east is next best, then west, and last is on the south side. Planting a tree can help give you shade which will help but remember some trees shed things like seeds, spent blossoms, leaves and other debris that can get into the air conditioner and cause the coil to become clogged and block air flow.

Best case is to follow the manufacturer”s specifications and give the unit plenty of room and keep the area around it clean and open.

Posted in Joes Tips