How Much Space Should I Keep Open Around My Air Conditioner?

October 04, 2019

You probably don’t think too much about your air conditioner until it’s not working right. Or until your utility bills are suddenly climbing, even though you haven’t touched the thermostat.

Your air conditioner draws in outdoor air to cool and lets out warm air as it function. But it can quickly overheat if it can’t pull in enough surrounding air or flush out hot air.

An AC system that runs hot normally doesn’t last as long. And it doubtlessly will cost more to cool your Drexel Hill home.

O'Brien Heating & Air Conditioning can help when your air AC isn’t running right. Or keeping your Drexel Hill house cool enough.

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Space Guidelines for Air Conditioners

So how large of an area does your air conditioner really require?

Here’s what we recommend:

  • 1-foot minimum on all sides, including behind the unit. 
  • 1.5-foot minimum for the sides and an alcove or adjacent wall. 
  • 2 feet between the sides of the unit and thick shrubs or solid fences. 
  • 6 inches between the sides and leafy plants, with a few extra inches left for growth.
  • 8 feet between the top and interference, like a deck or roof overhang.

While doing yardwork, keep your unit free of grass clippings and leaves. Yard waste can clog your air conditioner and cause it to overheat.

Related: How to Clean Your Air Conditioner

How to Find Out if Your Air Conditioner is Overheating

  1. Turn the air conditioner on.
  2. Check the temperature a few inches from the coil. This is the metallic grate that surrounds your unit.
  3. Measure the temperature 10 feet away.

If the temperatures are the same, your system is working properly.

If the temperature is higher near the coil, your system may have something wrong with it. Call us at 610-257-7035 for assistance or schedule an appointment online.

Related: How to Keep Your Air Conditioner from Failing

How Much Space Does a Heat Pump Need?

If you live in a temperate climate, you may have a heat pump in place of an air conditioner. This outdoor unit creates both heat and air conditioning for your home.

It needs open space at all times, especially if it snows. Remove snow that builds up on the top and near the sides of the unit.

If your heat pump fills with wintry precipitation, shut it off. Use warm water to melt snow and ice and give the water some time to drain before turning your system back on.

Related: Heat Pumps Year-Round Comfort

Schedule Annual Maintenance with O'Brien Heating & Air Conditioning

Overdue for annual air conditioner maintenance? Give us a call at 610-257-7035 today!

A routine AC tune-up means your air conditioner is likely more efficient—and less likely to overheat. And it also allows our skilled technicians to find small issues before they become costly problems.