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Thread: Through wall AC

  1. #1
    DIY Member mar3232's Avatar
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    Default Through wall AC

    I need a small air conditioner in my bedroom and I'm probably answering my own question here but other than the fact that a "through wall" unit is built for going through a wall, there's no real reason why you can't use a window unit, right?

    I've done it before 2 or 3 times and it is sort of a pain -- but works.

    Why they charge so much for through wall types, I don't get -- almost twice as much PLUS the housing.

    I know you should keep the vents to the exterior air etc if you're using a window unit.

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Properly supported, sloped, and sealed, a window unit should work in a custom hole. It just may not look all that great around the edges without more work, but should still work. A window unit is likely wider than the stud spacing, and you'd have to frame the wall to support it, and unless you can do all of this yourself, you'd probably find that the cost difference goes away.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  3. #3
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    It is done often...mainly because window units cost less! Here are the caveats:
    > The window unit is not spefically designed to be weather sealed thru-the-wall. You will need to engineer that feature.
    > The windo chassis is not structurally as strong as a thru-the-wall. You will need to engineer the securing method.
    > The BIGGY: window units have ventilation louvers on sides, and sometimes top. It is imperative that these are not obstructed by a thick wall, flashing, etc.
    > Window units are non-standard chassis size. Might change every year. You will most likely never be able to just slide the chassis out and slide in a new one at replacement time. Start from scratch

  4. #4
    DIY Member mar3232's Avatar
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    yeah -- I've done it a couple of times before but this time I need to go through 8" block + another stud wall, so the side louvers probably won't make it.

    tried a portable AC unit with a vent hole through the wall and took it back the next day -- those damn things are too noisy.

    wish the prices weren't so high on through wall units.

    fact is, what I'd REALLY like to do is mount a small (5000 btu or so) unit high on my bedroom wall and built some sort of chamber that vents it through the attic and to the outside (or just into the attic itself? -- because one of my roof vents is right above where I want to put it).

    THAT is what I'd really like to do but I posted on this forum and it was discouraged.

    But what about if I do a really small window unit (Like I say 5000 btu or so)?

    Obviously, I'd put a drain pan underneath it and run to a pipe.

    a chamber kind of like this? ---

    ATTIC

    I I
    ___I I
    I > I
    I________I

  5. #5
    DIY Member mar3232's Avatar
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    my art fell out of sync -- you know what I mean, a backwards L shape chamber.

  6. #6
    DIY Member mar3232's Avatar
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    also -- I'll only be using this when I'm sleeping, so I would imagine the attic may be cooler then?

    for example, how about this 6000 btu LG?

    http://www.homedepot.com/Appliances-...&storeId=10051

    I don't know why it wouldn't work -- be great if I could just vent the hot air to the attic below that roof vent.

  7. #7

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    Going through a block wall your going to need a shell like the GE RAB46. The AC that fits into that will vent and exhaust from the back because there is not room for side vents with a wall that is going to be that thick.The shell is only 50 bucks but ACs that fit in there are $500 +. 90% of the apartments in this area have that RAB shell so we deal with them all the time. Service is easy with the pull out chassis and so is the eventual replacement.
    Politicians are like diapers. You need to change them often……for the same reason.

  8. #8
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Do you have room to install a minisplit system? MUCH quieter, and better efficiency. Great flexibility on placement, and multiple room support.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  9. #9
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    If you try to duct the air flow in a window shaker unit, it will cool very poorly and FAIL very soon.

  10. #10
    DIY Member mar3232's Avatar
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    Ok.

    Doing a mini split in my other 2 rooms next year but want something small for my (small) bedroom.

    I'll just go through the wall then.

    Is it because the window units don't have a fan blowing air out? (like a roll around portable unit has?) -- so they can't be ducted? (what if I use a fan somehow?).

    Hate going through concrete -- no matter how careful I am, I end up just scoring it somehow and banging it out with a sledge hammer. Do you think a concrete block wall will keep it's ^%it together if I do a 19w by 14h opening? (like no lentil?)

  11. #11
    DIY Senior Member BobL43's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mar3232 View Post
    Ok.

    Doing a mini split in my other 2 rooms next year but want something small for my (small) bedroom.

    I'll just go through the wall then.

    Is it because the window units don't have a fan blowing air out? (like a roll around portable unit has?) -- so they can't be ducted? (what if I use a fan somehow?).

    Hate going through concrete -- no matter how careful I am, I end up just scoring it somehow and banging it out with a sledge hammer. Do you think a concrete block wall will keep it's ^%it together if I do a 19w by 14h opening? (like no lentil?)
    I'm no architect or structural engineer, but I'd not make an opening that big without a lentil holding up the unsupported blocks above that opening. 19 inches wide means at least one mortar joint will be at the top of the opening.
    I am definitely not a pro plumber, but I am a pro crastinator

  12. #12
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default

    Ideally, you would cut the hole so the joint between two blocks is "about" centered over the opening. Don't "score" the block actually cut through it, although you will probably have to do it from both sides using a circular saw with an abrasive blade.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  13. #13
    DIY Member mar3232's Avatar
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    But still put in a lentil? Block pretty much stays sound the way it's laid doesn't it? -- concerned though because I'll be at a low point in the 8' wall.

  14. #14
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Without a lentil, you're relying on the strength of the mortar bond to the blocks...I think that this would be risky.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  15. #15
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    Years ago I built a window AC into the wall of my frame house. The details of how to do it have already been discussed. A couple of things I learned quickly. One, you don't have good circulation for the whole house, but a fan will help. In other words, the room when the AC is located will get very cool, but rooms farther away and with hallways and doors will not be evenly cooled. Two, don't let the house get hot before turning the AC on. It takes these units forever to cool a hot house down. Much more effective to keep it cool be turning it on early in the day, These units will not give you the comfort of a ducted AC, but will not cost as much to buy and install. If you already have ducts for heat, look into a AC that can be incorporated with the furnace, using the same ducts. Initial cost will probably be more, but you'll be happier in the long haul.

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