As of Friday, it's officially fall. The box in your window that brought much-needed coolness during the summer is now preventing you from breathing that lovely autumn air (and will soon freeze your face off). Let's take it out.
This is nothing revolutionary, but every year around this time, I start getting calls from friends who ask me to help them remove their window air-conditioners. I don't know why I became the go-to guy for this (strong like bull?), but it's probably because I've done it a bunch of times and I haven't killed anybody yet. I am by no means a professional HVAC guy, but this is the technique I've used for years to keep me, my A/C unit, and my neighbors safe.
DISCLAIMER: These things are heavy and could very literally kill someone. Many of them weigh well over fifty pounds, and they feel even heavier because they are big and awkward. Whenever possible, ask a friend/spouse/neighbor to help you do this. Don't be macho about this, especially if you have a history of back/knee/shoulder/anything injuries. If you don't have anyone to help you, consider calling in a professional HVAC person. All of the steps I show here work better with two people. If you have absolutely no other choice other than to do it alone and you are physically capable of doing it safely, then this guide shows you how.
Prep: If possible, wait until it hasn't rained for a few days. These suckers can fill up with water, which makes things a lot messier. You'll need a screwgun, or at very least a screwdriver and a strong wrist. You'll also want some gloves, long sleeves, and boots to protect your toes.
Step 1: Turn off the power. Duh.
Step 2: Unplug the unit from the wall.
Step 3: Remove the front panel if you can. It may pop off at a critical moment when you're trying to move the A/C and get in the way. No good. Just set it aside for now.
Step 4: Lay a grungy towel out on the floor where you plan on placing the A/C once removed. Even if it hasn't rained in days it's entirely possible that there is some nasty water in there, just waiting to slosh out. Do yourself and your floors a favor and sacrifice a towel or two.
Step 5: Pull the cord to the floor and step on it firmly to take the slack out. Do not take your foot off that cord. Now, if the A/C falls, standing on the cord is not going to help anything. However, if it starts to teeter, this may help it tip past the point of no return. I can't emphasize enough, though, that this isn't to be depended on. It's just to give a little bit of extra support.
Step 6: Look out the window below you and check that there is nobody down there. If you have downstairs neighbors, warn them ahead of time so nobody walk out. If you have a friend who can stand down there and keep passersby away, all the better. Whatever you do, do not skip this step. If you drop this thing on a kid, it will kill him or her, and you will be convicted of manslaughter. Got it? Okay, moving on.
Step 7: Unscrew the screw(s) on one side of the window frame. Pick a side. Do not do both yet, and do not attempt to raise the window.
Step 8: Shove the unit over toward the side that is still screwed in. If it has an accordioning side (on the unscrewed side), fold that into the unit. There should now be a gap big enough to get your hand through.
Step 9: Reach your hand though the gap on the side and grab onto the A/C in a very stable place. If you can reach all the way to the back of the unit and hold on there, all the better. You need a place you can grab so you can stop it from tipping. Once you have a good grip, hold on for dear life and do not let go. At all. For any reason. Seriously.
Step 10: With that one hand still in place and never moving for any reason, use your other hand to unscrew the screw(s) on the other side. Once you've done that it's just your hand and the window holding this thing up, and the window is no longer reliable.
Step 11: The is the most critical part. Holding on to the back of the A/C with your hand that's on the other side of the window, flex that arm to give it some extra pull/lift. With your free hand, open the window. The A/C will want to drop (as you can see in the video). Don't let it. Use that one arm for all it's worth, and as soon as the window is open grab on with your free hand and move slide the A/C back into your house until it's well balanced on the sill. Still, do not let go with that hand!
Step 12: Readjust your feet (you can stop standing on that cord now), bend from you knees, and move the A/C unit onto the awaiting towel. Remove any additional hardware, and close your window. You're now nice and draft-free for the fall.
We searched the whole of the internet looking for tips and tricks on this, we even called a couple HVAC specialists. After all that, this is still the best system we've seen. Do you have a trick to doing this that makes it easier and safer? We definitely want to hear it, so let us know in the comments.
You can keep up with Brent Rose, the author of this post, on Google+ or Twitter.