Window unit air conditioner installed in vinyl windows?

Answered by Jeffrey ~ December 13, 2010 ~ Comments

We do not have central AC, but want to replace our wooden windows with vinyl; however, we do not want to drill holes in the vinyl when time to install the window AC in the Spring. Any suggestions?

Meg ~ Greensboro, North Carolina

Jeffrey Anderson

Hi Meg, I had to think for a moment when I read your question as I have some window air conditioners and I was trying to remember where I had them screwed to my windows.

The only place I've placed screws in my windows to hold a window air conditioner is in an angled bracket that I screwed into the top of a bottom sash and one of the side rails of the top sash. The purpose of the bracket is to hold the bottom sash down tight onto the top of the window air conditioner. I believe its primary purpose is for safety as it prevents the bottom sash from moving and the AC unit from possibly falling, but it also helps to create a tight seal to prevent air infiltration.

The only other location I can see where someone might want to install some screws are at the side flanges of the air conditioner to make sure there's a tight seal where they meet the sides of the window frame. I didn't install screws there as my flanges fit pretty tightly, but there are brackets on the flanges allowing homeowners to screw them if they so desire.

My windows are wood and if I ever decide to not use my AC units, I can simply fill the holes and do a little touch up painting. It isn't quite as easy for vinyl windows as they can be difficult to patch. Many parts on vinyl windows can be replaced fairly inexpensively, so you might want to talk to a vinyl window distributor around Greensboro to see where it would be okay to place a few holes in the vinyl windows and their frames that would be inexpensive to install new parts if you ever decide to sell your home. They may even be aware of a special device that can be used for vinyl windows to help hold AC units in place without doing any damage to the windows.

If your AC units are small like mine are, you may not need any screw holes in the frames of the windows and you might be able to cut a piece of broom handle or something comparable to wedge against the top of the bottom sash and the inside top of the top sash to help prevent the window from opening when the air conditioner is installed.

I wouldn't try that with a larger window air conditioner as the weight could cause the broom handle to punch a hole in the window frame and it could also be a safety issue if the AC unit happened to fall out and land on someone. Regardless of how large your window air conditioner is you might want to get some advice from a local North Carolina vinyl window distributor as you don't want to take a chance on hurting anyone.

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