How Much Space Should Stay Open Near My Air Conditioner?

October 04, 2019

You most likely don’t think too much about your air conditioner until it’s not working correctly. Or until your electric bills are suddenly sky-high, even though you haven’t changed the thermostat.

Your air conditioner draws in ambient air to cool and forces out warm air as it works. But it can easily overheat if it can’t draw in enough surrounding air or flush out hot air.

An AC system that runs hot normally doesn’t last as long. And it likely will cost more to cool your San Jose home.

American HVAC Inc can help when your air AC isn’t running right. Or keeping your San Jose house cold enough.

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Space Guidelines for Air Conditioners

So how much space 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 blockage, like a deck or roof overhang.

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

Related: How to Clean Your Air Conditioner

How to Check 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 warmer near the coil, your system may have an issue. Call us at 408-215-1018 for a helping hand or make 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 mild climate, you may have a heat pump in place of an air conditioner. This outdoor unit gives both heat and air conditioning for your house.

It needs open space at all times, especially if it snows. Get rid of snow that gathers on the top and near the sides of the unit.

If your heat pump fills with wintry precipitation, turn it off. Use warm water to melt snow and ice and give the water a little while to drain before switching your system back on.

Related: Heat Pumps Year-Round Comfort

Schedule Annual Maintenance with American HVAC Inc

Overdue for yearly air conditioner maintenance? Give us a call at 408-215-1018 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 pinpoint small issues before they become costly problems.