You might be thinking of a place to hide your ugly and noisy air conditioner so it won’t ruin the beauty of your landscape when you notice the huge space under your deck. You wonder, “Can an air conditioner be installed under a deck?”
No, an air conditioner should not be installed under a deck.
Due to the spacious area the raised deck created underneath it, you might be tempted to place your bulky AC down there. Don’t be fooled.
There are two critical reasons why under the deck is one of the worst places you could put your AC:
1. Air conditioners absorb the heat from inside your home and then release it outside. Most air conditioners direct this released heat upwards once outside. If the AC is under the deck, the warm air will not be able to escape. Instead, it can be circulated back to the unit, and the heat you thought you got rid of recirculates back into the air conditioner.
2. The noise the AC generates can be magnified instead of reduced. Your purpose to lessen the unpleasant sound of your unit will backfire as the soundwaves it created have more surfaces to bounce off from.
You might wonder then, “How come I see people put their AC under the deck?” Just like what is said, it appears to be a very logical thing to do since you are searching for a place to hide away such an enormous machine and a deck offers a lot of the space you need.
Do not fall into the same thinking. You are, in fact, one step ahead of other homeowners by researching it first. Or, if you already placed your AC under your deck, it is not too late to reconsider.
We would like first to know how decks become a home-styling trend these days.
Why Are Decks Popular?
Building a deck attached to your house is one of the smartest ways to enhance the value of your home. By taking advantage of the outdoors as your extended living space, you are virtually adding a 100% return in value, according to the housing experts. If you ever thought of reselling your property, a deck is an instant attraction to potential buyers that can also help you sell it faster.
A properly constructed deck can support so much weight that it can be used in entertaining a large group of people. At a house party, for example, you can easily double the number of invitees since a deck offers a bigger space than your dining room or kitchen.
Another beauty of having a deck is it brings you a lot closer to nature. Especially if it is roofless and with a view of some greenery, it can become a quiet refuge for reading or simply meditating.
A deck is no doubt a great addition to your home life and a lot of people are taking advantage of its benefits. But let’s discuss one crucial mistake most residents make with the use of their decks.
Disadvantages of Installing Your AC Under a Deck
As outlined above, there are two main reasons why under the deck should be the last place you put your AC unit. We will explore these two reasons further so you can decide for yourself what is best for your home.
Hot Air from AC Can Be Trapped
An air conditioning unit that is working well and soundly can efficiently cool your home and improve the quality of the indoor air in the process. How does it do it?
You may find a ton of explanations on the Internet regarding the cooling method of an air conditioner. Simple as it may be to a regular HVAC technician, you may find the technicalities of it a bit confusing.
The book Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Technology by Tomczyk, Silberstein, Whitman, and Johnson, explains it plainly by saying, “The cold air is recirculated air. Room air at approximately 75°F goes into the air-conditioning unit, and air at approximately 55°F comes out. This is the same air with some of the heat removed.”
A layman would dumb it down further by saying the hot air is drawn out from the inside of your house, remove the heat, and blows back the same air, but only cooler air back to your house.
What happens to the extracted heat, then? The book further states that the AC is basically pumping the heat out of the house. So the key point to remember is to maintain a comfortable temperature inside your home, the heat should be consistently moved as far away from you as possible.
How and where exactly the heat is being dispersed by the AC depends on its design. Some ACs push the hot air through the metal plates on the sides or directly to the back portion of the unit facing your backyard. To fast-track the process of releasing the heat, an electric fan helps expel it into the outside air.
You can now understand why most HVAC experts advise having a 12 to 18 inches clearance on all sides of the unit. The main purpose is to allow the hot air from the unit to diffuse without blockage.
However, it becomes noticeable how more and more air conditioners in the market right now are designed to release the hot air UPWARDS. Instead of just one foot or one and a half feet allowance, AC manufacturers’ word of advice is to maintain a minimum of 60 inches’ headroom above the compressor to allow for hot air to exhaust from the top of the unit.
Why is it important to maintain a 5-foot clearance? Remember that the efficiency of the air conditioning unit relies so much on continuous, uninterrupted airflow. If the heat is released and is not escaping as quickly as it should, the unit tends to overheat. This will result in the machine malfunctions and unnecessary damage to your AC.
AC Noise Can Be Magnified
The unwanted sound generated by an air conditioning system is a very common household problem. The bigger the unit, the louder it gets. The closer you are to the sound source, the more disturbing it can become.
This is maybe why you thought of putting your air conditioner under the deck. Since decks are often installed at the back of the house, you may have thought that it is an ideal place to move the noise further away from the residents of the house and the guests.
A word of caution, though. An AC arbitrarily placed in a roofed area has the potential to amplify its noise. Your strategy of diminishing the unpleasant sound it makes by storing it away under a deck could work against you.
How is that? You may have tried to research how to reduce the noise of your AC unit. There is a substantial amount of DIY guides with helpful tips you can try for yourself or with assistance from an AC expert.
In your research, you will definitely find the basic principle you should remember in your quest for a quiet surrounding unit: Sound is a wave, and minimizing the surfaces it could bounce off from will greatly decrease the noise your AC makes.
Roofing created by the floor of the deck, especially if it is a little low, could serve as the surface where the AC sound can reverberate, turning the humming of the unit to practically blaring.
Even overhead abatement products, designed to absorb sound and minimize it, are not installed less than 48 inches away from the unit. That should tell us something about not putting any obstruction above the air conditioner.
If You Must Put Your AC Under the Deck
Despite the many arguments made above, you might still think that there is no place better for your AC than under your deck. We respect that since only the homeowners themselves know the structure and needs of their own homes.
It is also possible that you have tried every other nook and cranny of your house and backyard and your ugly unit remains visible and creates unwanted noise. Or your AC unit is already set up in a place where you intend to put your dream deck. Someone may have advised you that moving and reinstalling the AC would cost a lot.
In that case, please keep in mind the following practical advice:
1. Examine the users’ manual of your air conditioner for any manufacturer’s instructions on where and how to install it. The makers of the unit know best when it comes to the upkeep and preservation of your AC. You could easily find out how much space you should put between the air conditioner and any part of your house.
2. Maintain at least 5-foot or 60 inches clearance from the top of the unit to the flooring of the deck. Use a measuring stick to make sure that you achieve this distance. This will allow the air conditioning system to breathe freely and without distractions.
3. Test the temperature over and around the AC to ensure that it is not overheating. As it is running, gauge the intake air temperature a few inches from the unit’s coil. Then compare it to the temperature 10 feet away. If heat is not recirculating, these two temperatures should be about the same. But if the temperature is hotter near air conditioner coils then it is in danger of overheating.
Alternatives to Hide Your AC
If you are dedicated to preserving the beauty of your backyard by keeping your air conditioner away from sight but still preserving its uninterrupted airflow, there are numerous ways you can explore.
You can try using repurposed shutter screens as DIY boxes or fences. Installing some mini flower boxes, birdhouses, or romantic vines in some partitions covering your AC are some smart and creative ways to distract any onlookers.