Home inspection findings by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck, Professional Real Estate Inspector TREC# 9073

* Prices * Questions about your home * Frequently Asked Questions * 713.781.6090

Hiding Those Unsightly Exterior Air Conditioning Units

print page Subscribe with RSS E-mail this story to a friend!

Download a pdf which is a quick reference guide with diagrams to this article about hiding an ac unit:Reference Guide for Fence There are some concerns about hiding them, so you should be aware of them to avoid problems.

We are always trying to hide the ac. Some people call them  condensers, while some call them compressors, or ac. These units contain both pieces of equipment, so that is why both terms are used to refer to this unit. I will call it a compressor for this post. We need it to cool our homes, but  they do not always fit into our landscaping. So how can we hide an a c unit, while ensuring that they function well?

Here are some things to consider to avoid performance issues. The compressor should be level and off of the ground to protect it from standing water after a rain. Compressors are set on a concrete slab to have them at least three inches off of the ground, but these slabs can sink, or the ground could be built up around them. You could purchase special stands that would lift and level a compressor at any home improvement center. The next consideration is that you will want a good air circulation around the unit. There should be at least a foot of clear space in each direction around the compressor to accomplish this air flow. Lastly, you need to have space around the ac compressor for someone to work on it. A three foot space is a good distance.

What are your options in hiding the ac? The simplest is painting it to match the house color or some theme in your garden. I painted mine black, since that color allows it to fade into the background. I painted my breaker box a red that I used for some objects around the exterior of the house. When painting a compressor, you do not want to paint the fins, just the metal frame parts. The fins help taking the heat from your house to the outside. Another method is to build a small fence like structure around it. Make this out of a trellis material so air can easily pass through it. I would have the posts for this fence in a fixed position, but make the body portion removable, so the compressor can be worked on. The last simple method is planting around the compressor. This works out well as long as the space around the compressor is kept clear, and a path to the compressor is made. You will probably have to prune every so often to keep the plants clear of the unit.

As long as you follow the considerations, you will not have any problems with home inspectors. Your solutions could combine a couple of the above mentioned means, or you may find other creative ways to pull a person’s line of sight away from the compressor.I think that a simple fence made from a lattice sheet meant for fencing or a bamboo fence can be a good do it yourself project, but hedge bushes do work well as plantings, as do ornamental grasses.

« « A Growing Scam on Craigslist| The New Method for Water Delivery in Your Home: PEX tubing » »

2 Responses to “Hiding Those Unsightly Exterior Air Conditioning Units”

  1. Mike Wade Says:

    I am interested in adding on to my garage and that will entail moving the ac compressor, the power and the cable/phone. I am thinking about building a small alcove into the new addition to bring in the utilities but was wondering about any overhead clearence that may be required for the compressor to breathe properly. The alcove would consist of three sides concrete siding and one open side with maybe lattice or something decorative that will allow air flow. As long as I leave room for a service man to work on the unit, an roof over this unit should be fine as long as it is like 8 feet or so, right?


  2. First, you may want to check local building codes, because there are rules governing placing a unit in an alcove.

    In general, the rule is that the access to the alcove has to be large enough to remove the equipment from the area. Next there should be a minimum space of thirty inches on each side to allow access for a worker to service the unit (I think service men would appreciate a minimum of 36″). So the height that you mention is fine, and if you have about three feet on each service (front, right, and left) side (the unit can be closer to the wall, but at least 12″ away).

    One more item to consider: drainage if rain comes into the space. Slightly sloping the floor to allow water to flow out would be an easy option. The lattice that you mention is a good idea; make sure that it can be removed (either sliding it out or on a hinge like a door) to meet the access requirements.

© Frank Schulte-Ladbeck Professional Home Inspector Houston, Texas
Frank Theodor Schulte-Ladbeck
home inspector, TREC# 9073
Houston , Texas , 77063 United States

Share Your Thoughts

  • Partners

  • Interested in advertising on this site? Contact me through the request a quote page.
  • Your Comments
  • Pages
My Store

Canonical URL by SEO No Duplicate WordPress Plugin