If you have made the upgrade from a wall mounted air conditioning unit to central air, you may have a large hole in your wall.
Wall AC units take up a good bit of space on a wall, and when it’s time to patch that hole, you must have a plan.
Although this will require a bit of skill and work, it is something that most handy homeowners can do on their own.
Remember that you will have to work on both the inside and outside of your home to complete this project.
How to Fill an Opening from a Wall AC
1. Gather Materials
The first step of any project is to prepare the area and gather materials.
For this project, it is going to be best to have a friend or helper to complete it.
There will be several instances where an extra set of hands will make a big difference.
In addition to an extra set of hands, make sure you have some protective material on the flooring inside the house.
When you remove the old air conditioner, there could be a bit of a mess coming out with it.
If the room is carpeted, you won’t want anything to stain the carpet.
For the outdoor area, make sure you have a covering for your plants which may be exposed to dirt or debris coming from the wall AC as it is removed.
In addition, here are some basic tools and supplies you will need to get this project finished.
- Pocket knife
- Pry bar
- 2” x 4” pieces of wood
- Joint compound
- Drywall tape
- Putty Knife
- Siding, shingles, etc. for outside of the house
2. Remove the Air Conditioner
The first step of this process is to take the air conditioner out of the wall.
Chances are there is some trim located around the outer edges of the air conditioner.
When you remove this trim, the screws that are holding the air conditioner in place should be revealed.
You may have to cut away some of the caulking that keeps a tight seal between the air conditioner and the wall.
As you cut this away, the air conditioner should start to become loose.
If you have a hard time removing the air conditioner, you may need a pry bar to pull it out and away.
Try and do this gently so that you don’t create a bigger project for yourself in the long run.
Check for any screws or caulking that you can’t see which could be holding the wall AC in place.
You will want to be doing this process from the inside of the house.
As the air conditioner loosens, pull it through to the inside of the home.
You never want to push the air conditioner out of the hole.
This will make the hole larger and more challenging to fix, and you may do some damage to the air conditioner itself.
Even if you won’t be using this model anymore, it’s essential to remove and dispose of it the proper way.
3. Cover the Hole on the Inside of the House
Now that your air conditioner is out, you will want to start filling the hole on the inside of the house.
It should be noted that you will need to cover the hole on the inside and the outside on the same day.
If you can only do one or the other, cover the outside of the house first.
There is no sense in covering the inside if the outside is going to be left exposed to the elements for an extended period or even overnight.
When you look at the hole you have in your wall, you will likely see that it is about the size of a smaller rectangle.
Your first step will be to build a frame out of two-by-fours which will fit inside this rectangle.
Measure the hole’s dimensions and then place the frame in the hole about a half-inch deep into the opening.
The depth will be so that you can still place the drywall on the outside to get it to line up with the walls of the room.
Your frame will attach directly to the studs that are likely exposed on the inside of the wall.
You should not have a hard time finding studs on either side of where the wall AC was put in.
Chances are these pieces were what was holding the wall AC up.
Now that your frame is in place, you can put a piece of drywall in which completely covers the hole.
Screw the drywall into the frame that you built; you should use drywall screws for this.
Of course, there will be some gap between your existing wall and the new piece that you just put in place.
Using a combination of drywall tape and joint compound, start to smooth out and join the two parts of the wall.
This will likely take several coats as well as some sanding.
You will have to let the compound dry completely before you start sanding it and getting it smoothed out.
While you are doing this, you will want to put the compound into the screw holes as well.
This part of the process is likely the most difficult as you will have to spend quite a bit of time to get this to look perfect.
Professionals know just the right amount of compound to use and how to smooth it out, but DIY homeowners can leave themselves a bit of a mess if this is not done correctly.
The good news is that, with sandpaper and paint, you can likely get your wall to look as though nothing had ever happened.
4. Cover the Hole on the Outside of the House
Now that you have the inside of your house all patched up, it’s time to move to the outside.
On the outside of the house, you have to consider another factor.
You want to make sure that you do not let heat or cool air escape through this hole in the home.
To prevent this, the best thing to use is insulation.
Insulation will be installed with the paper side going towards the house.
Choose insulation that is rated for your area and weather.
This is not something that you will want to cheap out on.
From the outside of the house, put the insulation in and then cut a piece of plywood that will cover the hole.
You will attach the plywood to the frame that held the wall air conditioner in place.
Once you have the insulation and the plywood in place, you can then start getting the outside of the house to look as it should.
If you have a house with shingles or siding, you will have to repair this area of the house.
Certainly, it is easier to repair certain types of homes, but you should always have some leftover supplies for your outdoor house covering.
After you have finished, ensure that both the outside and the inside of the house look like they did before the wall AC was ever installed.
What Is Better a Window Unit or a Wall AC?
As you have now seen, fixing a hole where a wall AC was in place is not the most fun project.
Although you will likely only spend a few hours, it is still quite a bit of work.
It is much easier to remove a window AC from a window as you will be left with much less cleanup and work to do.
However, is there a reason that so many people still choose to go with the wall AC?
The most significant benefit of the wall AC is that it tends to be more efficient.
Window AC units lose some of their effectiveness because they are in a window.
In addition, the window AC units are going to take up the window space that you may want.
It can be annoying not to be able to open a window on the day when the air conditioner may not be needed.
Some people find that the wall AC is also a cleaner looking option.
You can usually do some things to hide the wall AC fairly easily compared to hiding a window unit.
Window AC units tend to be a bit less expensive, and you can have them installed and up and running within a matter of minutes.
Wall AC units have a higher initial cost as well as a higher installation cost.
The upfront costs will likely pay off in the amount of time you will have one of these wall AC units in place.
The longevity of the wall AC is quite a bit longer than the window AC.
Ultimately, the decision will be up to you, but keep in mind the work you will have to do when it comes to patching your house in the end.
Can a Window AC Be Mounted Through the Wall?
As we mentioned, the window AC units tend to be quite a bit less expensive than the wall AC models.
This leaves many people wondering if they can use a window AC as a replacement for a wall ac.
You cannot use a window air conditioner in the wall.
The way the window AC is vented and how it distributes the cool air is not going to be effective and could cause some major issues.
The wall AC is going to take warm air out of the house and cool the air it is bringing in.
It typically works in just the front and the back of the unit.
The window AC has vents on the sides which will also help with the air moving process.
If you place this type of window AC in the wall, it will be pushing air into the area inside the wall, and it could cause overheating and other damage.
Paying the extra money for the wall AC will be worth it because of the performance that you will get in the long term.
A wall AC unit can be a great benefit to get you through a difficult summer.
However, when it’s time to move on from the wall unit, you will have a bit of a project on your hands.
It tends to take some time to remove the wall AC unit and to repair the wall afterward, and you will have to ensure that you have the proper tools and supplies to get this project completed.
Although many people will hire someone to fix this hole for them, it is a project which can be completed with a little basic construction knowledge.
As always, if you feel uncomfortable, hire a professional.