Once the summer in Pittsburgh gets going, you’re thankful to have central air conditioning in your home. Your AC unit helps to keep your house cool and comfortable, even as outdoor temperatures push past 90 degrees and the relative humidity approaches 100%. Sure, you want an attractive yard with lots of vegetation to spruce up the look. However, vegetation around the AC unit may do more damage than help make your landscape look good. Here’s how to arrange your plants and vegetation to minimize the need for AC service in Pittsburgh, PA.
How Close Can Vegetation Be to Your AC Unit?
It’s essential that plants not be too close to the unit. You’ll most likely want to leave at least three feet of space between the unit and your plants. Never put plants on top of your AC unit as well. As a general, it’s best to err on the side of caution when it comes to putting things near your air conditioner.
Why does your AC unit need space? If the plants are too close, they can restrict airflow, meaning your air conditioner ends up having to work harder. Plants that are too near the unit can also get pulled into the compressor when it’s running, meaning you’ll be more likely to need AC repair in Pittsburgh, PA.
You also want to leave plenty of space around your AC unit so that a technician can get close to it when it is time for inspection, maintenance, or repairs. If vegetation is growing up and around the unit, it can be difficult for a person to access the compressor to inspect it or make needed repairs.
What Can You Plant Near Your AC Unit?
Keeping the general three-foot rule in mind, some plants are better suited for being placed around or in front of an air conditioner than others. If your goal is to conceal the unit, you might want to plant a row of evergreen shrubs in front of it.
Evergreen shrubs or trees, such as arborvitae, have a compact shape and size. Since they keep their leaves all year-round, there’s no risk of leaves falling into your compressor. The branches of evergreen shrubs also won’t grow in an unwieldy manner.
What Not to Plant Near Your AC Unit
Plants that grow quickly or that have a tendency to vine or take over an area aren’t a good match for the area around your AC unit. Planting ivy, vinca, or other types of vining groundcover near your AC compressor can mean that you need AC repair in Pittsburgh, PA, more frequently. Vining plants are likely to grow up and over the unit, blocking its airflow, or in some cases, climbing inside of the unit itself.
It’s also a good idea to keep any plants that lose petals or leaves away from your AC. You don’t want petals to get into the coils or to be sucked into the unit while it’s operating. The same is true of leaves.
Trees and Your Air Conditioner
Usually, it’s a good idea to locate your AC unit on the side of your house that gets the most shade. If your AC is located in a sunny spot, it’s going to have to work harder to keep your home cool during the summer. When your AC is in the shade, you can save money on energy bills and reduce the amount of strain placed on your system.
A large tree can provide the shade your air conditioner needs to run efficiently, even on the hottest, sunniest days. The trick is to place the tree at an appropriate distance from the compressor so that it offers shade without blocking the unit. Ideally, a shade tree will be about 15 feet from your AC unit. That way, the leaves won’t fall into the unit itself and the branches won’t block it. A tree that’s about 15 feet from the house and the air conditioner unit is also less likely to fall on your home or the AC, reducing the risk of damage.
Container Plants and Your Home Air Conditioning Unit
If you don’t have soil around your air conditioning unit or you’re worried about the roots of shrubs or plants getting too close to the unit or your home, you can create a barrier in front of the compressor using container plants.
Follow the same rules for spacing if you’re using containers as you would for planting in the ground. Place the containers at least three feet from the compressor and use plants that won’t drop petals or leaves.
Although putting the containers on top of the compressor unit can seem like a great way to cover it up, don’t do it. The vibrations created by the compressor as it operates can cause the containers to fall off of the unit, making a mess. Plus, the containers are likely to block the airflow from the compressor when they are sitting directly on top of it.
What Else You Can Do to Protect Your Compressor
It’s not only shrubs, vines, and trees that you need to pay attention to when it comes to vegetation around your air conditioner. If you have a lawn, you also want to be cautious about trimming the grass and keeping soil and dirt away from the compressor. To keep a lawnmower or weed whacker from getting too close to the unit, it’s a good idea to set up a barrier, such as a row of bricks or a stone border, around the edge of the lawn.
The compressor itself should sit on a bed of stone, a concrete block, or a bed of gravel. That way, dirt and cut grass won’t get anywhere near it.
Air condition in Pittsburgh, PA, is a must-have if you want to stay cool in the summer. If you have any questions about maintaining the vegetation around your unit or about what you can do to keep your AC in great condition, Stahl Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning is here for you. We’re happy to answer your questions and to provide the service your AC needs to keep operating all season long or to get back up and running after a breakdown. Contact us at 412-273-1000 today for more details.