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How To Install A Portable Air Conditioner Exhaust Hose To An Exterior Vent

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Portable air conditioners are ideal for small spaces with no windows or where a permanent installation is not practical. For example, computer server closets are a suitable location for portable air conditioners. However, like all air conditioner units, portable units require ventilation to an exterior space; otherwise they would circulate hot, humid air back into the room that needs to be cooled. Ventilation is accomplished through the use of a wide-diameter hose that can be routed through a vent hole. Installing a vent hole is fairly simple, and you can accomplish this task yourself with a few tools.

Tools and materials required

  • Drawing compass with at least a 5-inch diameter capability

  • Electrical jig saw

  • Stud finder

  • Electric drill with ¼-inch bit

  • Galvanized vent pipe section with same diameter as exhaust hose

  • Hose clamp

  • Clothes dryer exterior vent

  • Silicone caulk with gun

  • Measuring tape

  • Black magic marker

Step-by-by step instructions

1. Find a suitable location for the exterior vent - Portable air conditioners may be vented into a variety of spaces, but you will want to make sure your choice is suitable. Ideally, vents should be directed outside, but this is not always a practical option due to location. In that case, you may wish to consider directing the exhaust air to an interior space, such as a garage, shop or storage room.

It is important to keep in mind the vented air will be heated and moist, and this can cause problems with comfort or even cause mold growth. For example, venting exhaust air into a living area in your home would not be comfortable. In addition, avoid directing the exhaust into spaces where the moisture can accumulate and cause damage, such as attics or basements.

2. Lay out an interior hole for the vent - Once you have selected a suitable exhaust location, use a stud finder to be sure the area behind the wall where you intend to cut is hollow. Next, measure the diameter of the vent hose and adjust a drawing compass to the same size. Place the drawing compass on the wall, and carefully trace a circle. If necessary, outline the circle with a black magic marker to increase visibility.

3. Cut the interior hole for the vent - After the vent hole outline has been drawn, drill a ¼-inch hole in the middle of the circle. Insert the blade of an electric jig saw into the hole, and slowly cut toward the outline of the circle, then follow the circle with the blade until you have cut all the way around the outline. Pull the circular piece of drywall out of the wall and discard it. Take a closer look at the insulation or other materials inside the wall and carefully remove them from the hole. Clear a "path" all the way through until you can readily-view the opposite wall.

4. Mark and cut the exterior hole - When you have opened up the space between the inside wall and exterior wall, drill a ¼-inch hole through the exterior wall directly behind the location where the first hole was drilled. Be sure that no objects or persons are behind the exterior wall when you begin drilling.

Next, proceed to the exterior space and locate the hole that you drilled from the inside. Insert the compass center into the hole and draw the same-sized circle as you made in step 2. Cut out the hole with the jig saw, then pull the piece of exterior wall out of the way.

5. Insert the vent pipe - Push a piece of vent pipe through the holes you created; be careful not to push too hard, or you may damage the drywall surrounding the hole. Align or trim the pipe so approximately 2 inches extend from the vent opening on both sides of the wall.

6. Attach the exhaust hose and dryer vent - Once the vent pipe is in position, stretch the end of the air conditioner exhaust hose and install it to the interior opening using your fittings or a hose clamp. Don't pull the hose too tightly, or you risk causing damage to equipment.

On the opposite side from the interior wall, attach a dryer vent with little-or-no flow restrictions to the galvanized pipe. You will need to follow the manufacturer's directions on this step to see how to specifically install the vent and prevent possible pest intrusion.

7. Seal the openings with silicone caulk - After you have assembled everything, the final step is to apply a heavy bead of silicone caulk around the junction between the vent pipe or dryer vent and wall. Repeat this process by adding caulk to the joint where the caulk has been damaged or is simply worn. Allow the caulk to cure overnight before testing the exhaust hose.

If you decide that you would rather opt for a permanent install, reach out to a local company like Elite Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.


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