How to Soundproof a Window AC Unit – Easy, Cheap DIY


In today’s world, there are fewer and fewer window air conditioner units out there. More people than ever are opting for central air conditioning, and sound is one of the selling factors to make that move. Indeed, a more modern set up will not be as noisy, but it is just not an option for everyone.

Is there a way to soundproof a window air conditioner to make life a little quieter? Some options work to combat noise coming in from outside, while others work to fight sounds coming directly from the AC unit. People are often very frustrated with how sound can ruin their quality of life, but not using the AC unit will make life miserably hot as well.

The first step is to make sure that the AC unit is not letting in a ton of outside noise. If there is outside noise leaking, chances are outside temperatures are leaking in as well.

Below are two solid solutions when these issues pop up. Both are fairly easy to take care of without professional assistance.

Soundproofing to Cut Down on Street Noise

Most people understand that a window insert is necessary when soundproofing an AC unit, but not all inserts are the same. People should always be looking for solutions that are easy to install and remove, especially if a person is renting the space. There are usually restrictions that come with renting, so there are no ways to change the set up of a window permanently.

A standard AC unit comes with framing material that is subpar at best. Not only is the material lackluster, but it usually does not sit completely flush against a unit. The more space there is, the more noise that will start leaking in.

The solution? Opting for a custom measured insert for the window that is fit to the exact measurements of the AC unit. Using the AC unit as a sound barrier makes sense if it is possible. Opt for an insert that is made of acrylic instead of glass, because this material works a little bit better. It is also easier to customize and cut, allowing for just the right sizing.

As great as the fit might be, there is always going to be the need for tubing to seal off the edges. Use the tubing around all sides of the AC unit and press it against the window frame and the AC unit. This completely seals off any noise, not to mention adverse temperatures coming in from outside.

Using Two Window Inserts

The other common way to soundproof a window AC unit is to create two different inserts. Both of these inserts fit into a standard window frame, even with no air conditioner units around. A mullion separates the inserts. When it is time to use the air conditioner, take off the lowest insert and put the window air conditioner unit in.

Insulation needs to go on all sides of the air conditioner, and it works best to use some weatherstripping or another alternative to fill the gap between the window insert and the air conditioner unit.

With this setup, a lot of people use L brackets to keep the insert on the upper part in place. Mullions are highly suggested because they do a great job with noise reduction, but it is not a must.

There is a bit of a drawback in that insulation does not look the prettiest when attached to the outside of a home. To combat that look, people will use a few different options when it comes to decorating. This covers up the insulation and makes it look like everything was meant to be, instead of an ugly finishing look

What Happens With the Air Conditioner Unit Becomes Too Loud?

Sound from the outside is frustrating, but what if the air conditioner is the main culprit with loud noise? When this happens, people have to balance a lot of things at once. No one wants to go without air conditioner assistance during hot months, but sound can sometimes get out of control.

First things first, make sure that there is not something wrong with the actual unit. Sometimes, there is a unit that breaks down and needs immediate attention. Maybe there is a leak, or it is just not operating as it should. There’s no reason to run an air conditioner if it is not working right, so getting it fixed will solve the sound issue and the overall effectiveness.

If the unit is a bit older, there might be no getting around the fact that it is slightly louder. There are ways to combat those sounds, and it is usually pretty inexpensive.

One option is a go with an air conditioner compressor blanket. In a lot of cases, the compressor is what is causing a lot of noise issues. This blanket is made of rubberized material that is commonly found inside cars. It is straightforward to install, and it works very well. The good news is that the material is entirely safe to use without any issues whatsoever.

Acoustic Sound Barrier

An acoustic sound barrier behind the air conditioner will help with sound dampening right away. This helps to control sound not only inside, but outside as well. This is perfect for those who might feel like they could receive some complaints from neighbors because their air conditioner is getting a little too loud.

It is very easy to get some inexpensive acoustic sound barrier material that will provide full coverage. Do not be afraid to shop online, as that is usually the best place to find good prices.

Relocation or New Layout

The final solution to a noisy air conditioner unit is to either switch it to another window, or rearrange the room. It is very common for people to get frustrated with the amount of noise and air conditioner unit puts out when they are trying to sleep.

Light sleepers might find it very difficult to block it out completely. When this happens, try to move it to another part of the room if at all possible.

If that is just not going to work, consider rearranging the room as well. The further the air conditioner unit can be away from the person who is bothered by the sound, the better. Of course, there is always a bit of a trade off, but it is worth messing around a bit and seeing what works.

Most Common Noises an Air Conditioner Might Make That Have Issues

Air conditioners usually have a steady humming sound that most people hardly notice. If it gets to be too much, it is likely because something went wrong. Here are a few sounds look out for, and the most common reason why those sounds happen.

Popping Sounds

The most common reasons for popping sounds is that the compressor is malfunctioning by sucking in the liquid refrigerant, or the fan blade in the motor is hitting something. The only way to get something like this fixed is to call a professiona, because the issue could worsen.

Rattling and Vibrating Sound

This is almost always linked to the compressor, as it is the noisiest part of any air conditioner. If it is just a mild sound, this is where a soundproofing blanket or panel comes in handy.

If it is getting louder and louder, it might need to be replaced. Keep in mind that compressors do cost quite a bit of money, so some people feel the need to upgrade their entire unit.

Loud Screeching Noises

If too much pressure builds up inside the compressor, the air conditioner can make some pretty alarming sound. Whenever something is very loud and sounds like a scream, it should be shut down right away. Professionals will be able to identify exactly what is going wrong.

Clicking Sounds

Electrical issues and fan blades hitting something causes a lot of clicking sounds. This might be a fairly basic issue, but it still probably requires calling a professional instead of troubleshooting without any assistance.

It is just very hard to identify the exact reasoning for a clicking sound, unless it is a visible object causing everything.

Is there a limit on where air conditioner units can be installed?

As long as a person takes the proper steps to soundproof a window AC unit, they can go in a lot of interesting places. The important part is to customize, customize, and customize.

Too many people stick with what they are given, and it is just not going to work from the soundproofing perspective. The last thing anybody wants is a lot of outdoor noise just because they need air-conditioning.

Final Thoughts

For as valuable as window air conditioners are, they do cause quite a bit of sound issues that people need to deal with. In some cases, there are ways to get over some of the more significant issues pretty quickly. In other cases, people need to be accepting of the fact that some sounds are hard to fight against.

Most people want a tranquil unit that also kills sound from the streets just like a typical window. It might take some strategic planning and a few extras, but it is usually worth it in the end. It sure

beats having to wear earplugs, or come up with some other sort of solution that makes for a peaceful time.

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