Do I supply AC Window Units?

26 Replies

Im looking at an older property to buy in my area. The unit uses oil heat which I am not thrilled about but its not a deal killer for me. But no central air means I need some sort of AC in the house during the summer (Im in Virginia so it does get hot). Do tenants usually supply their own window units or should I buy them?

I never bought a house that didn't have central air so this is new to me.

Much thanks!!!!

Unless your competition in this area does supply window AC, I suggest you do not supply window units. They will move with the tenant at move out. They break down at bad times. They are cheap enough that tenants can afford their own. And Section 8 reduces the landlord payment for electricity to run any AC in the unit (at least that is the case in my area); so no AC means a bigger payment from the Section 8 voucher.

Do make sure that there are receptacles close to windows to be able to plug one in where they will be needed.

@John Nisewonger : I'm a little farther South than you, so it's even a bigger issue for me. I would seriously consider putting in central HVAC or a ductless mini-HVAC system (google: Misubishi Ductless Air-conditioning), unless this is a really low-end rental. Most folks simply expect AC these days (at least in our neck of the woods). That said, if you decide against putting in a permanent solution, I would NOT supply window units.

As @Steve Babiak points out: cheap enough for the tenant to buy themselves, and too finicky for you to maintain.

House is probably worth around $60,000 so Im not sure if Im up for spending $7-9k for central air. What is your experience dealing with oil heat? maintenance costs etc? Maybe having oil heat and no ac is just a hot mess in the making and I should get a loan to cover central air?

Hard to find a more expensive form of heat than oil but you know what your local numbers are better than me. One thing for sure, never let a tenant install their own window AC unit. No matter who's responsible for supplying the unit I'd install it myself or make sure whoever does knows proper procedures. There are an awful lot of water damaged walls and floors out there from improperly installed window shakers. Also a good idea to verify adequate power where the unit is to be installed.

It depends on your market. I have a building with no A/C. I have actually considered buying some small $150 A/C window units and RENTING them to my tenants at maybe $10-15/month. You could try providing the window A/C units and make it part of their security deposit.

It really depends on what is acceptable in the area. If window AC units are, then you may want to look into supplying them for the tenants. Unfortunately, tenants usually do not know how to install them.

I've seen cases where they've been poorly installed directing moisture towards the home instead of away from the home. Over time, this could result in extreme damage.

If you have them installed, it will be a training exercise to educate the tenants on proper placement and to alert you of any issues in the future.

Hope that helps!

As some others have said, it depends on what other comparable units have in the area. Here in Orange County, we have a wall AC unit in each of our apartments, which is pretty common for our competition. High end places have central AC, but ours are middle income units. Of course, it doesn't get super hot here very often. We also own apartments in the Phoenix area, and those have central AC, which is practically expected out there. Apartments with just some (or one) wall AC unit(s) have a tough time competing for renters there.

In short, look at what your competition is offering, and try to be consistent with the competition.

No I would not provide window ACs. If they are hanging around when you buy the place tell them they can use them but they won't be replaced. I would offer to help install if you are worried about that but frankly I would just charge damages if they screw up installing a window AC. Unless similar units have central air I would not worry about it.

I have one little 900 sf home built in 1940 that has a window unit but it's installed in the wall in the family room down near the base board fully trimmed and out of sight. It looks decent because it's not in the window (I think they look like something out of a trailer park in a window) and it works good enough to keep the home cool.

Thanks everyone for your replies. I might see what my competition is doing in the area first and take it from there.

Originally posted by @John Nisewonger :
House is probably worth around $60,000 so Im not sure if Im up for spending $7-9k for central air. What is your experience dealing with oil heat? maintenance costs etc? Maybe having oil heat and no ac is just a hot mess in the making and I should get a loan to cover central air?

I love how warm oil heat is , thats the good part , now , the furnace needs to be cleaned every year , tanks get gunked up , oil lines freeze from condensation , tenants run out of oil and system needs to be bled to restart , oil is $ 4.00 a gallon , so 100 gallon min delivery cost tenants $ 400.00 . Possible oil spills .

I switched my oil to baseboard electric , Tenants go with budget billing from the electric company , easy. Let tenants buy their own window units , they dont work its their problem .

Originally posted by @Matthew Paul :
Originally posted by @John Nisewonger:
House is probably worth around $60,000 so Im not sure if Im up for spending $7-9k for central air. What is your experience dealing with oil heat? maintenance costs etc? Maybe having oil heat and no ac is just a hot mess in the making and I should get a loan to cover central air?

I love how warm oil heat is , thats the good part , now , the furnace needs to be cleaned every year , tanks get gunked up , oil lines freeze from condensation , tenants run out of oil and system needs to be bled to restart , oil is $ 4.00 a gallon , so 100 gallon min delivery cost tenants $ 400.00 . Possible oil spills .

I switched my oil to baseboard electric , Tenants go with budget billing from the electric company , easy. Let tenants buy their own window units , they dont work its their problem .

Is it really expensive to get an electrician in to hook up baseboard heating? Can they come off an existing run of 14/2 or do they need to run it off 12/2 or 10/2 wire? Yea I want to stay away from oil. Ive read a lot of horror stories and it also sounds like a pain to deal with.

I rent the 5,000 BTU A/C units at a pretty steep rate of $15/week. I supply the electricity and a new or fairly new window unit. I pitch a/c before they are more than 3-4 years old. I rent small sf units apartments. In my case, it's an older part of the city and I don't have much competition for tenants that want ac. I always install and remove due to the potential window and water damage. Wally world sells the units for $100-110. I buy several when they go on sale and replace the moment it's needed. We remove, de-lime/clean and store away. We are putting more units in the walls every year since it's hard on the windows. I wouldn't put an ac in a vinyl replacement window. Control the damage, and make it one stop shopping for the tenants.

Are these ac units in the wall hard wired or plug? Im going to have to look up how to install these. That would save me a ton as opposed to doing central air.

@David Foster

Do you have many tenants taking advantage of your offer to rent them an A/C? Yes you are right, I saw the same units at Sams Club this weekend for about $100 Why not use them on replacement vinyl windows? That's all I have in my building.

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Is it really expensive to get an electrician in to hook up baseboard heating? Can they come off an existing run of 14/2 or do they need to run it off 12/2 or 10/2 wire? Yea I want to stay away from oil. Ive read a lot of horror stories and it also sounds like a pain to deal with.

depends on elecrtician , you need to run a 12/2 , they are 220 volt , you need a 20 amp 2 pole breaker . They arent hard to do wiring wise , its getting the wire to the location .

Originally posted by @John Nisewonger :
House is probably worth around $60,000 so Im not sure if Im up for spending $7-9k for central air. What is your experience dealing with oil heat? maintenance costs etc? Maybe having oil heat and no ac is just a hot mess in the making and I should get a loan to cover central air?

You might do ok with a ductless system I mentioned above - they are cheaper (than a full-fledged central HVAC) and you determine how many (and which) rooms you install the AC. You can use those for heat and AC, by the way.

We never supply window ac.

Apts we supply range and frig.

SFH we usually supply range, mid to higher price we supply dishwasher.

Condos usually all appliances.

My unit in the wall is just a standard window unit put in the wall with some nice trim around the inside and 1x4" trim outside. It is plugged into the same plugin inside it was plugged into when it was hanging out of the front window next to the front door. What an eyesore! It's now mounted just around the corner on the side of the home and looks pretty good.

Account Closed

I'm not a fan of through the wall AC that are large window units. first of all the big hunkers can vibrate the wall especially when turning off or on.

Secondly when they fail and ultimately they will fail, you can't get another unit to fit the hole exactly and need to reduce or expand the hole through the wall.

And thirdly they're not usually tightly sealed in the winter.

When those type units fail we remove and patch the hole inside and outside.

We're in the deep south so air conditioning is a must. I have just one house that doesn't have central heat and air and it's our smallest one; under 1000 square feet. And yes, I do supply window units; it's such a small house that a unit in the back bedroom and in the living room takes care of the whole place. Like most of the older houses in the area it also has ceiling fans in every room.

I don't rent the units to the tenants as I figure if I had gone to the trouble of putting in central H/A it would cost me far more than these two units. I do attach them to the frames with star screws and so far, none have "walked" between tenants. The house isn't in the best neighborhood and I'd fear more of a central unit being torn up for the copper.

The house only cost under 20K about six years ago and even having the cheapest rent of all our places ($525 a month) it's been paid off a while back. These units would be easy to replace should they go belly up.

Yes I do worry about the a/c units being stolen. I had some tenants steal a small unit from me that I used to keep in the shed of the property. They said they don't remember it being there. I ended up taking them to court for money owed and recouped it there but still. Yes some star or tamper proof screws is a great idea

@David Krulac.

I'm not a fan of through the wall AC that are large window units. first of all the big hunkers can vibrate the wall especially when turning off or on..

Secondly when they fail and ultimately they will fail, you can't get another unit to fit the hole exactly and need to reduce or expand the hole through the wall.

And thirdly they're not usually tightly sealed in the winter. 1: I have not had that problem with this home

2: If and when the unit fails it is simple for someone with carpentry trim skills to find another unit the same size or smaller, then shim it (smaller if needed) and cut some new trim. It took me less that two hours to install the unit the first time.

3: My unit is sealed with "Great Stuff" inside the wall for no air leaks around it and I found a nice thick cover for it to put on the exterior shell in the winter.


For a lower end home a window unit is really the only solution if you are watching your bottom line and I feel they look too ugly to put in a window.

Here are some photos of the very sanitary installation at this home.

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@Account Closed

At one place the thru the wall was in a brick wall, it was a mess. at another place the guts of the unit were gone, and all that remained was the steel case and a big whole.

At another place there was this hunker 18,000 btu window unit that actually shook the wall when starting and stopping and make a lot of noise otherwise.

The modern wall units, not window units mounted thru the wall are the way to go.

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