Although it might sound like a genius and cost efficient idea to install a casement window air conditioner without professional help, some people do it haphazardly and it has caused alarm to the New York City Housing Authority and NYC Department of Buildings. Although accidents involving falling air conditioners seem rare, the dangers are still present. A pedestrian was killed by an air conditioning unit that fell from a window seven floors high on East 23rd Street in the year 1988. In 2006, a woman sustained serious injuries and internal bleeding after being hit by an air conditioner that fell out of a window on East 104th Street and two people got hit in 2010. In 2012, two air conditioners fell out of windows in the Upper East Side, with one smashing into a playground where pre-schoolers where playing just a few feet away.
These incidents have led to stricter regulations regarding self-installed casement window air conditioners. The New York City Department of Buildings issued a guide for installing air conditioners, outlining tips such as (but is not limited to):
- Obtaining permission to install from the building management
- Checking the adequacy of electrical services
- Ensuring that the window the air conditioning will be installed in is in good condition
- Follow instructions stipulated by the manufacturer
- Make sure that the air conditioning unit is secured in place with supporting mounting rails, supporting metal brackets, and the likes.
- Installing the air conditioning unit in a window that lets it remain in place or a window that will not be opened by accident
- Keep objects from staying on top of the air conditioner
- Do not use loose objects to level the air conditioning unit
- Do not block important emergency exit points with the air conditioner
- Checking the AC units periodically to ensure that the unit and window frame remain in good condition
After the falling ACUs in the Upper East Side, residents from the Holmes Towers, Isaac Houses and housing authorities gathered to talk about rules and regulations. The New York Housing Authority has also stressed out the importance of following the manufacturer’s specific instructions and having the installed air conditioning unit inspected by housing authorities. The penalties for non-compliance of the rules set by the NYC Housing Authority include eviction of the public housing tenant.
Some residents became perplexed with the implementation of new protocol and issuance of letters informing them of the changes that need to be made with their air conditioning units. But knowing about the imminent danger that unstable casement window air conditioner pose on fellow residents are pushing them to shell out a few more bucks to air on the safe side and abide by the rules.