Author Topic: Two airconditioner sized holes in my apartment walls-keeping heat in the winter  (Read 10473 times)

FiguringItOut

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I moved to my apartment in June.  Right now in the living room and master bedroom, there are holes in walls for aircontitioners.  These are large, sized for wall a/c units.  My standard size window a/c unit is sitting in in that space in my bedroom and it is way too small for it.  I put a bunch of foam strips around it to cover the space and to not let extra heat in.  For the purpose I need it right now, this set up is working and I can run my bedroom a/c when I need it.

In my living room, the hole is just open.  There is a metal cover that would go over the hole, but it doesn't provide any insulation whatsoever. Basically, these look like large holes in the wall, with metal box attached on the outside of the building creating a niche on the inside where a/c unit sits.  The metal box outside is perforated, so that there is a free air flow. 

It's fine now, that is summer, but in the winder this will basically be two large open holes in my walls.  There is no way I would be able to keep apartment warm regardless of the heat setting I use.  The wall unit a/c are designed to just sit in these openings year round and they themselves provide insulation to the inside space.  But I am not going to buy those.  I'll keep my current window unit in the bedroom, and I should be ok without a/c in the living room next summer.  I made it through most of this summer without it, so it's going to be fine.

How can I insulate these for the winter?  These would have to be non-permanent solutions as I can't alter apartment and cover these up permanently.  For the same reason, I don't want to use spray insulation.

Does it make sense to buy a roll of fiberglass insulation and stuff in these two holes?  I'm would be concerned with having fiberglass open to the apartment for safely and cleaning reasons. 

Any suggestions would be appreciated.






Tester

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Do the edges of the holes have any screw holes?
If yes you could do a sandwich of your wall width.
Outside something which would last the weather - screw in place, seal the edges to avoid water going in.
Make sure the sealant is able to withstand the weather in your area - sun/rain/frost-defrost...
Middle ("inside" the wall) - foam? If you use foam you could do some kind of box of the hole dimensions and put the foam in that box - this way you will not apply the foam to the walls and you will be able to remove that box :).
If you don't want to use foam you could find styrofoam and cut it to the hole dimensions, glue it to the exterior...
Inside, wood then drywall?
You will also want to make sure you insulate any empty space left when they made the hole - if the hole is "closed" - meaning you can't see inside the wall, I would not bother to open it and see what is there.


Still, depending on your climate, the way you insulate can lead to moisture build up, so you may need a layer for taking care of that or not.
If you will have different temperatures at the edges of your hole you risk getting condensation and mold and ....
« Last Edit: August 11, 2015, 11:35:03 AM by Tester »

FiguringItOut

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Do the edges of the holes have any screw holes?
If yes you could do a sandwich of your wall width.
Outside something which would last the weather - screw in place, seal the edges to avoid water going in.
Middle ("inside" the wall) - foam? If you use foam you could do some kind of box of the hole dimensions and put the foam in that box - this way you will not apply the foam to the walls and you will be able to remove that box :).
Inside, wood then drywall?


Still, depending on your climate, the way you insulate can lead to moisture build up, so you may need a layer for taking care of that or not.
If you will have different temperatures at the edges of your hole you risk getting condensation and mold and ....

Sorry, I got lost right at the 'sandwich'.  My technical knowledge and diy skills are non-existent. 

I don't think I'm explaining this right.  I will take a picture tonight when I get home of the inside of the wall opening and the outside of the metal box.




Mother Fussbudget

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The previous responder suggests that you FIRST patch the outside with a plywood patch on the OUTSIDE WALL.  You may need to temporarily remove the metal grate to install such a patch.  Inside, you should consider making a rigid foam insulation "patch" that will exactly fill the hole.
  • Use a piece of newspaper or cardboard to draw a template for the hole.
  • Pick up some 2-inch rigid foam insulation from the home store - something like this.
  • Cut a rigid foam "patch" using your template and a kitchen knife.
  • Fit it in the hole with the reflective layer facing OUT.
  • (optional) Cut a 2nd patch matching the first one, and glue the (2x) 2in thick foam boards together.
  • For the INSIDE, use a piece of plywood that's 4-to-6-inches wider than the hole on all sides.
  • Fasten the double-width "patch" to the plywood with glue or screws.
  • Position the patch with plywood front in the hole, and use drywall screws to fasten it to the wall.
  • Caulk around the plywood, and paint (if desired).
 
Don't worry about the screw holes - you'll be adding value to the apartment.  You can spackle over the screw holes when you move out... IF the landlord wants you to. 

AZDude

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Find a non-working A/C for free and screw it in? I imagine someone is giving one away...

FiguringItOut

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The previous responder suggests that you FIRST patch the outside with a plywood patch on the OUTSIDE WALL.  You may need to temporarily remove the metal grate to install such a patch.  Inside, you should consider making a rigid foam insulation "patch" that will exactly fill the hole.
  • Use a piece of newspaper or cardboard to draw a template for the hole.
  • Pick up some 2-inch rigid foam insulation from the home store - something like this.
  • Cut a rigid foam "patch" using your template and a kitchen knife.
  • Fit it in the hole with the reflective layer facing OUT.
  • (optional) Cut a 2nd patch matching the first one, and glue the (2x) 2in thick foam boards together.
  • For the INSIDE, use a piece of plywood that's 4-to-6-inches wider than the hole on all sides.
  • Fasten the double-width "patch" to the plywood with glue or screws.
  • Position the patch with plywood front in the hole, and use drywall screws to fasten it to the wall.
  • Caulk around the plywood, and paint (if desired).
 
Don't worry about the screw holes - you'll be adding value to the apartment.  You can spackle over the screw holes when you move out... IF the landlord wants you to.

Thank you.  This makes  more sense and directs me to rigid foam insulation instead of fiberglass.  But there are still somethings I can't do.  I can't patch it from the outside because there is metal box sticking outside and I'm on the second floor.  I can stuff the box with insulation boards, but it would have to be a lot of boards.  The box is pretty deep.
I need to give a bit of thought in terms of how to handle this on the inside.  I will still take pictures tonight as I need some more clarification.


FiguringItOut

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Find a non-working A/C for free and screw it in? I imagine someone is giving one away...

Can't do it.  I have no means of getting such unit to my place (no car) and I can't carry it upstairs to the second floor, they are very heavy. 

I need cheap and light weight non-permanent solution here.

forummm

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You just want some kind of solid barrier on the outside, solid barrier on the inside, and put some fiberglass insulation between those (generally better insulator than foam). There are all kinds of ways you could rig this up--even without the ability to screw into the exterior wall. A picture would help.

Guesl982374

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How can I insulate these for the winter?  These would have to be non-permanent solutions as I can't alter apartment and cover these up permanently.  For the same reason, I don't want to use spray insulation.

Um, sounds like you are renting, have you called the landlord to ask if he can close the holes permanently?

zolotiyeruki

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You just want some kind of solid barrier on the outside, solid barrier on the inside, and put some fiberglass insulation between those (generally better insulator than foam). There are all kinds of ways you could rig this up--even without the ability to screw into the exterior wall. A picture would help.
Actually, rigid XPS (pink foam board) has a higher R-value per inch than fiberglass. XPS has about R-5 per inch, while fiberglass gets about R-3.

A picture of the hole would be very helpful.  I'm imagining a metal box inserted through the wall, with the inside face completely open, and the outside being perforated.  So there are two issues here:  weather proofing and insulation.

What I'd do (assuming I'm picturing the A/C box correctly):
1) take a garbage bag and fill it with either loose-fill insulation or fiberglass batt.  Double-bagging for durability is optional.
2) stuff the insulation-filled garbage bag into the A/C-shaped hole, making sure it fills the whole cavity to the corners and edges.  There should be enough insulation so that when you stuff it in the hole, it fills all but the last 2" of the hole.
3) cut a piece of 2"-thick pink foam board to fit the hole, and fit it into place, flush with the inside face of the hole.  Secure it with expanding foam in a can or some sort of caulk.

FiguringItOut

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You just want some kind of solid barrier on the outside, solid barrier on the inside, and put some fiberglass insulation between those (generally better insulator than foam). There are all kinds of ways you could rig this up--even without the ability to screw into the exterior wall. A picture would help.
Actually, rigid XPS (pink foam board) has a higher R-value per inch than fiberglass. XPS has about R-5 per inch, while fiberglass gets about R-3.

A picture of the hole would be very helpful.  I'm imagining a metal box inserted through the wall, with the inside face completely open, and the outside being perforated.  So there are two issues here:  weather proofing and insulation.

What I'd do (assuming I'm picturing the A/C box correctly):
1) take a garbage bag and fill it with either loose-fill insulation or fiberglass batt.  Double-bagging for durability is optional.
2) stuff the insulation-filled garbage bag into the A/C-shaped hole, making sure it fills the whole cavity to the corners and edges.  There should be enough insulation so that when you stuff it in the hole, it fills all but the last 2" of the hole.
3) cut a piece of 2"-thick pink foam board to fit the hole, and fit it into place, flush with the inside face of the hole.  Secure it with expanding foam in a can or some sort of caulk.

Yes!!!!  You are picturing this correctly!!!!  The only thing, on the outside, only the side facing directly outside is perforated.  The top, bottom, and side walls of the box are solid metal. 

zolotiyeruki, so far your solution make the most sense to me and would be the easiest to implement with the fiberglass batt and securing the foam board with caulk and covering it all up with the metal cover that comes with the box. 

I will still post pictures tonight for clarity.

Большое спасибо! :)



The_path_less_taken

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The previous responder suggests that you FIRST patch the outside with a plywood patch on the OUTSIDE WALL.  You may need to temporarily remove the metal grate to install such a patch.  Inside, you should consider making a rigid foam insulation "patch" that will exactly fill the hole.
  • Use a piece of newspaper or cardboard to draw a template for the hole.
  • Pick up some 2-inch rigid foam insulation from the home store - something like this.
  • Cut a rigid foam "patch" using your template and a kitchen knife.
  • Fit it in the hole with the reflective layer facing OUT.
  • (optional) Cut a 2nd patch matching the first one, and glue the (2x) 2in thick foam boards together.
  • For the INSIDE, use a piece of plywood that's 4-to-6-inches wider than the hole on all sides.
  • Fasten the double-width "patch" to the plywood with glue or screws.
  • Position the patch with plywood front in the hole, and use drywall screws to fasten it to the wall.
  • Caulk around the plywood, and paint (if desired).
 
Don't worry about the screw holes - you'll be adding value to the apartment.  You can spackle over the screw holes when you move out... IF the landlord wants you to.

This. Although I'd just put a piece of tarp on the outside portion. I'd also ask other tenants/the super how they are currently dealing with it

Mother Fussbudget

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If you're wanting to go VERY cheap, and VERY low-frills, you could fill a double-bagged garbage bag with packing peanuts, and stuff THAT into the hole. 

It sounds like you should consult the property manager and ask them to (please) fill the hole.

Tester

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Yes!!!!  You are picturing this correctly!!!!  The only thing, on the outside, only the side facing directly outside is perforated.  The top, bottom, and side walls of the box are solid metal. 

zolotiyeruki, so far your solution make the most sense to me and would be the easiest to implement with the fiberglass batt and securing the foam board with caulk and covering it all up with the metal cover that comes with the box. 

I will still post pictures tonight for clarity.

Большое спасибо! :)

Now I (think I) understood how the hole looks :).
What zolotiyeruki said will work.

One thing to keep in mind - that metal box going from outside to the inside will be a thermal bridge - it will be cold while the rest of the materials will be warmer - could lead to condensation, but I don't know how big this problem will be.
Just keep this in mind and look for signs of moisture, as this can lead to mold and health problems - especially if you are allergic to mold (like me :)).

zolotiyeruki

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Yes!!!!  You are picturing this correctly!!!!  The only thing, on the outside, only the side facing directly outside is perforated.  The top, bottom, and side walls of the box are solid metal. 

zolotiyeruki, so far your solution make the most sense to me and would be the easiest to implement with the fiberglass batt and securing the foam board with caulk and covering it all up with the metal cover that comes with the box. 

I will still post pictures tonight for clarity.

Большое спасибо! :)
пожалуйста! (holy cow, my russian typing skills are rusty) :D
Knowing that only the one side is perforated makes me want to adjust my suggestion slightly--put an additional piece of foam board against the perforated side before you put in the "trash bag of insulation".

Tester makes a good point about the thermal bridging via the metal box.  When trying to avoid condensation and mold, the trick is to 1) keep cold air (and other cold objects) away from humid air, and 2) give condensation an easy way to evaporate again.  If you seal the inner piece of foam board to the inside of the metal box (and expanding foam is *really* good for this), the humidity from the indoor air won't be able to get past it.  It will only be able to condense on the indoor part of the metal box, where it will have an easier time evaporating again.

FiguringItOut

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Here are the pictures as promised.

Picture of the opening in the wall from the inside in my living room.
Picture of how it looks from the outside.  Its on the second floor with no way of getting to the outside.  The weather proofing needs to be done from the inside only.
And picture of the window a/c sitting in the opening in my bedroom.  The black 'frame' around it are strips of foam I put around a/c since it is so much smaller then the opening.


pk_aeryn

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Did the apartment come with these ACs?   One thing is to check the housing codes and health and safety codes for your city and state-- your landlord might be required to provide something more secure or tight.  Generally walls and windows have to be secure and in working order.

FiguringItOut

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Did the apartment come with these ACs?   One thing is to check the housing codes and health and safety codes for your city and state-- your landlord might be required to provide something more secure or tight.  Generally walls and windows have to be secure and in working order.

No.  The small a/c in the bedroom is mine, I brought it with me.  There were covers on both openings which I took of.  The covers are just flat metal covers, they do not provide any insulation.

Not sure about requirements.  I;m renting second floor in the private house.  There is another tenant here renting half of first floor.  The own lives in the remaining half of first floor floor and the basement.  I don't believe that they are required to provide a/c units.

Argyle

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I'm skeptical that it's legal to rent out an apartment with two holes in the walls like this, with no remediation.

One thing I know is that it's the landlord's responsibility to fix this problem.

Nothing jerry-rigged is going to fix this.  You don't want to have to invent a solution.  You want the landlord to pay for a professional to cover and insulate these.

What I actually think you want is a different apartment.  I'd wager that the presence of these, unfixed by the landlord, is enough to declare the department legally substandard and to break your lease.

worms

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The previous responder suggests that you FIRST patch the outside with a plywood patch on the OUTSIDE WALL.  You may need to temporarily remove the metal grate to install such a patch.  Inside, you should consider making a rigid foam insulation "patch" that will exactly fill the hole.
  • Use a piece of newspaper or cardboard to draw a template for the hole.
  • Pick up some 2-inch rigid foam insulation from the home store - something like this.
  • Cut a rigid foam "patch" using your template and a kitchen knife.
  • Fit it in the hole with the reflective layer facing OUT.
  • (optional) Cut a 2nd patch matching the first one, and glue the (2x) 2in thick foam boards together.
  • For the INSIDE, use a piece of plywood that's 4-to-6-inches wider than the hole on all sides.
  • Fasten the double-width "patch" to the plywood with glue or screws.
  • Position the patch with plywood front in the hole, and use drywall screws to fasten it to the wall.
  • Caulk around the plywood, and paint (if desired).
 
Don't worry about the screw holes - you'll be adding value to the apartment.  You can spackle over the screw holes when you move out... IF the landlord wants you to.

I'd go down this route, but if you want it for winter, I would want a reflective layer facing in to the room.  In practice, I would buy 4 inch foam board with a foil coating to both sides.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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The landlord really should fix this.

James

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I would second the suggestion of asking the landlord to cover and insulate the opening without an a/c unit. Having a unit isn't a requirement to renting, so securing the opening should be his responsibility. Having said that, you might do a better job than he would do anyway, so I would probably just do it yourself.


I would start by using that plastic cardboard like substance you can get from walmart or wherever. It has some structure and is going to protect against rain soaking in, just cut it to be placed flush against the back wall of the metal box. Foam could be used for this also. Then tape around the outside of that sheet to seal against air leakage, using either aluminum tape or duct tape. Then continue with whatever you want for insulation. Could be garbage bag with stuff in it, foam, insulation, etc. Finally add another sheet of foam for plastic cardboard to the inside and seal with more tape.


For the bedroom just use foam or whatever insulating material you want, and then make sure to seal it properly and completely with tape.


Finally, if you are still fighting air leaks in the wintertime cover the entire area with the plastic to seal it. The window insulating kits would work great for that. I wouldn't be surprise if you had some air leakage from that a/c unit in the bedroom so covering that with plastic in the winter might be good.

FiguringItOut

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What I actually think you want is a different apartment. 

No, I asked exactly what I want. 

===========

In general, these opening are build into these dwellings by design.  Every house in my neighborhood has these.  The only way to close them up is to stick a $600 air conditioner in there.  People who rent these type of apartments, buy their own through-the-wall a/c units.  http://www.homedepot.com/b/Heating-Venting-Cooling-Air-Conditioners-Coolers-Air-Conditioners-Through-the-Wall-Air-Conditioners/N-5yc1vZc4md
People who lived in my apartment before me took their a/c units with them to the next apartment.

It is my choice that I don't want to spend $1200 on the a/c units.  The landlord is not required to buy them for me.  I knew there were these openings when I rented the place.

Anyhow, I got some really great ideas on how to handle this and I appreciate the help. 


justchristine

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I have a similar set up in my apartment except the AC unit is included in mine.  I have a plastic cover that goes over the interior portion of the AC unit and secures with 4 screwy things.   

It looks like this> http://pnproducts.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/air-conditioner-cover.jpg

Maybe you could get something like that and fill the cover with insulation.  then add a back to it to keep the insulation from working its way into the metal box.  if that makes any sense.