Informational Guide

How to Move, Transport & Ship Your AC

Learn how to transport an AC properly without damaging it for future use.

by Dmitri Kara

At AirconditionerLab.com, we know that you might have a ton of reasons to move your air conditioning system, but there is always a risk factor.

For example, you may wish to increase the property value, enhance curb appeal, make renovations in the house, change the AC brand, or move to a new home.

Whatever the reason, any industry expert will tell you it is essential to first learn how to handle dismantling and then transport of cooling and heating units. In this guide, we aim to cover the details and proper manner in which to dismantle, pack, and move your air conditioning system safely.

Although it is easy to move a small portable window air conditioner, conditioning units DIY is not advisable.

To move an air conditioner safely, you must drain the refrigerant chemical substances into an approved container. This can happen with help from your local air conditioning repair store. Blind DIY is dangerous, and copper lines are costly.

Before moving your air conditioner, make sure you drain chemicals properly and that your air conditioner is clean of dirt, dust, debris, or soil build-up.

Turn Off The Power Of Your AC Unit

This step seems obvious, but if overlooked, it can quickly become a health hazard.

  1. Unplug the power cord from your unit and work with peace of mind.
  2. For hard-wired air conditioners, switch off the circuit breaker from the electrical network.
  3. If the breakers are not labeled, and you cannot identify them, it is best to contact an electrician to pinpoint and turn them off.
Split Air Conditioner on House Roof

Drain Refrigerant Fluids

The first step in the process of moving your AC unit is to drain it (central, window, outdoor, portable, alike). This is an essential measure, as working fluids contain hazardous chemicals.

Below, we’ve comprised a few easy-to-implement steps to help you prepare an AC for the move.

  1. Shut down your outdoor unit by unplugging the power cord.
  2. Open the access door on the exterior unit so that you can see the evaporator coils and the drain pan right under it. As for the indoor units, the coils are typically placed on the air intake side.
  3. Once you locate the drain pan, use suction of standing water with a wet-dry vacuum cleaner until the pan is clear. If there is a negligible amount of water, simply damp it up with a dry towel/cloth.
  4. Next, use vinegar or dish soap to clean the drain pan, removing mold, dirt, and other debris. This will decrease the chances of future mold and algae development.

Once you complete the procedure, you will be ready to move forward and disassemble the unit. Mind that no matter the type (central, window, outdoor, portable, etc.)

Prep, Detach & Dismantle Your Air Conditioner

It is no doubt a laborious task to take down and disassemble an AC unit on your own, but we assure you it is possible.

Before you begin, gear up:

  • Screwdrivers;
  • Grip gloves;
  • Towels/Cloths for cleaning the unit;
  • A zip-bag to store small parts;
  • A dolly to move the air conditioner.

Moving central air conditioners have flexible lines designed to transport refrigerants. These hoses are delicate and get damaged easily if you move a conditioner to a different location.

Clean-Up & Remove Outside Covers

  1. Bring a stepladder for better access.
  2. Go to the outside wall where your unit is installed.
  3. Clean your AC prior to dismantling.
  4. Damp moisture in refrigerant lines to avoid clogs and flow disruptions.
  5. Wipe the protective cover of the appliance with a wet towel/cloth to remove excessive dirt. This will prevent debris from getting into the unit once you detach it.
  6. Clean fins from build-ups.
  7. Remove the screws that secure this part of the unit to the main body.
  8. Pull off the top by hand.
  9. Place the screws in a plastic bag and label them.
  10. If your unit is not sealed with screws, gently pry the cover open with a screwdriver and remove it.

Note: If your AC unit has a metal grill, put gloves on and be mindful when you handle the sharp edges. Safety first!

Wash the AC Filter

  1. Remove the reusable filter.
  2. Place it in a laver (or a sink/bathtub).
  3. Fill halfway with lukewarm, soapy water.
  4. Wash it and use a soft brush to get rid of excessive dirt.
  5. Let the filter dry fully before you place it back inside the unit.

Failing to sanitize the filter can bring along nasty and unpleasant odors, especially if you have the unit near your cooking area, and that’s a common mistake when people make kitchen makeovers tight on budget.

Vacuum Interior Portion

  1. Vacuum dust and dirt outside the interior sides and the bottom of the air conditioner.
  2. Use a damp cloth to remove the remaining debris.

Detach The AC & Use А Dolly To Move It

  1. Extend or replace copper fuel and electrical lines.
  2. Remove the screws from the bottom, top, and sides of the chassis.
  3. Disconnect fragile cables for smart connections, heat pumps or thermostat electrical wiring.
  4. Push on the vents at the rear of the AC by hand to dismantle dryer, exhaust air, etc from the body.
  5. Grip and pull the sides of the unit toward you to remove them from the chassis in the wall.
  6. Then, lift the air conditioner out of the window, put it on a dolly, and close the side panels.
  7. Mind not to hurt the outdoor condenser coil or capacitor.

Job well done! Now get ready to pack.

Pack Your Air Conditioner Safely

Once you’ve detached the AC unit,

  1. Tape the power cord to the side of it.
  2. Do not place the cord on the back of the body where the coils are!
  3. Careful with your evaporator unit, exhaust vent, and heat pump.
  4. Pack the AC in its original box if you still have it. If not, buy packing boxes and pad them well with newspaper.
  5. Avoid styrofoam peanuts as padding because they get inside the unit and cause issues.
  6. Tape up the box.
  7. Label it.
  8. Put it on a dolly.
  9. Transport it to the moving van.
  10. Load it.
  11. Drive carefully or fit it in the correct storage unit until ready to re-install.

Load & Secure The AC On The Truck

Poorly-secured units are prone to shaking and damage that you could easily avoid if you do things right and cut the risk.

You need to figure out how to move an air conditioner into or out of a vehicle, and that requires both a system and a plan.

You can try using a standard jack or ramp to load it in your moving vehicle, it just doesn’t hold up to the task, or maybe you think to use the receiver tow hitch to hook a caravan or trailer, note towing experts Elecbrakes. If you can’t do it alone, don’t be shy to ask for professional help, professionals advice.

Load AC in a Truck

How to Transport Your AC Safely?

If you’re wondering how to load and unload a car if you have to do it yourself, it may be possible to build a DIY ramp. You’ll need to figure out how to set the ramp up and down, so it’s not too heavy. For heftier units, it’s best to have the real thing.

Working with a single lift chain hoist setup will make moving the compressor pretty easy. You don’t need much support, and you won’t even need an unistrut or trolley.

Load the unit towards the front of the moving van. The rule of thumb is to place your air conditioner upright, whether you relocate, store, or install it. We highly recommend not transporting your unit on its side or in an upside-down position.

The reason is that such placement can easily cause damage to the compressor’s mounting, as oil settles to the bottom, thus the compressor becomes deprived.

This, in turn, could be the culprit in future burnout.

Can you Put, Store, or Lay an AC on its Side?

Never do that to a working AC. Being on its side or back can severely damage the compressor.

If storing it on its side is a must, leave the AC to rest in the upright position for at least an hour before you turn it on for oil to resettle.

What to do if Your Appliance Was Stored on its Side or Shipped that Way?

  • Turn the unit into a horizontal orientation for at least a day before you switch it on. This allows sufficient time for oils and lubricants to restore their proper levels, providing protection for internal gears and moving parts.
  • After you’ve loaded the moving truck, be sure to secure your AC and other items properly.
  • Cover your possessions with bubble wrap and additional padding, and secure them with ropes and ratchet straps.
  • Fasten the latter to the rails that run along the truck’s walls.

By doing so, your items will be delivered to your new location damage-free, comment storage providers and experts, Henfield Storage.

How Long Does it Take for Freon to Settle in an Air Conditioner?

Freon needs anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes to settle in. For the sake of your peace of mind, give it 24 hours before turning the AC on.

Should You Turn To A Professional to Re-install Your AC?

While DIY is great for certain projects, there are several reasons ‌why we recommend hiring an experienced technician for precise mechanical work to move your AC and later re-install your unit to your new home.

You need to consider:

Movers Transporting to New Home
AC Safety

Electricity and hazardous substances pose severe risks when handling an air conditioner.

If you don’t know how to redo electrical wiring, be it connections to your thermostat, disconnect box, or recharging the refrigerant, testing for leaks, or spotting signs of risky roof leaks. Any of these can quickly become a threat to you, your family, and your property.

Professionals have the experience and licenses needed to operate with AC units.

Air Conditioning Installation & Labor Cost

If you are not knowledgeable and well-prepared for an installation, a bad placement or strut channel wiring can easily damage your home appliance, surrounding walls, window units, not to mention considerable noise and air conditioner repair.

For example, if the refrigerant line is stretched or bent to excessive angles while moving, the unit can lead to a leak that will cause further problems and eventually, the need to dispose of the AC with responsible recycling in mind, comment experts from Rubbish Removal. Comfort, noise, sturdiness, they all need an expert mount.

Legal aspects

There are limitations on how far the line set can run and where you can install the appliance in terms of building engineering and the law. This is especially risky for commercial premises as working chemicals can contaminate restaurants, food, and poison people. If doing the work yourself, anyone else, or their property is damaged, you may be liable.

Professional technicians not only have their own insurance, but are also licensed to work with the equipment. Professionals have the knowledge, additional equipment, and specialized tools to catch, fix, or contain a problem on time.

So, why not hire an expert installer and use your spare time to focus on more pressing matters?

Moving Your AC, Now? Good Luck!

We hope this guide sheds a little light on how to handle and transport your system properly to avoid nervous and costly AC repairs. If you have questions, ask us. Have a safe AC move!

Last Updated on May 22, 2022

Dmitri Kara

Started writing as a jack of all trades in 2012 and is currently a recognized expert in a wide range of domestic and commercial trade topics. Dmitri has appeared for quite a few reputable outlets such as Today.com, Telegraph.co.uk, ReadersDigest.com, Reviews.com, IkeaHackers.net, and many more.

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