Air Conditioner Exhaust: Open Or Closed?

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Window-type air conditioners have a vent that can be opened or closed with a small black lever below the panel. Should you open the exhaust or should you keep it closed? We have researched the factors you need to consider and which could be most beneficial for you.

Generally, it is better to keep the vent closed for better insulation and energy efficiency. The vent is meant to let in some outside air to prevent staleness, so you can open it for only a while every night to prevent too much humidity and heat from seeping in.

There are other ways you can improve your room's temperature besides knowing when to keep the exhaust opened or closed. It all depends on your priority, your location, and preferences. If you are interested to learn more about air conditioner vents, keep reading below!

An old air conditioning unit mounted on metal bracket, Air Conditioner Exhaust: Open Or Closed?

What is an air conditioner exhaust for?

Air vents not only prevent stale air; they also maintain air pressure. When you open the vents, used air gets pushed out as cooled air is pushed in. The return path of air constantly changes the air pressure to be ideal, so you can breathe in the fresh air. 

AC units mounted on a concrete slab behind the house

Aside from the filter, air conditioner exhausts also fight impurities that may have gathered inside the room. Enclosed spaces are more prone to dirt, so you should open the vents to let out contaminated air inside.

Doing this, even for just about 10 minutes, is better for indoor plants, pets, and yourself.

How to Prevent Clogging in Air Conditioner Vents

An air conditioning unit exhaust photographed outside a building

Your air conditioner is basically the lungs of your home, and having it clogged with debris will damage the machine eventually. Your AC should be able to easily bring in and exhaust air when necessary.

Your AC will ice over the evaporator coils if the vents are consistently blocked since it will not have sufficient air to warm the liquid lines. It will disrupt the performance of your unit and cause inconvenience in your home.

To clean the air vents of a window-type AC, you will need to clean the unit itself.

  • Remove the filter
  • Straighten the cooling fins using a fin comb
  • Vacuum the gunk and dirt that have accumulated on the coils
  • Apply the coil cleaner
  • Spray the surface with foam and brush the fins
  • Clean the fan blades with a damp rag
  • Wash the air filters and let them air dry
  • Reinstall and switch on

How to clean exterior air vents

Some air conditioners have an exterior air vent that needs to be cleaned, especially when you notice the indoor air getting more stale.

  • Pull off the vents with a screwdriver
  • Vacuum the air ducts
  • Dust the vents and make a soapy water solution
  • Soak the vents in a large tub for 10-15 minutes
  • Air-dry the vents and wipe off with a towel
  • Put the vents back on the unit and turn it on again 

Does opening the vent consume more energy?

An AC unit mounted on reinforce metal ceiling framing

Opening the air conditioner exhaust from a few minutes to an hour should not hurt your utility bills too much.

However, you shouldn't leave it open for longer than two hours since that's the time your compressor will start working harder than necessary. You should open it if you feel the air may already be too stale and need fresh air to be reintroduced to your space.

How to fix stale air

You may notice that an air conditioned room begins to smell musty when you've been using it for hours. This happens because cold air just becomes recycled and recirculated around the space. 

Breathing in unventilated air can pose some health risks since indoor air pollution is just as dangerous as outside air pollution. It weakens our lungs, dries the skin, and can make us allergic.

Here is what you can do to rid your room of contaminants and unhealthy air. 

Deep clean your room

Cleaning carpet using a high-powered vacuum

Deep cleaning shouldn't stop with simply wiping off dust--you need to clean every surface where dirt can potentially collect. That includes your bedding, desks, cabinets, and even clothes.

This is important because some things in the room may have begun to smell musty since not being exposed to sunlight and fresh air. 

Put your items outside for a while and let them sun-dry. You can also spray them with a vinegar solution with equal parts water and vinegar (don't worry, the smell will fade) to disinfect mold and mildew. 

If you are not comfortable with spraying your items with this, you can settle for a disinfectant spray.

Open the windows and air vents

Air vent inside a house

The solution to removing stale air is to let in the fresh air. Opening the AC's exhaust will let air circulate better, improving your space's indoor air quality. 

Keep in mind that your vents should be clear of any dirt and obstruction so they can effectively replace the air inside without consuming too much energy.

You should also be aware that humid air can also enter, which might be uncomfortable if you live in hot and humid areas. However, you should still periodically open them just to let in the fresh air.

If you suffer from terrible allergies, it is best to invest in an air purifier or a humidifier. This way, you can fully control your indoor climate.

Change your air conditioner's air filter

Comparing dirty and clean air filter

If your unit is many years old, it may be time to completely change the filter. Cleaning it may still be an option, but you will eventually damage it with hard scrubbing. 

Air becomes staler when the circulating air is lightly dusted with dirt. Ensure that the air remains fresh for a longer time by changing or thoroughly cleaning your air filter. 

Cleaning it will also be better for your unit's overall health; it prevents the compressor from overworking itself and consuming more energy.

How to remove odors from an air-conditioned room

A central AC unit installed on a metal roof framing

Stale air already makes many of us feel queasy, but it is significantly more difficult to relax in a room with a harsh odor. Maybe you've eaten something delicious that left its residue in the room, or maybe a potted plant started to rot --whatever it is, you need to get rid of it!

Read: "New Air Conditioner Smells – What To Do?"

Remove the cause of the smell

Before you start switching on your appliances, get rid of the culprit first. Throw away smelly leftovers, clean up the dirt, and throw away any rotting indoor plants. This will make it easier for you to recirculate the air.

Open the windows and the ceiling fan

Now that you have thrown away the cause of the smell, it is time to let in the fresh air. Open all the windows to replace the bad smell, and turn on the ceiling fan to make the process faster.

Leave a bowl of coffee grounds

Coffee grounds help clear the air from any unpleasant odors. This is because they contain nitrogen, which neutralizes the indoor air. If you can't use a bowl, you can put them in an old, clean sock or stockings and let it act as a natural air freshener.

Power on the dehumidifier

The musty smell in a room may also be caused by excess moisture from recycled air. The dehumidifier will draw in the moisture in the air, removing the odor in the process.

Humid air retains odors better since the smell becomes trapped in the damp air. Dehumidifiers refresh the indoor air to make room for new air, making air circulation more effective.

To ensure that the dehumidifier performs at peak condition, make sure you place it at least six inches away from any wall or fixture. Open any enclosed space as well, including drawers and closets, so it can be ventilated and reduce the musty smell.

Read: "Where To Place A Dehumidifier."

See this dehumidifier on Amazon.

Use essential oils

A few drops of essential oil will do wonders for your room's smell. It is also more natural and potent than spray-on air fresheners.

You can utilize an aroma diffuser to distribute the aroma more evenly and improve your room's overall atmosphere. Simply put a few drops of essential oil on your water-filled diffuser and turn it on.

See this essential oil on Amazon.

Final Thoughts

An old air conditioning unit mounted on metal bracket

The air conditioner exhaust has many benefits, but only if used correctly. Utilize other resources that can pair with your vents, such as dehumidifiers and air purifiers, to make your indoor air healthier.

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