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Weil's World

Those Unsightly Condensing Units

It's just another day in the life: the housing market fairly shaky and home sales prices continue to drop. It shouldn't be any surprise that homeowners trying to sell their houses are looking high and low for ways to inexpensively make their homes more marketable. We've certainly seen a trend toward remodeling, painting, and/or sprucing up the outside and inside appearance of their abodes. In fact, the number of articles, editorials, and advice columns on this topic have skyrocketed.

For example, on the MSN Money website, an article entitled, "How The Pros Sell Their Own Homes," written by Tara Struyk for Investopedia, states, "As a general rule, homeowners are shocked by strangers' first impressions of their homes. A home is largely a reflection of its owner, so it's hard for an owner to accept that other people find the decor, cleanliness, or even the smell of the home distasteful."

I believe this is mostly true. But then I ran across an article written in the August 6th edition of the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper titled, "Cover Up or Hide Unsightly Outdoor Areas When A Home Is For Sale." Written by Jill Sell, this article promoted using covers that look like shrubs to hide condensing units.

Say what? Look, I know that most homeowners don't cherish the look of the condensing units that sit outside their houses and that ever since air conditioning became affordable enough to be in virtually every home, people have sought ways to hide them from view. Usually that entailed building fences around them or planting shrubs. But to encase them in covers? How safe can that be?

I decided to investigate further. Sell's article claims the covers are manufactured from recycled plastic and has "the lowest scale flammability rating," and helps reduce noise and dirt collection. It is manufactured by a company called Real Life Products and the product is called the TRICC Utility Cover. On their website, the only information on the safety of this product says the TRiCC utility cover was field tested by a LEED certified engineering firm and showed no short cycling or overheating of equipment it covered. Their only recommendation was for the homeowner to use the open-back cover option to accommodate line sets to the unit.

My first thoughts after reading this were, what is a "LEED certified engineering firm, what tests were done, and were they safety certified? There are no answers on the website. The fact that they cite this mysterious LEED certified firm regarding short cycling and over-heating insinuates that these covers are used when the air conditioning equipment is in operation. I can certainly see using them or any other kind of cover in the winter when the air conditioning system isn't being used, but it makes no sense to me to cover a condensing unit that is in operation. And yet, a major metropolitan newspaper ran an article on these covers, touting them as a great way to make a home more appealling to potential buyers. Do products like this pose a danger to homeowners and a potential black eye to the HVAC Industry?

What are your thoughts on this?

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