Window air conditioner unit fell off building -- advice needed

Old 10-31-05, 01:18 PM
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Window air conditioner unit fell off building -- advice needed

Apologies if this isn't the right place for this sort of question. I haven't been able to find any good answers elsewhere, and I'm not particularly knowledgeable about air conditioning units. Here's my situation:

I'm subleasing an apartment in New York City. My first night in the apartment, I cracked a window to let in some air...and the window-mounted air conditioning unit plummeted three stories and smashed into pieces on the sidewalk below.

The weight of the window was the only thing holding the unit in place. the unit wasn't even balanced on the sill; as soon as I cracked the window, the unit plummeted like, well, like a 120-pound air conditioner.

Fortunately, nobody was standing below, and no property was damaged. But I'm wondering who is responsible for replacing the unit itself. My intuition is that there is no way the unit was properly installed. But, on the other hand, the person I'm renting from has obviously managed to last several years in this apartment without hurling the air conditioner out the window.

Some questions:

1. Do building codes typically stipulate that window air conditioning units be securely mounted to the wall or sill?
2. Regardless of what the building codes say, do manufacturers typically provide instructions or equipment for securely mounting air conditioning units?
3. Who is responsible for replacing the unit? Me? The tenant I'm subleasing from? The landlord?

I realize that question 3 in particular veers dangerously close to legal advice, but please don't worry: I am just soliciting friendly opinions from people who might know more about these issues than I do, and I will interpret any responses to this post as suggestions or idle musings, no warranty expressed or implied.

Thanks in advance,

Old 10-31-05, 03:32 PM
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it will be hard to say who should take care of the new unint..

MOST window units are not secured into the window, and/or the window was not locked/screwed in place to help prevent this from happing.

So.. the landlord should of (he owns the a/c or who?) secured the window in place so no one can't open the window. or screw the unit to the window still.

it's common sense that a window that has a window unit in can't be open.. why? The unit relies on the window to keep it in place, and there's no screen in it.
Old 10-31-05, 03:42 PM
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I am guessing that unless there is statute requiring the unit or window to be secured, you are probably the one on the hook. I would see if there is something like a consumer protection bureau you could contact to find information for your specific area.
Old 10-31-05, 04:14 PM
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Regardless of who pays for the a/c unit I really think you should be out celebrating the fact that no one got killed.
The couple of hundred to replace the unit is a far cry from being named in a lawsuit that you could have been at least partially responsible.
There is a possibility that in court there would be joint responsibility.

Buy a new unit and be more carefull next time.
Old 10-31-05, 04:40 PM
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Oh, I'm extremely grateful that this situation didn't turn out far worse than it did. Last night when it happened I knew that I had dodged a bullet and basically felt delighted to just be out a few hundred bucks.

But today I began to get a bit angry about the whole thing. The incident was upsetting. It would be difficult to describe the sickening sensation of dread when the accident first happened, before I was able to determine that no one had been hurt. If you've ever been involved in a car accident, you probably the know the feeling.

And so when I took a closer look at the way the unit had been mounted, it struck me how gratuitously dangerous the whole set-up was. It's hard to give a sense of exactly how precariously the unit was installed, but I'll try: this building is very old, and has settled quite a bit. All of the walls and door frames are conspicuously skewed, and the window in question is extremely loose in the frame. It has over an inch of lateral wobble, enough so that I could literally wiggle the window out of the frame if I were so inclined. The sill itself is sloped downward toward the outside of the building.

So imagine this extremely heavy air conditioner, perched on a narrow, downward-sloping sill, held in place by a loose window. I find it a little shocking that this passes for acceptable. Needless to say, I've been looking up a lot as I walk down the street.

But it sounds as though people are saying that, regardless of how precariously this unit was installed, I was the fool that opened the window, so I'm probably the one who is going to have to suck it up and fix it. Fair enough. That was sort of my expectation going in.

In the meantime, any other comments are welcome. And if you know of any cheap window-mounted air conditioning units that are powerful enough to cool a small one-bedroom apartment, please pass along the info.

- Adam

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