Heating, Air Conditioning, Fridge, HVAC/Outdoor heat pump enclosure

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Question
QUESTION: Hello Craig,

I have a 3 ton American Standard heat pump sitting in the yard behind my house. It has a top mounted exhaust fan that blows vertically, which I'm guessing is called the 'condenser fan?? (not sure). The unit is located near a patio door off my kitchen, and I am considering building a deck off that door this coming summer.  This deck would be located very close to the heat pump, so I thought maybe for sound reduction and looks, about enclosing it by using a square wood framed box with lattace covering the top and the sides for air flow.  In your opinion, if I were to cover the heat pump with this type of enclosure, would the lattace allow enough air flow for the heat pump to still operate properly?  If not, could you give me some other tips as to how I may be able to conceal the heat pump without causing any problems with it's operation?   Thanks!

ANSWER: It is never a good idea to enclose a cond. unit.  They need a lot of good clean air to work.  Enclosing it is like you going on a jog and breathing through a straw. The unit also may need to be repaired or cleaned and an enclosure is going to make it harder to do.  If you insist on hiding it, you need to make sure the enclosure will come apart easy, has plenty of room around it (a foot or more on each side and not solid) and NOTHING over the top.

Craig

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QUESTION: My idea was to build a square box with one open side, which will just slide up against the outside wall of the house (behind the heat pump). It would be lightweight enough to move, for access to the unit if needed, as it could just be slid back away from the house and into the middle of the back yard.  My original idea was to use lattace on 3 sides and the top, but how about if I would use screen material (as in a screen door), instead?  I would build it big enough to have 1 foot of clearance on each side and the top.  Does this sound like it would allow enough air flow?  The unit itself doesn't look bad.  If you've ever seen an American Standard they are fairly attractive looking units.  This "enclosure" idea was just something I thought would make it blend into the landscape, with the wood deck, and my house with cedar siding, and my outbuilding is made of wood also.  But if there was a chance of causing damage or hampering the operation of the heat pump I can do without the enclosure.  Thanks for your advice.

Answer
The lattice on the sides should be ok, so long as it is open.  The ONLY thing I would put across the top would be chicken wire or something of the sort.  Screen would be to restrictive and would likely cause the air to recirculate around the unit.

Craig

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Craig HVAC Expert

Expertise

I have been in the HVAC field for the past 18 years. I can help with most HVAC questions. I work on commerical buildings for the most part, and have yet to find anything I could not troubleshoot and repair, when repairable. I work on small 1 ton units to a 2500 ton chiller. Troubleshoot air flow, elect, and control problems. I attend regular classes to keep up with the latest and greatest.

Experience

I work on commerical sites, hospitals, gov't buildings. I can troubleshoot just about anything in the HVAC business.

Education/Credentials
5 years trade school, VFD training classes, Liebert factory training, some York and Trane factory training.

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