Installing Central Air Conditioning
Central air conditioning units are not as expensive or difficult to install as some people think. In some homes, central air can be installed with just a few simple changes to existing furnace ducts. Even in homes with no ductwork, the installation can be completed with minimal damage to walls and ceilings. A professional contractor can help you determine the size unit you will need through careful consideration of several key factors.
During long hot summer months, there’s nothing better than cooling down in the comfort of your own home. Having an air conditioner that cools the entire house is a genuine luxury. Window units of the past are nowhere near as effective, generally cooling only one room at best. Central air conditioners are commonplace in new homes, and retrofitting older homes is becoming more popular each year.
However, there are still many people who believe installing central air in an old house is too expensive. In addition, they tend to think that installing the necessary ducts requires heavy damage to walls and ceilings. In reality, the process is not as complex or costly as you might think.
If your home is already equipped with a forced-air furnace, the ductwork is already in place but may need to be modified for central air.
A professional installer can usually accomplish this within just two or three days. The changes to the existing ducts are needed because the air conditioning unit pushes a greater volume of air through them than the furnace. You may also need to get a larger furnace blower and new supply registers. These upgrades will increase the amount of airflow through the system, making it more efficient. For homes without forced-air furnaces, installing the ductwork does not call for total destruction of walls. Instead, the ducts are typically placed in the attic floor and run down through closet spaces as much as possible.
In a two-story home, the ducts that run along the floor of the attic supply cool air to rooms on the second floor. The ducts that run through closet spaces on the second floor lead to ceiling registers in rooms on the first floor. Most ducts are very small, so they do not take up too much space even in little closets. In most cases, all of the ductwork can be installed with minimal mess or damage. Small holes are made in the ceilings for registers and some closet floors may be torn up for ducts. For the most part, though, walls and ceilings are left intact. When it comes to choosing the air conditioning unit, your most important consideration is size.
There are several influencing factors that determine the size unit you will need. Among other things, you should consider the location of doors and windows, amount of insulation, level of sun exposure, and the climate in your area. If the unit is not big enough, it will be overworked and probably shut down often as it becomes clogged with frost. The more common mistake is installing a unit that is too big. An oversize unit will cool the house down too quickly and turn off before the air circulation is complete, resulting in high humidity levels in the air. The air will feel cold, but clammy and uncomfortable.
The best way to ensure you select the proper size air conditioner is to consult a professional. He or she can perform a heat-gain calculation and draw upon knowledge and experience in making a size recommendation. Installing a central air conditioner generally costs a few thousand dollars, but you are sure to get several years of enjoyment out of your investment. You can also prolong the useful life of the system by performing a few simple maintenance tasks each year.
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