Although your central air conditioning system has provided your home with cool, refreshing air for years, it's no longer cutting it. Even during mild heat waves, your air conditioner isn't cooling your home effectively—or efficiently. For this reason, you're planning to replace your existing system with an improved model. However, before you do so, make sure you discuss these issues with your air conditioning contractor:
Contrary to popular belief, the efficiency and effectiveness of your new air conditioning system isn't just determined by its BTU (British thermal unit) production. However, BTU production still plays an important role in determining how quickly your new system can cool your home and how much it will cost you each month to use your system.
Calculating your home's cooling requirements isn't an easy process. Several factors determine how many BTUs your new system must be able to produce in order to create efficient cooling. Duct size and length, insulation rating, potential sources of heat loss (such as windows or unsealed doorways), and even sunlight penetration through your windows and skylights will affect your home's load calculation.
Before you select a specific air conditioner model, make sure you discuss these factors with your contractor. Your contractor may be able to help you find ways to minimize the negative effects of these factors and decrease your air conditioner's load—which can result in decreased system requirements and monthly cooling costs.
Your air ducts are the most important component of your HVAC system. Since your ducts are used for both your furnace and air conditioner, their state must be inspected prior to the installation of your new system.
Your air conditioner operates by pulling air into your ducts and passing it over the evaporator coil—the series of refrigerant lines and metal coils that dehumidify and cool your indoor air. However, if your air ducts are too small, then the volume of air passing through your evaporator coil will be far less than the volume of air your system needs to keep its evaporator coil from becoming too cold. If your evaporator coil freezes, then it will sustain permanent damage and develop refrigerant leaks.
Additionally, if your ducts are too large, then your new system's blower motor may not be powerful enough to move the air in your ducts at a reasonable speed. Although more air will be passing through your ducts, it will be moving at a slower rate—which will negatively affect your new system's efficiency.
However, the size of your ducts isn't the only factor that will affect your new air conditioner. Ducts that leak air between connection points will also decrease your system's efficiency and increase your cooling costs.
Your contractor will measure your air ducts and determine whether or not they will be compatible with your new system. If they aren't, then your ducts will need to be resized. Although this is a labor-intensive process that will require several days, it will be well worth the cost.
Expected Maintenance Intervals
Buying and installing your new air conditioner will cost a significant amount of money. As with anything else that requires monetary investment, you must make sure you do everything you can to ensure your air conditioner's well-being.
Regardless of how often you use your new air conditioner, you'll need to perform regular maintenance. Periodic filter replacements, coil cleanings, and refrigerant charging is required to maintain the condition of your new system. However, not every air conditioner is the same--household air quality condition and other factors will affect the intervals at which these maintenance tasks are required.
By discussing load calculation, duct efficiency, and maintenance intervals with your air conditioning contractor, you can ensure you know what to expect once your new air conditioner is installed.