HVAC Hacks: Tips for Novices and New Homeowners

Beyond Constant Repairs Or Too Many Window Units: Does Your Home Need Retrofitting For Central Air?

Your home's air conditioning system may be so antiquated that it's costing you a fortune to run and repair. Or you may not have a central system; instead, you might have an AC unit in every other window, which is also costly and inconvenient. What's a homeowner to do? Should you continue with your old system to avoid the expense and trouble of a replacement? Should you stick with those bulky window units you really can't stand? No. Because it's your home, it should be your castle, and that means making the upgrades and overhauls that solve problems, turning headaches and woes into comfort and satisfaction.

Why You May Want To Retrofit Your Home For Central Air Conditioning

Depending on the age and condition of your home, the central air may not be working as well as it should. That unfortunately leads to other problems such as an increase in the cost of cooling the house due to inefficiencies. Older systems might be making so much noise that you can't even sleep on those hot summer nights anyway, even if the temperature is comfortable. If you intend to sell your home anytime soon, you'll also need to consider upgrading that ancient AC system to something more in line with the 21st century.

Additionally, your old system may not be up to par with local building codes; although you might be protected by a grandfather clause, those violations could cost you on insurance. The health effects of mold might also prompt you to consider replacing your old AC system, especially if you or someone else in the home is young or old if someone suffers from allergies.

If you have no central air and are relying on individual window units instead, you probably have an aching back, among other complaints. Window units may keep the immediate vicinity cool, but they don't usually have the power to extend to other areas of the home, forcing you to install a unit in many different windows. Not only is that hard on your back, but it can be draining on your budget, too—not to mention the storage space they require during the off-season and the various bugs that may enter your home through the cracks around each unit. 

Cost and cooling ability are likely your main reasons for looking into a retrofitting for central air, although you may have more of your own reasons to add to the list.

How To Know If Your Home Is A Viable Candidate

Even if your heart is set on central air, your home must qualify. Most homes are candidates for retrofitting, but some more viable than others. For example, if you already have forced-air gas or electric heating in the house, the retrofit should be fairly uncomplicated; however, in the event you have no ducts whatsoever or there's baseboard heating, the job could be far more intricate. Nonetheless, an HVAC contractor should still be able to work their magic on your home; you'll just have to decide on a few options:

  1. Putting in the air ducts, which may be time-consuming and challenging, depending on the configuration of your house, but this is still usually an economical and feasible approach.
  2. Installing an AC that doesn't rely on air ducts, which can cost more and requires outdoor space for the compressor. Ductless systems can intensely focus cooling into one or two rooms in the home, rather than the entire structure, which is a feature that can be very appealing to some homeowners.
  3. Adding a rooftop AC and/or heating combo unit, which might be challenging for contractors, depending on your home's construction and configuration.
  4. Fitting a high-velocity air conditioner (also possibly combined with a heating element) into the home, along with the tubes it needs, in place of the duct work.

How The AC Retrofitting Might Proceed

The job of retrofitting or overhauling for an AC system could be very involved, drawn-out, and expensive, depending on the choices you make and the amount of work involved in installing the new system. On the other hand, it might be a lot quicker and cheaper than you're thinking, but either way, the long-term benefits of cost and temperature control should be primary considerations, too. Especially if you're currently cooling off with an old and inefficient system or if you have window units with gaping cracks that allow outdoor air in, you're probably bleeding a lot more money than you realize now.

Who To Talk To About Your Needs

You'll have a lot of questions about your particular needs and how retrofitting could work in your home. Find a local HVAC contractor who will sit down and talk with you at length after inspecting your home and current AC system. You may only need a minor upgrade, or you may need a major overhaul or, to add further complication to your decision, the best option may be to combine your heating and cooling into a new and improved system. No matter what, though, you're most likely to benefit from having this much-needed conversation with a contractor. One way or another, a change is in order around your home, and an HVAC specialist is the best person to help you understand that scenario.

If you're constantly fighting with your existing central AC or if you're tired of dealing with too many window units, it's time to do something about it. Your home is your castle, and as such, it ought to be the place where you're most comfortable, with the fewest worries. Contact a company that offers AC services to learn more.