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How to Retrofit Your Home for a Central Air Conditioning System

09/10/15

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Did you just suffer through another sweltering summer without air conditioning? The world endured the hottest July on record in 2015, and with temperatures projected to keep on rising, even families who have made it this far without a central air conditioning system might find themselves rethinking their position. The good news is, with just a few modifications, most houses can be retrofitted to accommodate a central air conditioning system, so their inhabitants aren't doomed to sweat it out forever.

Existing Duct Work Makes Everything Easier

The first thing you need to check when evaluating the suitability of your home for a central air conditioning system is what type of heating infrastructure you have. If you use a forced-air furnace that distributes heat through the home using a duct system, you're in luck – a contractor can simply install an AC unit and hook it up to the existing ductwork. A skilled technician can have you up and running in a day.

If you heat your home using radiators and a boiler, the process will be considerably more complicated. One option is to install new ductwork. The difficulty of the job will vary based on your floor plan – if there is a lot of space in the basement and attic, you might be able to install a system without too much trouble. Other homes that are more cramped can end up costing $10,000 or more for a duct retrofit.

Duct Free May Be the Option for You

Fortunately, there is another option – ductless air conditioning. A ductless central air conditioning system, also known as “mini-split,” uses an outdoor air compressor and multiple indoor air handlers. These units can be less expensive to install than an entire duct system in certain homes, and they also allow you to set up different cooling zones in different parts of the house, whereas forced-air systems tend to offer a one-size-fits-all scenario. Furthermore, mini-split systems are usually more efficient than forced-air setups because they don't lose energy from cold air leaking out of the ducts.

If you are serious about installing a central air conditioning system in your home, make sure you find a reputable contractor who will pull all the required permits and perform the work in full compliance with local building code. Otherwise, you risk shoddy work, health and safety hazards, and liability due to installations not completed correctly. A good HVAC technician, however, can walk you through all your options and help you make the right choice for your household. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to call a trusted HVAC expert today.



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