Renovating the air conditioning system in an older home can be daunting. You'll need to make many decisions during this process, whether your old air conditioning system no longer functions or you're just looking to upgrade to something more powerful and efficient. Unfortunately, there are also plenty of pitfalls that can lead to a less cost-effective or efficient system.
Working with a skilled HVAC contractor is the best way to avoid common mistakes, but educating yourself is also important. Keep reading to learn how to avoid the three biggest traps homeowners often fall into when renovating an aging air conditioning system.
1. Using Original Load Calculations
Contractors use complex formulas to determine your home's heating and cooling loads. When replacing an air conditioner, sizing is incredibly important. Your system needs to fall within a reasonable range for your climate, with oversized and undersized systems potentially creating problems for efficiency and reliability.
Your original installer likely performed this calculation when they installed your old system, but that doesn't mean you can replace your old equipment with an equivalent unit. The older your system, the more likely your home's cooling needs have changed. Performing a detailed load calculation when installing your new system is crucial to get the best possible performance over the long term.
2. Not Performing a Duct Leakage Test
Ductwork can last much longer than other HVAC components, but that doesn't mean problems won't develop over time. Older ductwork can develop leaks despite remaining safely behind walls and ceilings. Unfortunately, ductwork leakage can create major problems for your new air conditioning equipment. The EPA estimates that even relatively modern ductwork can leak about 30% of its air.
Because leaky ducts can cost so much, a duct leakage test is critical when renovating an older air conditioning system. Sealing leaky ductwork or replacing damaged sections can substantially improve your home's energy efficiency while allowing your new air conditioning system to perform as well as possible.
3. Failing to Add Zones
Many older HVAC systems use only a single zone for the entire house. This design is the simplest to install, but it can lead to comfort and energy efficiency issues. A single-zone AC system cools your entire house, even the parts that often remain unoccupied! With multiple zones, you can divide your home into separate areas based on usage or other factors.
Upgrading an older AC unit is the perfect time to divide your home into zones. Several options exist for renovating zones into an existing HVAC system, and this upgrade can be a great way to improve the efficiency of your new system further. At a minimum, you should discuss your options with your installer and decide if this approach is a good fit for your budget and needs.
Contact a company that provides air conditioning services to learn more.