Can You Do AC Installation Yourself?

December 23, 2019

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Homeowners today are tackling more home improvement projects than ever before including AC installation and maintenance, aided by online tutorial videos and the ability to rent power tools from a local hardware store. Appliance manufacturers are also designing new equipment as simply as possible, to ensure they’re installed quickly and easily and with little risk of damage.

AC installation is not a DIY job, as a new air conditioner compressor needs proper balancing on an exterior concrete pad and your thermostat also typically needs calibration and other adjustments once the unit is installed. Homeowners also risk electrical shock and overloading the home’s wiring with new AC installation.

While you might be tempted to avoid the cost of AC installation by managing this job yourself, you might consider some added information about new residential air conditioning systems and the benefits of hiring an AC contractor. This will ensure you have a functioning residential air conditioner for years to come while also avoiding the risk of damage to the home’s electrical systems!

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Why You Should Avoid Residential AC Installation Yourself

Consider a few reasons why AC installation is best left to a professional, even if you consider yourself “handy” around the house and have a nice selection of tools at your disposal! Remember to discuss these concerns with an air conditioning contractor near you, to ensure you make the best choices for your home and new appliances.

  • Air conditioning compressors need a level and even surface for installation, to ensure fan blades spin properly and there is no excess wear and tear on the motor and all other moving parts inside the compressor.
  • An air conditioning compressor also needs proper clearance, for adequate air circulation. Your home might have a concrete pad outside for a central air conditioner unit, but it’s beneficial to have it inspected by an AC installer for chips, cracks, sinking, and other damage, and to ensure your new unit fits properly in that same spot.
  • An air conditioning contractor near you might also suggest a new blind or covering for the compressor, to protect it from leaves, twigs, dust, and other debris, and to provide shade from overhead sunlight and hot summertime weather.
  • The bearings and other moving parts of a new AC unit often need oiling before you turn the unit on for the first time. Adding too much oil can mean allowing it to spill onto other parts of the compressor while failing to oil those parts also means wear and tear on the unit and the risk of early breakdown!
  • An air conditioning installation company near you ensures that a unit is tested fully before they leave, to ensure you don’t experience an unexpected breakdown during summer months due to faulty wiring, obstructions in the unit, and other issues.
  • An upgraded, larger unit or one with more controls and functions might require added electricity than your current air conditioning. If you fail to upgrade the wiring to the air conditioner compressor, this can mean brownouts and blown circuits, as well as added wear and tear on your new air conditioning unit. An AC installer near you can test the home’s wiring and ensure all electrical components are able to support your new appliance.
  • Even before you purchase a new AC unit, an air conditioning company near you might help you choose the right size for your home and local area, based on average summertime temperatures, the amount of shade on your property, interior insulation, and other factors. With their advice, you can choose the best unit for your home and enjoy a cool and comfortable interior environment.

Note, too, that many air conditioning contractors offer to perform an energy evaluation for homes before assisting with the purchase of a new AC unit. Addressing poor insulation or ventilation, having the home’s ducts cleaned, and calibrating the thermostat all ensure your new AC unit works efficiently and avoids added stress on the unit.

Risks of Improper AC Installation

If you’re still not convinced to call an AC contractor near you for needed installation of your new air conditioning compressor and other parts, you might note some risks of faulty or improper AC installation. Consider that some of these risks can result in costly home repair bills down the road, so it’s best to invest in the price of an AC contractor instead!

  • Failing to seal ductwork properly results in lost air through those ducts, so that your new AC works harder to keep your interior space cool. You’ll have an uncomfortable home and higher energy bills!
  • Leaky ductwork also results in condensation which results in water damage and eventual mold growth inside the home.
  • Overly long piping also means the risk of condensation and water damage and mold growth inside the home. An AC installer near you will ensure piping is properly sized without using excessive lengths of piping and hoses.
  • Even new AC units might suffer from refrigerant leaks, due to damage while on a truck or in a warehouse. Failing to check for leaks puts added stress on the AC unit and results in a costly refrigerant recharge down the road.
  • Virtually every new AC unit comes with a manufacturer’s warranty; however, improper installation and even DIY installation might void that warranty! To avoid this risk and the potential for costly repairs, always rely on an AC installation contractor near you for your new air conditioning unit.

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How to Choose the Right AC Size

When you’re in the market for a new residential air conditioner, you might be tempted to buy the largest and most powerful model you can afford. On the other hand, you might be afraid to invest in anything other than the cheapest model, assuming that all central air conditioners are alike.

However, note that an undersized unit won’t be able to cool your home efficiently and may almost constantly; the money you’ll pay in electrical costs might far outweigh the investment in a more moderate unit! On the other hand, an oversized unit might cool a home’s interior before it can remove excess humidity, so your home is than cold and clammy!

Many air conditioning contractors recommend 1 ton of air conditioning capacity for every 600 to 1000 square feet of interior space. Opt for more cooling power if your home lacks shade trees or sufficient interior insulation, and less cooling power for homes with lots of shade and few windows to let in hot sunlight. Open areas, without interior walls to block the flow of cooled air, might also need less power to stay sufficiently comfortable, whereas “choppy” footprints that cut off airflow might require more power for sufficient cooling.

AC Installation Choices Without Ductwork

If your home lacks ductwork or there are areas of the home without ducts, such as a backroom or attached garage, you can still enjoy a comfortable AC installation! A split system air conditioner functions without ductwork; this AC includes a panel installed in a room, either along one wall or in the ceiling. This panel controls the system rather than a separate thermostat in the home.

Piping behind that panel runs to the outside of the home, for ventilation and exhaust. The motor and blower of the unit are located behind the front panel and work to circulate cool air around the area in front of the panel, rather than pushing air through ductwork. Hotel rooms typically have split system units, so each room has its own air conditioning system versus a central unit.

Split system air conditioning units are less powerful than central units but offer more cooling than window or portable units. Many split system units offer enough power to cool the first floor of a small home, depending on its overall footprint and layout. You might also install a split system in a backroom or garage, or any such space not connected to the home’s ductwork.

Related Questions

How long does AC installation take?

The time it takes to install a new air conditioning unit depends on the work needed to remove the current unit, connect wiring, and seal ductwork. Most AC installations require 4-8 hours, while a furnace and AC installation together might require up to 12 hours to complete.

Is it bad to run an AC unit constantly?

Running an AC unit constantly puts added stress and strain on the unit and can easily overheat the motor. The condenser coils are also likely to freeze! If your home is never cool enough, you might invest in a new AC installation rather than keeping your current unit running constantly.

Does a new central AC unit add value to a home?

While only a real estate agent can tell you if a new AC installation will add value to your home and how much, consider than an old unit in disrepair, or undersized window units rather than a central unit, can often decrease a home’s value! Investing in a new AC unit keeps you comfortable and ensures your home appeals to potential buyers, should you put it on the market.

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