Spring is here and summer is never far behind. Soon it will be time to switch on the air conditioning for the season. But is yours ready? And do you need a new one?
Many homeowners don't think about their central air conditioning until there's a problem. In the best situation, all that you have to do is adjust the thermostat and you're all set. But if adjusting hasn't worked well in a while and your home is less than the ideal temperature, it's probably time to think about a new system.
Here are 4 facts that you need to know before taking the plunge.
Central air conditioning gives you choices. If your home has existing ductwork, the choices are simpler. If it doesn't, it's a bit more complicated. In this part of the country, most air conditioners are part of a central split system with an indoor and an outdoor unit. Indoors is the coil unit and outdoors is the compressor unit. For homes with existing ductwork, this is a likely choice. If there's no ductwork, which is common in older homes, your air conditioning contractor will need to install it.
Alternatively, there's the ductless mini-split system. As the name implies, they're small. They're also effective. Technically a high-efficiency heat pump, these systems do not require ductwork. The outdoor unit connects with the indoor unit using a small hose instead of large ducts. That means they'll work in older homes without finding or creating the space to install traditional ducts.
If a 2-ton air conditioning system is good, then a 3-ton must be better, right? Not really. And in many cases, a too-large system is less effective. The tonnage doesn't refer to the unit's size or weight, but its cooling capacity. The capacity that you need is determined by many factors including the amount of insulation in your home, existing air leaks and even the number and condition of windows.
Technicians use different methods to determine what a home needs. One method is called the Manual J, and all evaluate many different factors to arrive a the right size. If you choose an air conditioner that's undersized for the job, your home won't be cool enough. But if you choose one that's more than you need, you still won't be cool enough and you'll probably have a condensation problem.
Ductwork is almost never seen, but it's one of the most important parts of any central system. It connects to the air conditioner and carries cool air throughout your home. When the ductwork is in good condition and protected against leaks, your system works more efficiently and you stay cooler. But if leaks exist, Consumer Reports says your air conditioning's efficiency could be cut by 40 percent.
Ducts should be properly sealed and have adequate insulation. Sealing helps prevent conditioned air from leaking out before it reaches the different rooms in your home. Insulation helps prevent the warmer air in walls and ceilings from heating up the ducts and consequently warming the already conditioned air inside.
The difference between a good air conditioner and a terrible one is often in the hands of the contractor. A great system that's the perfect size for your home won't perform as well if it's not professionally installed. There are so many different things that could go wrong.
But when you work with a pro, you know that everything from the size of the system and levelness of the installation down to the seals where the ductwork meets the unit is done correctly. And that means your unit will work at peak efficiency and you'll stay more comfortable.
Air conditioning should be mainly worry free. But a system that you don't have to think about, aside from regular maintenance, requires getting the installation right from the beginning. And that usually requires the help of a professional HVAC tech.
If your home isn't as cool as it ought to be or you're worried about the condition of your central air system contact us today. At Rodenhiser Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning, we help remove some of the mystery so that your home can stay comfortable all year long.
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