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A Short Guide to AC Retrofitting in an Old House
05
January

By jsg / in /

A Short Guide to AC Retrofitting in an Old House

You need central conditioning if you want to spend your days and night in comfort regardless of the season. It is nice to know that you just need to set the thermostat when the temperature skyrockets or plummets. Older homes need that extra care and attention with their central air conditioning. This guide should help you get started when you are considering retrofitting the AC in your old Bay Area house.

Type of Existing Heating System

You need to understand that each house is unique with different requirements. There are various different types of air conditioning and heating systems. Few systems are easier to retrofit than other. For instance, forced air systems generally already have the ductwork in place. Existing system in such units may need modifications. In contrast, there are no ducts in electric baseboard systems. This means the addition of ducts will need to be carried out during the retrofitting process.

Existing Electrical System

Homes built three decades ago would not have the right electrical system in place for withstanding the electrical needs of modern conveniences and appliances of today’s times. Your electrical panel will need enough room for adding a breaker that supports the HVAC system for accommodating your new unit. You should consider upgrading the circuit breaker box as well.

Choosing the Right HVAC System for Older Homes

There are two broad types of HVAC systems – split systems and package systems. Split systems use indoor fan and cool systems with outdoor condensers. They distribute the refrigerant, which is piped from external units throughout the home using ducts.

Package systems use a fan and coil for propelling the condenser-cooled refrigerant through the ductwork. The ducts are connected directly resulting in a large sized air conditioner.

Retrofitting is possible in most older homes. However, it’s necessary that you approach the task with strong and solid knowledge base. These are a few factors you should consider:

  1. Size

Units that are too small are unable to cool homes during hot weather months. They may end up overworking which will cause significant strain on your energy bills. Over-sized units also waste a lot of energy.

  1. Energy Efficiency

You need to find a system with a good SEER rating since there can be major fluctuations in the climate.

  1. Cost

You need to consider upfront costs. You would need to pay significantly more when ductwork is created in homes that do not have ducts. Electrical panel upgrade is another cost that gets left out when budgeting.

Hiring the Right Contractor for Retrofitting

There are several things you need to take care of before committing to a company for retrofitting your air conditioner. You need to check their references and review the company’s reputation online. You also need to ensure the company is bonded, licensed, and insured. You can always go with a known contractor after getting references from friends and family. It is advisable to speak with at least three contractors before deciding on one.

It is not uncommon for air conditioners to be retrofitted in older homes. You can always find a contractor who has the right experience and is within your budget.


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