How to Install Central Air Conditioning Yourself | Air Ace
while 87 percent of us. uu. homes use some type of air conditioning, central air conditioning systems are the most sought after both for their comfort and their accessibility. If you’re looking to turn on a switch to cool your entire home, you may be wondering if it’s possible to install your own. and the answer is, you definitely can. Here’s how to safely and properly install central air conditioning yourself.
photo by elasticcomputefarm licensed under cc0
how does central air conditioning work?
A central air conditioner relies on ducts and registers (openings) to transport cool air throughout the house. Basically, the system draws air from outside, cools it, and then pushes it throughout the house through the ductwork.
There are two types of central air conditioning units: split system and packaged. A split system involves an outdoor unit and an indoor cabinet, while the compact type is in a cabinet either outside or on the roof of your house. compact units are those that can also function as a heater with the addition of electric heating coils or a gas oven.
If your home lacks ductwork to support your new system, you’ll need to look into some renovations to fit an air conditioner into your home. however, if you’re replacing an older unit with an updated, energy efficient one, you could see a significant difference in your energy bills.
Today’s units use up to 50% less energy to run than those produced just ten years ago, making a new unit a great investment for most homeowners. Of course, choosing the right size system will also affect your energy costs, so choosing the right system is crucial.
professionally installed central air conditioning systems
Here’s more information on having a central air conditioning system professionally installed, including the pros and cons.
advantages of a professionally installed central air conditioning system
While there are many projects you can successfully complete, there are times when it’s best to hire a professional to do the job. Here are some advantages of having a certified HVAC professional install and maintain your new air conditioning system.
no labor for the owner
If you’re doing the work, you may be crawling under your house, lifting heavy parts, preparing an installation site, pouring concrete, climbing the roof, or any other physical task. Hiring a professional eliminates the need to do more than just approve the job and pay the bill.
no preliminary work required
In addition to the physical aspects of installing a new air conditioning unit, many homeowners hire a professional so they don’t have to worry about paperwork. In most places, local government requires permits for many home improvement projects, including the replacement or installation of large-scale appliances such as home heating and air conditioning systems.
contractors and hvac professionals can get the right permits for you, making it easier on your schedule and getting things done quickly.
With most new installations, hvac professionals offer maintenance plans for these systems. If a company installs your new unit, they are already familiar with it and can go back and check things out when the owner asks. In addition, many installation packages include a specific maintenance plan to guarantee the life and safety of your unit.
disadvantages of a professionally installed air conditioning system
There are some downsides to hiring air conditioning installation work.
Although your contractor may negotiate a lower rate for your air conditioning unit based on its brand and manufacturer relationships, you’ll still pay for the labor costs to install the unit. You may also need to finance pre-installation work, which could include pouring a concrete slab or making modifications to fit the new assembly to your roof. however, the professional installer will handle the details of the job.
it is difficult to find a trustworthy company
For those homeowners who live in more rural areas, it can be challenging to find a professional who is willing and able to travel to install a new central air conditioning system. While country living has many advantages, delivery and installation of items is not one of them!
photo by elasticcomputefarm licensed under cc0
DIY central air conditioning systems
here we’ll look at the pros and cons of going the DIY route with your central air conditioning system. It’s important to keep these things in mind when learning how to install central air conditioning yourself.
advantages of a homemade air conditioning installation
For those who are itching to do some DIY work, there are a handful of advantages to going it alone. These are the main positive benefits of installing your new air conditioning unit yourself.
Benefit #1: Lower Costs
While the cost of the AC unit will likely be higher if you buy it yourself (many companies enjoy significant discounts from AC unit manufacturers when buying directly from the brand), you will save on costs installation if you do the work yourself. .
Of course, it may take you longer to complete the job, but when it comes to billable hours, you’re not paying anyone out of pocket.
benefit #2: learning something new
Many homeowners enjoy completing projects on their own because it forces them to learn more about the materials and processes used. if you plan to maintain your own air conditioning unit, it makes sense that you want to install it from scratch.
plus, developing those technical skills can result in you being able to recognize when there’s a problem with your system and potentially fix it yourself.
benefit #3: consumer choice
While most HVAC companies will recommend a specific brand or type of air conditioning unit, homeowners who obtain and install their own have ultimate control over the process. If you find a brand you like but your local hvac place doesn’t carry it, you can make it yourself and still get the specific product you want.
drawbacks of a DIY ac installation
these are the disadvantages of doing the installation of the air conditioning unit yourself:
disadvantage #1: administrative procedures take time
Especially for homeowners unfamiliar with working on their home and its electrical systems, navigating the permitting system for a new air conditioning unit can be challenging. most areas require permits for both the units themselves and any enclosures or platforms you need to install to place them.
You’ll need to talk to the county or city officials in your area to find out what permits you need, how much they cost, and what requirements you’ll need to meet.
drawback #2: length of work
When you’re working alone on a project, it can take a lot longer than if an experienced team were taking care of the details. Especially if you’re new to HVAC work, it could take much longer to install a new AC unit than it would take a contractor and crew to do it.
also, you won’t earn a wage for your hours, which means your time invested could end up costing more than if you paid someone else to handle it.
Drawback #3: Certification Requirements
Whether it’s removing an old AC unit or installing a new one that needs to add refrigerant, you’ll need specific certification to handle this yourself. You can get an EPA certification, but you’ll have to study and take an exam, plus pay a fee.
You must also have the same certification card to purchase additional refrigerant for a new unit that may be incorrectly charged.
where to find a central air conditioning unit
The easiest place to find a central air conditioning unit to buy is online. however, that is not always the best option due to possible shipping costs. some ac systems may require additional freight costs depending on where they are being shipped to and you may need to have a few people available to help you unload the unit if the delivery company won’t help you with that.
In addition to shopping online, here are some other ways to buy a central air conditioning unit:
- visit your local heating and cooling company. they may be able to help you find and order a unit (and maybe even arrange delivery) that suits your needs and your home.
- check your local hardware store for products or references
- Order through your local home improvement store. they might even be able to special order the unit you want.
- Contact local contractors for recommendations. There may be a local source of air conditioning units that you would not otherwise have access to as an owner.
Wherever you find your drive, you’ll want to make sure it’s in good working order or brand new. It’s okay to buy and install a used air conditioning unit, but then you run the risk of it malfunctioning or being less energy efficient than a newly purchased model.
falco photo with cc0 license
how to install central air conditioning yourself
Once you’ve purchased and received your new air conditioning unit, it’s time for installation. at this point you need to decide where to install it, start the assembly process and add coolant. these are the next steps.
where to install the unit
Clearly, your central air conditioning unit must be installed outside and then connected to the ductwork in your home. but there are two options when installing your new system. you can pour a concrete pad for placement or you can install the unit on the ceiling.
Wherever you choose to place the system, the location should have adequate airflow, be out of the way so as not to create excess noise but also be accessible for maintenance and allow the unit to be positioned and connected properly.
ensure an energy efficient installation
Even if your home already has existing ductwork to support your new air conditioner, it’s important to verify that the ductwork is properly sealed. After all, cold air leaking through your ducts means less cool air coming into your home, plus higher energy costs since you’re also cooling under the house!
You also don’t want the ducts to sag or bend, as that can affect system performance. Checking the ducts may involve going to the space under your house or even removing the flooring to verify that everything is connected correctly.
safety considerations for a DIY central air installation
If you already have an existing air conditioning unit that you want to replace, there are some unique considerations. First, you need to recover the remaining refrigerant from your old unit. To do this, you must have an EPA refrigerant handling certification or find someone who does to dispose of the old material safely.
Of course, if you buy a new unit that already has refrigerant in it, you may not need to buy more. however, an incorrectly charged unit will require additional refrigerant, which could leave you in a bind just as you are about to install it.
Attempting to remove refrigerant without proper training is dangerous, and we do not recommend that any homeowner attempt this part of an air conditioning installation or removal.
care for your air conditioning unit over time
Over time, your new air conditioning unit will require regular maintenance and even some repairs. you should replace (or clean) your air filters frequently, check your evaporator coil annually (and clean as needed), clean debris from the system, and check for refrigerant leaks.
Other common problems that can arise with air conditioning units include thermostat problems, drainage problems, clogged filters, and low or leaking refrigerant. Dealing with those issues is beyond the scope of this article, but in many cases, hiring a professional can be cost-effective and less stressful, especially if you’re new to hvac yourself.
connect the ac system
Connecting the system involves placing the unit in the proper location and securing it, either to the ground level platform or to a rooftop support arrangement. you may also have to install interior components, depending on the configuration of the air conditioning unit and whether you choose to upgrade the ductwork or thermostat.
You will also need:
- set the correct refrigerant line length
- make sure the drain pipe is the correct length
- connect the electrical lines
- connect thermostat
- remove contaminants from refrigerant lines
- charge new AC unit with refrigerant (if not already charged)
- perform a test to make sure everything is working properly
Although this guide is a bit vague for most DIYers, your new air conditioner unit will come with an installation manual and diagrams showing where and what parts to connect. however, some general knowledge of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning is helpful in ensuring that the installation goes as planned.
after installation: system check
Once the system is installed, you should be able to configure the thermostat and turn it on. both the blower and the compressor must work effectively; this means the air is blowing through the ducts and feels cool enough.
Even if the unit appears to be working properly, common problems such as refrigerant leaks, improper maintenance, and electronic control failures can arise at any time. That’s why we recommend having professional help with your new unit installation, or at least reviewing your handiwork, to ensure a safe, energy-efficient, and long-lasting home air conditioning unit installation.
well, there you have it. now you know how to install central air conditioning yourself. Now pat yourself on the back and get to work!