Central Air Conditioner Installation Guide

Central Air Conditioner Installation Guide

As we are all well aware of the fact that a central air conditioner tends to cool air in one location, and after that uses the air handling capabilities of the furnace in order to provide that cool air throughout the entire home. This would distinguish it from window or wall air conditioners or all other mini-split systems, all of which cool relatively small areas and rely on multiple units to cool the entire house. In this article, we are sharing step by step guide for Central Air Conditioner Installation.

In the U.S., most single-family homes that have central air have a split system. This basically means the unit is split into two key components, an evaporator coil inside the home and a compressor outside. Well, heat pumps are another form of central air conditioning unit. But here we will be focusing on projects that connect central air to the furnace.

Central Air Conditioner

Are you wondering how your central air installation works? We will explain key phases, what is actually involved at each step, and the best practices for working with a pro.

Almost all of the homes that are built in recent times have air conditioning of some sort. Whether you are considering a central air conditioner for a new build, replacing an existing unit, or retrofitting the existing home for the first time here is some background and insight to help you understand the process of central air conditioner installation.

Types of Central Air Conditioners

Split systems

This is considered the most popular type of central air conditioning system. It is called ‘split’ because it uses indoor and outdoor components. Also inside is the air handler, which would hold the blower and evaporator coil. And outside is what most people think of as the ‘air conditioner:’ a metal cabinet that would hold the condenser coil and compressor right in their places. Refrigerant lines basically connect the whole system. In case you use a furnace for central heating, you are likely to have this sort of cooling system as well.

Heat pump

Keep in mind that heat pumps are also the other type of split system. Rather than having a furnace and air conditioner, the heat pump helps in supplying cooling in the summer as well as heating in the winter. It does also have an air handler indoors, and the heat pump cabinet sits outdoors. Heat pumps can be air sources as well as geothermal depending upon the situation and requirement. Air source heat pumps extract heat from or release heat into the outdoor air, it depends on heating or cooling needs. Geothermal, also called ground source, heat pumps pull heat from or deposit heat into the earth in order to supply heating or cooling.

Packaged air conditioners

Packaged air conditioners usually combine electric air conditioning and a heat pump as well as heating plus cooling equipment. These units tend to sit on the rooftop or just outside your homes or any commercial building. They are many times chosen for commercial applications for their installation flexibility and small footprint.

Ductless mini-split:

Well, ductless systems are considered one of the great choices for cooling a home or business without ductwork. For all the other systems that require ductwork to distribute cool air, a ductless system does not require it at all. Ductless mini-split systems also have an outdoor air conditioner or heat pump that is connected to air handling units that are placed in one or more rooms of the home or building. Control cooling is delivered to each room or area separate from the other air handlers, offering greater control over energy use and temperature.

Central Air conditioner Installation

Depending on the type of central air conditioner, these are a few factors that you should consider while Central Air conditioner Installation

New duct systems:

In case your home or business does not already have ductwork, you can always choose a ductless air conditioner. In case you want to go with another type of central air conditioner, you will then have a duct system properly installed to get the maximum benefit out of it, but remember that this comes with extra cost and space considerations.

Duct system repairs:

In case your home or business has a duct system and you also want to install a ducted central air conditioner, then the existing ducts may require many repairs or alterations in order to support the new system. Any sort of air leak would help in reducing air conditioner efficiency that also up to 30 percent, leading to energy loss and poor temperature control. Any of your duct systems may require duct sealing to support the new air conditioner. Further duct runs may need to be tied into your existing system so that it can facilitate your new central air conditioner installation.

Indoor air quality:

Central air conditioners help in providing a certain level of dehumidification but remember that it may not be enough for your climate or indoor environment. So, installing a whole-home dehumidifier in order to work with your air conditioner may be the only and the best option for indoor air quality treatment in your home or business. If indoor contamination is the only issue that you face, a whole-home air purifier may be an add-on you want when installing a cooling system.

Central Air Conditioner Installation Process

Well on the exact day of your central air conditioner installation, you may expect a process that is somehow similar to what is listed down below. There are high chances that the actual steps may differ among different contractors.

In case your local government requires authorization for the HVAC work, your contractor will obtain the permit as well as they would inform you that you need to take care of it. In most cases, your contractor will do this for you.

  • Your contractor will, first of all, remove the existing air conditioner that is installed.
  • The contractor will then install new duct systems and also will perform duct repairs.
  • For the preparation of the installation site, it may involve setting a concrete pad outside in order to support the air conditioner or even installing rooftop supports for a packaged system installation.
  • Your new outdoor unit will have to be positioned correctly. your contractor will install it and also secure it to the site.
  • In case you are also replacing your air handler, you will have to install the indoor unit. It would be a wise idea to replace both indoor and outdoor units at the same time, also in some cases, you may have to choose not to replace the air handler when you have a new outdoor unit installed.
  • For the purpose of connecting the indoor and outdoor units. Your contractor will determine the proper size for refrigerant lines, drain piping, and electrical lines. Some of these components link the parts of the split system.
  • For the purpose of connecting the thermostat to the central air conditioner, you will have a new thermostat installed or you can also continue to use your existing unit.
  • The vacuum will be pulled to remove contaminants from the refrigerant lines and charge the new central air conditioner with refrigerant.
  • Your new air conditioner system will start and run.
  • Your contractor will then perform an installation inspection in order to make sure that the installation was done correctly, and the system runs properly.

Cost of Central Air Conditioner Installation

There are chances that your contractor may negotiate a lower rate for your AC unit that is based on their brand and manufacturer relationships, you will still have to pay labor costs for the unit’s installation. You may also have to finance the pre-installation work, which may include pouring a concrete slab or making any sort of changes in order to fit the new assembly on your roof. However, the professional installer will handle the details of their job.

On an estimate when added to an existing forced-air heating system, the central air conditioner installation cost for a 2,000-square-foot home is $3,500 to $4,000 and can be done by two technicians in two to three days, often with little or no change to the ducting.

Central Air Installation Cost Calculator

As said earlier that your central air conditioner installation cost between $3,200 and $7,800 for replacement or for a new AC unit installation with the AC unit alone costing from $1,200 to $3000 based on your home’s specifications and requirements.

While considering a central air conditioner installation or repair there are certain things that you should know in order to estimate the cost of an HVAC installation project and those aspects are. 

  • Size of your home
  • Square footage of rooms needing to be cooled
  • Central AC system brand
  • Energy-efficient level (SEER)
  • Potential ductwork installation or replacement
  • Average local costs for hiring a contractor in your area

DIY Central Air Conditioner Installation

We should always keep in mind that some projects should always be tackled by professionals or DIYers with some extensive previous experience as well. Central air conditioning installation would involve too many specialized skills as well as too high a risk of failure in order to attempt them without any sort of professional help. This is all due to the skills that are definitely required as well as licensing requirements and the potential voiding of warranties if you install the components incorrectly in any way.

If you have already decided on DIY, you can do most of the work by yourself but handling the refrigerant will always require a licensed professional and in some locations, only a licensed electrician can connect the electrical to the service panel do not try to perform that by yourself.

How to Install Central Air Conditioning Yourself

If you have already decided to go on with a DIY project and are now thinking about how to install air conditioning yourself, we have got you covered.

The following steps would help you with how to do central air conditioner installation all by yourself.

Find a central air conditioning unit

The very first step for central air conditioner installation is to find an air conditioning unit. The most accessible way in order to achieve this would be to look online if you can. In that way, you will be able to research different brands and you could compare costs among all these brands. Always keep in mind that this is not the most cost-effective option when it comes to actually purchasing, any item due to all these expensive shipping costs. The other thing you must consider would be that delivery people never assist with the unloading of the unit which may be a problem if there aren’t people there to help you.

In that case, if you buy in person, you must head to your local cooling and heating stores. In that way, they will be able to provide you with advice and help you in order to purchase the unit that you really need. Hardware and home improvement stores are also likely to have AC units or at least recommend retailers where you can get one. For all those of you who are thinking about buying a second-hand unit, you must always check that it is in good working order. It may save you money initially, but in case it is not energy efficient or will need repairs soon, you will eventually end up spending more in the end.

Select the location to install the unit

As we know that any AC unit can be installed outside on the ground in a proper and decided location, or even on the roof. Any of the chosen locations should have good airflow, be easily accessible for repair and all of the general maintenance, and be far enough away from social areas so that nobody gets disturbed by the noise that it produces. In case you decide to put it on the ground, a concrete slab will need to be laid first.

Check the ductwork

It is very important for you to assess the quality of your ducts even before you start installing a new central Air Conditioner system. These ducts should have no gaps or cracks that will allow air to escape in any way. Because this will impact the quality of air and increase the cost of your cooling as your system will be working harder. Any sort of sagging ducts can also help in preventing the entire system from working appropriately. 

Consider safety aspects

This is the very important step that you will have to pay particular attention to in case you are learning how to install central air-conditioning as a do-it-yourself project. For all old AC systems containing refrigerant, you will need a certification or somebody who has one to remove this substance. This part has significant risk and it is recommended that you ask for professional help for this aspect of your DIY project.

Connect the AC system

After you get done with the previous steps, it is now time to connect your AC system. You will have to secure the unit in your chosen location and install all indoor parts if needed. After that, you will have to measure out your refrigerant line and drain piping, even before connecting the thermostat and electrical lines. You will have to finish by eliminating contaminants in refrigerant lines. 

All of these units come with an installation guide that will provide more detailed instructions on how to install your air conditioning unit. We would recommend you to read these instructions properly so that you understand exactly what to do. If you are ever unsure of a step, you can always contact professionals for any sort of help.

Check the AC system

After everything is installed properly, you will need to check whether it is working properly. Always try to make sure that the thermostat and compressor are both operating correctly. Air should be flowing freely through the ducts and you should be able to feel the cool air. Also, the unit product guide should provide more detailed instructions on how to check that your system is working properly. You should always follow these instructions and seek advice from the experts in case you are not sure or have any questions.

Maintain the AC system

Even after everything is up and running, still your job is not complete. A central Air conditioner would need to be regularly checked in order to assess that it is working in a proper way. Regular checks will always help you to detect a problem even before it becomes a major issue. It would also help you to keep your bills low as you will not allow a faulty system to keep running. Common central air conditioner problems would include leaks of refrigerant and electrical faults, so keep this in mind when you are doing your regular checks. The better you maintain your AC system, the more effective it will be.

Common FAQs about Central Air Conditioner Installation

How much is it to install a central air conditioner?

The price to install a central air unit starts at just under $3,000 and can go as high as $15,000. The exact figures vary quite a bit based on the unit you are having installed and where you live, among other factors.

How do I install a central air conditioner thermostat?

Installing a new central air conditioner thermostat involves disconnecting the old unit, turning off the power to your heating and cooling system, mounting the wall plate for the new system, and making sure that all wires are connected correctly. In some cases, you’ll also need to install batteries. Because manufacturer directions are often unclear, it is recommended that buyers contact a licensed HVAC professional to ensure proper installation

How do you install a central air conditioner in a home with central heat?

While it is possible to add a central air conditioner to your home with an existing central heat system, the price and the time required may make it more than a DIY task. Instead, it’s recommended that you reach out to a certified HVAC professional who will be able to properly assess your system and install your central air unit correctly.

Is Central AC hard to install?

Installing a central AC system is hard work. You’ll probably be required to do a lot of manual labour, including lifting heavy equipment, pouring a concrete foundation and even getting under the house. If this is not your idea of fun, you can pass this work over to the professionals HVAC experts.

How long does a central AC install take?

Generally speaking, the average installation will take anywhere from four to eight hours, which means the process of removing the old unit and being able to turn on the new one should be finished within a day

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