Is Your Existing Ductwork Suitable For Installing Central Air Conditioning?

Posted on: 26 July 2016

You've been toughing it out in the warm temperatures for long enough, and you've decided it's time to have a home central air conditioner installed. While the cost of installing a central air system into a home that doesn't have a cooling system can be expensive, having it in place adds about 12 percent to your home's value. This can be key if you plan to sell your house within a few years -- and in the meantime, you'll be staying cool.

One factor that can bring down the cost of installing a whole-home cooling system is if you can piggyback on your existing heating system's ductwork. However, it's not always possible to use the ductwork you have without at least making some modifications. Here are four questions to ask about whether you can use parts of the heating system you have for a home central air conditioning system.

  1. Are your ducts large enough? Older homes tend to have larger ducts, which actually work better for use with cooled air. Heat ducts in newer homes tend to be smaller, and may not be suitable for transporting the larger amounts of cooled air that come from an air conditioning system.
  2. Is your furnace blower powerful enough? Blowers that do a fine job distributing heat around your home may not be strong enough to circulate the larger volume of cooled air produced. If air doesn't move through the air conditioner's coils properly, they could freeze. You may need to upgrade.
  3. Are the ducts efficient? Leaks and improper seals can cause you to lose a lot of the cooled air you're paying for. You'll need an HVAC pro to check this, because if the system is not balanced correctly, you could get pockets of warm air. Cleaning the ducts properly can also help them be more efficient. 
  4. Are your supply registers sufficient? If you're producing the cooled air, but it's slow to get into the rooms that you want cooled, you'll wait for a long time to feel comfortable. Older-style grills can resist proper airflow completely, leaving you frustrated with your new purchase. 

If the answer to any of these questions is negative, you're likely going to need to modify the system you have in order to have it function properly for air conditioning. This can add to the overall cost, but is necessary if you want to have an efficient system -- otherwise, your energy bills may reflect the issues. Talk to your HVAC professional about whether your existing heating ducts will work to support your cooling needs.

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