3 Steps to Planning Your New Central Air System

Posted on: 28 August 2014

If you are relying on open windows and ceiling fans to keep your house cool during the hot summer months, then you should consider installing a central air conditioning system in your home to maximize your comfort. However, central air systems, while efficient and practical, require the assistance and careful planning of an air conditioning contractor. Below are the steps that an air conditioning contractor will need to take before installing a central air system in your home.

Step One: Home Inspection

Before any installation work can begin, an air conditioning contractor will need to evaluate your home to determine how much work will need to go into the installation process. This important step helps to establish a monetary estimate for the install, as a thorough inspection will give the contractor an accurate idea of the amount of work that will need to be done to install the system.

To begin, the contractor will:

  • Inspect your air ducts.
    • Your air ducts may need to be cleaned before any installation can begin.
    • If your home does not already have air ducts installed, then the contractor will add the costs to install proper ducts to the final estimate.
  • Establish locations for the indoor and outdoor features of the system.
    • The condenser and compressor sit outside of the home in an enclosed metal and plastic box.
    • The evaporator will be situated inside of the home, directly above the furnace.
  • Obtain any necessary permits.
    • The contractor will gather and apply for any required permits through your city's department of building and safety.
    • If you decide to sell the house in the future, along with an un-permitted central air system, you will need to pay a hefty fine and have the unit inspected before any sale can take place.

Once the ducts have been inspected, the physical components of the system have been planned, and all relevant permits have been obtained, the contractor can perform the next crucial step.

Step Two: Heat-Gain Calculation

A "heat-gain calculation" determines how powerful your new central air system will need to be to keep your home at a comfortable temperature.

This calculation takes many of your home's features into account, such as:

  • The level of insulation in the home.
    • A poorly insulated home will allow the chilled air from the central air system to pass right through the walls and ceiling of the home.
  • The number of windows and doors.
    • Doors and windows are not able to hold in as much cooled air as the walls and ceiling.
    • Multiple large windows and doors will need to be taken into account in order to achieve maximum efficiency from your central air system.
  • Your home's geographical location and elevation.
    • Homes in hot locations will obviously require more powerful air conditioning systems than homes that are located in colder environments.
    • The air close to sea level is under greater pressure than the air in mountainous areas.
      • This means that a central air system in New Orleans will need to be more powerful than one located in Denver.
  • Your home's orientation to direct sunlight.
    • If your home is subject to direct sunlight for the entirety of the day, then your home will accrue more heat than a home that sees direct sunlight for only a portion of the day.
    • Surrounding trees, hills, buildings, and other homes limit the amount of sunlight your home can absorb in an average day.

Additionally, the number of lighting fixtures, the number of occupants, and square footage of the home will all need to be taken into account in order to arrive at a proper solution. After this step has been completed, an appropriate central air unit can be chosen.

Step Three: Obtaining An Estimate

After the home has been inspected and a heat-gain calculation has been performed, your air conditioning contractor will be able to give you an estimate for the cost of the installation. This estimate will include the costs needed to install the central air system, taking into account all of the factors listed above. Once an estimate has been established, the contractor can begin the extensive installation process. Click here for more info.