Air Conditioner Replacement Cheat Sheet
Your air conditioner works hard to keep your Plant City home cool during the hot, humid summer months, but if you’ve noticed it hasn’t been performing as well as it should, it may be time for an air conditioner replacement. It’s important to do your research before you buy to ensure the highest level of efficiency, comfort and reliability in your new system.
All or Nothing
A split system air conditioner has an indoor and outdoor component, each designed to work in tandem and each with a matching SEER rating and the same type of refrigerant. While it may be tempting to replace only the ailing half of the unit, the end result can be disastrous, with a marked decrease in efficiency and performance. If your original A/C is over 10 years old, finding a match may be a Herculean task, as minimum efficiency ratings have changed, along with refrigerant requirements. The R-22 refrigerant used in older A/C units is currently being phased out, and replaced with R-410A. Using this new refrigerant in older equipment can cause a decrease in efficiency and potential equipment failure.
Maximize your investment with an air conditioner replacement with a high seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER). Older models may have a SEER of 6 or less, but the minimum requirement on new equipment is 13, with the current maximum at 23. This number is akin to an efficiency rating, where a higher number is better, showing the system uses less energy to cool your home, saving you money on energy costs and reducing your impact on the environment.
In addition to a high SEER rating other desirable air conditioner replacement features include:
- Quiet operation
- A warning light to signal a filter check after a set amount of run time
- An auto delay fan switch to allow the fan to run for a few minutes after the compressor has stopped
- A fan-only switch to save energy while increasing airflow overnight
- An energy efficiency rating (EER) greater than 11.6 and a thermal expansion valve
- A variable-speed air handler
Proper sizing of your air conditioner replacement is crucial, as bigger isn’t always better. The size of your equipment should be determined by a detailed Manual J load calculation, which takes in to account factors such as:
- The size of your home
- Your heating and cooling preferences
- The number and ages of the occupants
- The orientation of your home to the sun
- The efficiency of doors and windows
- Insulation levels in the walls and attic
- Seasonal climate
- Air leakage in your home’s envelope and ductwork
A cooling system that’s undersized will struggle to keep your home cool, driving up energy costs and causing premature wear on its parts. An oversized unit may frequently cycle on and off, leaving little time to dehumidify the air and lowering indoor air quality in addition to the added cost of energy.
A poor quality installation can cause issues with performance, comfort and efficiency. Choose an experienced contractor who will adhere to the following guidelines:
- Determine the adequacy of the existing ductwork in relation to the new equipment, making any necessary changes using a Manual D calculation.
- Install any new ductwork within the conditioned space of the home, avoiding the attic if possible.
- Situate the outdoor condensing unit where it won’t disturb the sleep of you or your neighbors.
- Install the thermostat away from potential heat sources like a window or supply vent.
- Make certain there’s an adequate number of supply and return registers in the home to regulate airflow.
- Seal new and existing ductwork with duct mastic, and insulate any ducts in unconditioned spaces.
- Ensure there are no obstructions around the condensing unit that could hamper airflow.
- Install the indoor unit with sufficient space around it for ease of maintenance and repair.
- Provide an opening for easy access to clean the evaporator coil.
For help with the selection, installation, service or repair of your new air conditioner replacement, give us a call at Gulf Coast Air Systems. We proudly serve the home comfort needs of homeowners in Lutz, Wesley Chapel and the surrounding areas.