Adding Air Conditioning To A Home With A Furnace: What Are Your Options?
If you're starting to swelter in the summer, it may be time to add air conditioning to your home. Many homes with furnaces were built without air conditioning, as it simply wouldn't be used often enough to justify the expense. However, rising temperatures and an increased emphasis on home comfort have caused many homeowners to begin adding air conditioning. To find out what your options are for adding air conditioning to a home with a furnace, read on.
Central Air System
The good news is that your home already has air ducts. Unfortunately, the air ducts used in furnace heating systems are not designed for cooling. The ducts are smaller, and blower fans in furnaces are usually not as powerful as the ones in central air systems. Warm air is lighter, so the fan doesn't need to be as powerful to push it around your home.
Additionally, ducts designed for heating may not be able to handle condensation. Drops of water that form on your ducts can drip down, leading to mold and mildew growing around your home.
The only way to know if your current ductwork is suitable for cooling is to have an air conditioner installation contractor come to your home and examine them. An HVAC professional can perform a load calculation to determine if your ducts are large enough and your blower fan is powerful enough to support a central air system.
In the best case scenario, you can use your existing ducts. The evaporator coil in the central air unit will be placed near your furnace blower fan. In this case, installing central air will be quite inexpensive.
If you can't use your existing ducts, then you may need to enlarge them or install separate ductwork for cooling. Unfortunately, installing new ducts can be expensive. The price would be similar to installing central air in a home that has no existing forced-air heating system at all. You may wish to consider an alternative form of air conditioning.
Window Air Conditioner
The quickest and least expensive way to add air conditioning to your home is to install a window unit. These are easy for homeowners to install themselves, and they work fairly well at cooling down a small space. Installing one in your bedroom can help you sleep at night when temperatures are high.
Unfortunately, they're noisy. This presents an issue when one is installed in your bedroom. In addition, they're inefficient when compared to a central air system. Finally, you may not even be able to install one if the layout of your home doesn't support it.
Ductless Air Conditioning
If your heating ducts won't support cooling, installing a ductless system is a good alternative. Ductless systems consist of outdoor compressor units and indoor air handlers that are mounted on the wall. The compressors and the air handlers are connected by small conduits that run throughout your wall cavities. The air handler receives refrigerant through its conduit and uses it to cool your home, and then the refrigerant is sent back to the outdoor compressor unit along with the condensate the air handler generates.
Due to the fact that a ductless air conditioning system uses small conduits rather than air ducts, installation costs are lower than installing an entire central air system. You don't have to go through the trouble of finding space for bulky air ducts or opening up large sections of drywall in order to install them.
Overall, your first step should be calling an air conditioner installation contractor. They'll be able to determine whether or not your current air ducts will support central air. If they can, then installing a central air system will be quick and inexpensive. Otherwise, a ductless air conditioning system will likely be preferable.
If you have questions about installing an air conditioning system, contact a local contractor and check out the site they have.