Here’s an overview of the AC installation process to help you understand why it’s important to plan for replacing your air conditioning system. The longer you keep your old AC going, the more you’ll spend on repairs. It’s also more likely to break down unexpectedly, making it difficult and stressful to find the right unit for your home. Here’s a comprehensive look at AC installation with steps the professionals at Over the Moon follow every time.
Evaluation of Your Old System
An AC contractor will first inspect and test your old system to verify it must be replaced. If the system is in relatively good health and needs a minor fix, such as a new belt or an electrical component, it may be repaired. But if it’s near the end of its life, needs costly repairs, or is running inefficiently, the technician will suggest replacing it and schedule an in-home assessment and estimate. They’ll need to determine the type of system to install before proceeding.
Determining the Needs of Your Home
The square footage of your property, its angle in relation to sunlight, the size and placement of windows and doors, ceiling height, and the number of people living in your household are just some factors to consider. Your local AC installer will include these and others in a Manual J load calculation. When deciding on the best unit for your home, they’ll consider the following:
- Sizing and Selection: An air conditioner must have just the right capacity to maintain comfort and run efficiently. A unit that is too small will run constantly and not cool your home enough, while a unit that is too large won’t run long enough and will cycle too frequently. Both scenarios will increase energy consumption and strain the system. By selecting the best-sized unit for your home (in tonnage and British Thermal Units (BTUs), you can have a more energy-efficient, longer-lasting system that requires fewer repairs.
- Physical Size: The dimensions (length, width, and height) of modern air conditioners are larger than those in the past. That’s because a larger coil allows for improved efficiency. It also means the current location of your existing unit may not suit the new one. Relocating an air conditioner can be a complex part of AC installation but may be necessary based on regulations (and require ductwork modifications). It can add significant costs to the project.
- Matching Components: Every part of your AC system, including the compressor condenser coil, evaporator coil, blower, ductwork, and thermostat, must be compatible. Otherwise, the system won’t run efficiently, may need frequent repairs, or have to be replaced prematurely. Evaluating ducts for leaks and other issues is a significant step. Without duct repairs or replacement, even the most efficient system won’t run properly.
Removing the Existing System
A recovery machine and tank will be used to extract refrigerant from the old unit. Venting refrigerant into the air is illegal; a technician must also be EPA-certified to handle refrigerant or any equipment that contains it. Licensed technicians then safely disconnect and remove refrigerant pipes. Next, they disconnect the wiring (including the whip or conduit that delivers power to the system). If the old system lacks a disconnect box, one will be installed per safety codes.
Once the outside unit is removed, the pad for the old one will be replaced. A composite pad is often used as it lasts longer than concrete and is less likely to crack. Composite materials also absorb a unit’s vibrations more effectively, reducing noise.
The indoor evaporator coil, which sits above or below the furnace in a central AC system, is removed. Once the refrigerant lines are disconnected from it, the coil can be disconnected. The process requires disconnecting the sheet metal plenum, whether you have a cased or uncased coil. If the coil is hard to access, it’ll be more difficult to work with; therefore, the contractor may charge more for this step or increase their labor rate.
Installing the New Air Conditioning System
The AC installation team will follow an established set of procedures. Once a system and the location to install it have been selected, an installation date and timeline will be set. Here’s a look at what typically happens next:
- Installing the Indoor Evaporator Coil: In most instances, a cased coil will be installed. It has an insulated cabinet for efficiency and removable panels to simplify repairs and modifications. The coil is attached directly to the metal plenum.
- Setting Up the Outside Unit: The condenser unit is unpacked and set down on the outdoor pad. It will be inspected. If there’s no damage, the team will continue the setup process.
- Installing the Refrigerant Lines: The copper line set, which consists of liquid and suction lines, is installed. The pipes are secured every four to six feet as they’re run between the units and brazed or welded to seal them to each end of the system. The lines are vacuumed before refrigerant is added.
- Installing High- and Low-Voltage Wiring: A service disconnect box will be mounted to an outside wall; it allows power to be cut from the unit automatically if there’s a problem. The box is wired to the main electrical panel and low-voltage wires are connected to the thermostat so you can control the system.
- Setting Up the Condensate Drain Line: The drain pan, condensation pump, and PVC pipe that allow condensed moisture to drain are installed at the evaporator coil.
- Testing the New System: Once it’s installed, the system is tested. The technicians will turn the unit on for about 20 minutes to allow the refrigerant to flow and the system to start cooling your home. A final inspection and some measurements are taken to ensure the system runs properly. This ensures your peace of mind and also complies with the terms of the warranty.
Once the project is complete, the HVAC installer will explain how to operate and maintain the system. They’ll cover important tasks, such as changing the filter, to complete in between maintenance visits. In addition, they may schedule your first AC inspection and tune-up or recommend when to set one up. They’ll also answer any questions about the system you have.
Schedule AC Installation with Over the Moon
We install split, packaged, and ductless mini-split systems in homes across Waukesha County, WI. Our AC installation professionals consider all your household’s needs to determine the type, size, and configuration of the system to install. In addition to high-quality installation, we also provide AC repair, replacement, and maintenance. To schedule service, set up your appointment online or call (262) 240-6519.