Once I purchased my first home, I realized that I needed to do my part in caring for my home appliances. In addition to reading the user manuals for my kitchen appliances and state-of-the-art plumbing system, I realized that I also needed to do a little research about HVAC. Because I had no experience with HVAC systems, I called out a professional to teach me a thing or two. It was fascinating to talk with him, and I was able to take notes about all kinds of important topics, such as maintenance, troubleshooting, and even shopping for a new system. This blog is all about understanding HVAC guidelines.
Have you recently built a home addition and are looking for affordable and efficient ways to cool the space? You can either install a new air conditioner or use your existing central air conditioning system. Expanding the current unit to accommodate an addition may seem like the most affordable option, but it can lead to system inefficiencies in the long run. Therefore, consider the following factors before using your central AC to cool a structural addition.
Air Conditioner's Cooling Capacity
Residential air conditioning systems are sized depending on the cooling needs at the time of purchase. Therefore, if your existing system can only accommodate the current load, using it to cool the addition will cause energy inefficiencies. The AC may work too hard to manage the extra load, which can lead to frequent breakdowns. Conversely, if the current system has a higher capacity than the cooling load, it can cool the rooms in the new structure.
Age and Condition of the System
Besides assessing the AC's capacity, you should also check its age and condition. Newer units with a higher cooling capacity can easily handle the extra load from an addition. However, if your unit is old, do not use it in the new space. Older air conditioners may already be energy-inefficient due to age-related wear and tear. Therefore, the system may already be struggling to cool your home. Increasing the cooling load can accelerate wear and tear and cause premature damage.
Type of Air Conditioning System
Your existing air conditioner can limit usability in a home addition. If you have a ducted central AC, you can extend the ductwork into the extension and use the system to cool the space. However, installing ductwork can be costly, especially if you have already plastered and finished the new structure. Conversely, if you have a multi-zone split system, you can easily use it to cool the addition. All you need to do is buy a compatible air handler and connect it to the outdoor unit.
Individual Space Elements
Various elements of your new structural addition can affect your air conditioning options. For example, factors such as the square footage, quality of insulation, and type of windows determine the cooling load of the addition. An uninsulated space will overwork your existing AC due to heat gain through the windows, walls, and roof. Similarly, if the structure has multiple rooms, you may be unable to extend the existing air conditioner to all the rooms. In this case, installing a new air conditioner is the best option.
Consider the above factors before extending your existing AC to accommodate a structural addition. If you are unable to use your current unit, don't worry. There are numerous affordable AC systems on the market to suit both small and large spaces. Consult an HVAC contractor for professional assistance.