Should You Replace Your Home's AC System During A Remodel?

Major remodeling work can be expensive and intense. If you're renovating large portions of your home, your house may be nearly unrecognizable when you finish. Still, many remodeling projects focus more on the parts of your house you can see and less on the functional parts under the surface. Your air conditioning system might be easy to overlook in all the excitement. 

If you're planning a major remodel, ignoring these important parts of your home can have costly consequences. While updating your air conditioning system isn't necessary for any renovation, it may make sense in any of these three scenarios.

1. Your System Is More Than 20 Years Old

Air conditioning systems can have highly variable lifespans that depend on factors such as the system's manufacturer and your maintenance habits. However, most systems won't last much longer than twenty years. Beyond this age, your compressor may begin showing signs of stress, and the cost of keeping the system operating may exceed the potential replacement cost.

Surprisingly, significant renovations can add extra strain to your system by kicking up large amounts of dust that can coat the filter or your ductwork. Ductwork cleaning and filter replacement are necessary after a major renovation, but older systems may struggle in the dustier environment. Since your system is probably already on its last legs, this may be a good excuse to spring for a replacement.

2. You Added Substantial Square Footage

Air conditioning load calculations are highly complex and need to account for far more than the square footage of your home. However, square footage still matters. Adding extra space to your home will increase the heat energy your air conditioning system must remove. As a result, a system that previously worked well may now be severely undersized.

An undersized system will cost more to operate, cool poorly, and fail more often. If you can close off your new addition with a door, one option is to add a secondary air conditioning system or even a mini-split unit. However, upgrading your current air conditioner to a larger unit may be the only choice if your newly renovated space flows directly into the rest of your home.

3. You Greatly Increased Your Home's Energy Efficiency

Is too much cooling power a bad thing? It might be! While the problems with undersized systems may be obvious, oversized systems can also have numerous issues. An air conditioning system with too much power will run in short bursts that won't cool your home consistently and may fail to remove humidity. Short cycling also stresses components, creating potential reliability issues.

While small changes like new windows may not matter, a drastic increase in your home's energy efficiency can make a big difference. For example, adding significant insulation in addition to new doors and windows can alter your cooling needs. At a minimum, consider having an HVAC professional perform a new load calculation to ensure your current system isn't now drastically oversized.

Contact a local residential A/C technician to learn more.