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Your AC Replacement Cost: Expected & Unexpected Factors

Replacing your air conditioner is a job for a professional HVAC company because it involves plenty of technical and electrical know-how. Professionals discourage trying to DIY this kind of job because there’s also plenty of room to make mistakes, which may be costly and can often be dangerous.

Factors to Expect

Before replacing your air conditioner, it’s important to understand a few of the factors that may affect your decision-making process. The cost of your AC replacement will be impacted by certain considerations.

Square Footage. HVAC companies will typically send a technician to your home to take some measurements. Not all AC units can cool the same square footage: more powerful units are installed in bigger homes, for example. The cost of the units gets higher as they get more powerful. If the unit is the right size, however, it will be more energy-efficient. If you install a less-powerful  AC in a room that requires more power to cool, your AC will then use more power to cool the room, though it will probably be ineffective. This usually leads to higher energy expenses and a shortened AC service life.

Repairs to Non-AC Related Parts of Your Home. Some considerations don’t involve your AC unit at all. They’re the parts of your home that can make your AC less efficient because hot air is able to access the room. Your contractor may recommend adding insulation to some parts of your home, such as the crawl space or the attic. If your windows and doors have air leaks, resealing them can solve this problem.

AC Energy Efficiency. The AC unit you buy will affect your cooling costs. SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) ratings can give you an ideea of which AC units are more energy-efficient. A SEER ratio is your AC’s cooling output over a typical cooling season divided by the amount of energy it utilizes in watt-hours.

Professional providers of air conditioning and refrigeration equipment services recommend choosing an AC unit with a minimum standard SEER rating of 13. It’s not difficult to find a unit with this rating, as most modern air conditioners are rated between 13 and 21.

Labor. Factors that impact labor costs include the scope of the installation project, the size of the crew working on the project and their experience in the field. Many home and business owners are tempted to hire the lowest-priced contractor, but this isn’t always a good idea. If you want a successful project, don’t hire based on price alone. As in many things, you get what you pay for with the installation of your cooling system. Quality is a lot more important in the long term.

What you should do is talk to your contractor about your budget so they can give you a good quote based on that and your cooling needs.

Permits. Another factor that adds to the cost of air conditioning and refrigeration equipment services is the process of securing permits. This depends largely on your location. though in some regions, there’s a flat rate for permits involved in AC replacement. In others, the rates vary depending on the value and size of your home or building. Whatever region you live in, be sure to talk to your contractor about securing the proper permits. They should be able to do this for you, but you’ll still be expected to shoulder the cost.

Factors You Might Not Expect

Just as there are factors you can usually expect to affect the cost of your air conditioning replacement, there are also those that you might not be able to detect or determine immediately.

Damaged Ductwork. To deliver cooled air to the rooms in your home, your air conditioning system uses ducts typically suspended and mostly hidden. Ductwork is made using different materials, some if which are sturdy and some that are delicate. Ducts can be tangled, ripped or damaged in other ways, as well. One of the most common reasons behind reduced cooling effectiveness is damage to the ducts. If you notice this, call your AC repair contractor.

Damaged Wall Studs. Wall studs are often to blame for heat bridging; that is, they’re usually the areas where heat enters a home and makes indoor cooling less effective, causing spikes in the home’s energy use. Wall studs are susceptible to rot. This is usually the case in moisture-prone areas, such as basements. You can’t observe this without removing drywall. Call a contractor to find problem areas in your wall studs.

Drywall Cuts. Drywall is often cut to make room for air conditioning ductwork. However, if the drywall was cut for an older unit and you upgrade your air conditioning, the shape of the new ducts might not fit the old cuts in the drywall. Your contractor may have to repair the previous cuts to make sure your new air conditioner fits perfectly. Of course, your contractor will add this to the cost of labor.

Old Electrical Panels. If you live in an old house, it’s best to have the electrical panels upgraded before replacing your AC with a modern unit, especially if you’re planning to buy a more powerful unit to cool the house more effectively. Outdated electrical panels might not be able to handle the power demands of a new AC.

In addition to maxing out the capacity of your electrical panel each time the new air conditioner runs, the new AC can also cause a short circuit. This will lead to extra expenses, as you have to upgrade the electrical panel and replace whatever is damaged, possibly including appliances.

An electrical problem like this can also start a fire and endanger your entire household, thus it’s best to get your electrical panel tested and upgraded if needed.

Tips for Saving on the Cost of AC Replacement

There are ways to save money when having your new AC installed. Here are some tips.

Wait for fall or spring. Summer and winter are usually peak seasons for HVAC companies. Even the demand for HVAC filter products goes up at these times. However, if you wait for fall or spring, when HVAC companies aren’t as busy, you might enjoy an off-season discount for your AC installation.

Increase your budget. This might sound counterintuitive, but adding up to 20 percent of the total amount of your budget as contingency can work to your advantage. Even if a problem is spotted and you have to pay for it, you have a buffer so you won’t have to worry as much.

Talk to your contractor. Your contractor does this for a living, but they also understand the challenges homeowners face when replacing something as expensive as an air conditioner. If you’re transparent about how much you can truly afford, they might be able to find a good deal that doesn’t break the bank but is still effective at addressing your cooling needs. Reputable contractors put a high premium on customer satisfaction, so there’s no reason your contractor won’t try to help with your budget concerns.

If you need an AC replacement or have concerns regarding HVAC filter products, don’t hesitate to call Cafco Services. We always strive to help our customers with their cooling and heating needs, even when they have questions about what would work for their budget. Call us today at (513) 242-3400 or use our contact form. We’ll give you a call to set up an appointment so we can discuss how we can work with you.