There are many reasons why a central air conditioning (AC) system is not performing to your standards. In some cases, simple maintenance or repairs will solve the problem. In other cases, a new AC system is necessary if you want your home to stay comfortable and cool in hot weather. Here are three kinds of AC systems that should be replaced.
1. An AC System That Operates With Outdated Refrigerant
There are many types of safe and approved refrigerants on the market for use in home air conditioning units. These refrigerants include:
- HFC-32 (for self-contained room AC)
- R-290 (Propane)
One of the most common AC refrigerants is slowly being phased out of use. The refrigerant named hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC)-22 (also called R-22) is no longer an approved product for use in new AC systems. In fact, the manufacture and installation of new air conditioners using R-22 is forbidden. That's because R-22 voraciously depletes the ozone layer of our atmosphere.
You can still have your AC service tech add R-22 refrigerant to a central AC system that cools air with the product. However, supplies of R-22 are dwindling, and the refrigerant will one day no longer be available. It's better to switch your system now to a modern AC.
If you have an existing R-22 system, you are allowed to have it replaced with an R-22 unit. Be aware that only older model AC systems are available, as the R-22-dependent systems cannot be manufactured anymore. Older-made R-22-dependent unit — even though technically new — may not meet today's energy standards.
2. A System With Incorrectly Installed Components
There are many ways an AC system can be improperly installed. The condensing unit may be located in an area that blocks airflow and makes the entire unit ineffective. The compressor may be situated where its loud operation interrupts family activities or sleep.
A thermostat may be located in the wrong area of the home. For example, it may be exposed to heat from cooking or intense sunlight. This causes the thermostat to cycle the AC more often than is needed to actually cool the space.
Ductwork is another area where improper installation can affect how well your AC unit works. To deliver cooled air to your home's rooms, ductwork must be the proper size and configuration. If the ductwork is too narrow or wide, it will hinder adequate airflow. Extra-long runs of ductwork (over 25 feet) should be sized the next step up from adjacent ductwork.
Room ducts may be situated under furnishings that block airflow into spaces. Ducts may be located next to drafty doors, or there may be too few ducts installed for the size of the room.
Your AC service company checks airflow, suction, and orientation of AC components when repairing or replacing your AC system. If your system is installed incorrectly, your AC expert will advise you on the options for a new system that meets your needs.
3. AC Units With the Wrong Cooling Capacity for the Home
One figure used to rate AC units is the British thermal unit (BTU), which tells you how powerful the unit is. For air conditioning units, 12,000 BTUs is the equivalent of one ton of cooling capacity.
A commonly respected rule of thumb is to order a central AC unit that offers one ton of cooling capacity for every 500 to 600 square feet of living space. This ratio will get you in the ballpark of ranges for a suitable AC unit. However, other factors determine the optimum size of unit for your home.
Some factors that affect AC-unit efficiency include:
- Vaulted or short ceilings
- Overly sunny or shady rooms
- Relative humidity
- Number of people using rooms
Some homeowners mistakenly believe they should be ready for anything with the largest capacity AC unit available. But air conditioning doesn't work like that. It's true that a too-small system will never cool properly and will wear out sooner because it must run constantly on the hottest days.
It's also true that a too-large AC system will over-cool rooms without properly removing humidity. Too-big units blast rooms with chilled air and cut off after a short time. Not enough conditioned air is pushed through your home, even if the temperature is lowered temporarily. Over-sized units will also cycle more frequently, which can shorten the lifespan of the AC components.
If you have a large home, an oddly-shaped home, or household members who disagree on what qualifies as a healthy room temperature, a zonal system may be the best option for your home. With a zonal system, you can keep some rooms much cooler than others, so each person has the study, work, play, and sleep temperature they prefer.
Contact Comfort Solutions to schedule reliable, professional replacement of your outdated AC system before the hot weather arrives. We upgrade air conditioning systems to keep homeowners comfortably cool throughout the Ogden and Sandy, Utah, regions.