If you’re handy with mechanical projects, have a solid understanding of plumbing, electrical and ductwork and have a good selection of tools at your disposal, DYI air conditioning installation may be a project you can do yourself. While you can save hundreds of dollars by opting to do it yourself, you should be aware of the down sides of a DIY job of this caliber:
- Incorrect installation can considerably reduce the efficiency and safety of your system.
- There will be no labor warranty to fall back on in the event your system fails, and the product warranty may be void if you install it yourself.
- You may encounter problems during installation that you’re not comfortable trying to solve, or for which you don’t have the proper tools .
Air conditioning installation is fairly straightforward for the handy homeowner, and with the help of instructional materials, you should be able to perform up to 90 percent of the installation yourself. The remaining ten percent of the install, which involves charging the system with refrigerant, must be done by a qualified HVAC professional due to Federal regulations regarding handling this potentially dangerous chemical.
Before beginning your air conditioning installation, read through the instructions thoroughly and make sure you understand every step of the process. Gather the required tools and make sure you have a clear plan of action before you proceed. These tips will help you prepare for and perform your air conditioning installation:
Outdoor condensing unit
- Install the outdoor condensing unit in a shaded area to lower your cooling costs.
- Consider the noise the condensing unit makes and locate it where it won’t disturb your neighbors at night.
- Maintain at least two feet of unobstructed space around the unit.
Ductwork and registers
- If you’re installing new ductwork, keep as much of it as possible in conditioned spaces rather than in attics and crawl spaces. Insulate ducts that must be placed in unconditioned areas.
- Use the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) Manual D to properly size your ducts.
- Use mastic duct sealant to seal your ducts.
- Make sure you have adequate return and supply registers for optimum air flow.
- Allow plenty of room for the indoor unit to ensure easy accessibility for service and maintenance.
- Locate your thermostat in a central location on an interior wall, away from any heat sources.
During your install, don’t be afraid to contact a qualified HVAC professional if you need help. Having your unit inspected when you’re finished is always a good idea to ensure your system is properly installed.