When it comes to installing a new air conditioner, leave it for the pros. The reason why do-it-yourselfers have such a hard time with AC installation is due to the steep learning curve involved. HVAC requires installers to digest a lot of nuanced technical information, and HVAC skills can only be developed with patience to gain wisdom. It’s just not the type of job that anyone can tackle with a few beers and some friends from the gym. So, avoid DIY AC installation on the go.
Reasons Why you should avoid DIY AC installation
In addition to the steep learning curve, an AC unit is an expensive investment. You don’t want to damage it because the warranty will only cover manufacturing defects. It is easy for someone who is not experienced to mess up some small aspect of the installation that causes significant problems after hours, days, weeks, or months of operation. Even HVAC maintenance specialists that are new in town and just passed a course find AC installation hard to master.
Further, you must have a complete DIY tools set at home for smoother and proper installation.
Common Mistakes DIY’ers will commit while installing Air Conditioners
#1 Mounting the AC Unit in Bad Location
Mounting a new air conditioner in the right area is crucial. Proper AC installation usually requires finding a spot that allows for ample clean air, well-regulated temperatures, and a lack of obstructions.
While you may want to hide your AC unit behind shrubs or bushes, these can obstruct airflow. It needs to suck in a high volume of fresh air and is forced to work harder when there are any airflow obstructions in the area. The AC unit will perform most efficiently if mounted in an open, shady spot.
It also must be completely level. Usually, level ground requires a contractor to pour a concrete block that is large and stable enough to mount the AC unit. If you fail to install your unit on an unleveled surface, then it will take a heavy toll on the internal bearings and reduce performance.
Additionally, if you mount your AC unit near your garbage cans or pet areas, it will draw in the musty odors and stink up your whole house. Even if you have a filter, this is not going to keep out unwanted odors.
#2 Failing to Consider Electrical Hazards
A new air conditioner draws a lot of power. It needs proper wiring to handle the loads during peak periods. Only professional who understands electricity and the voltage can do it better. Consider connecting multiple devices to the circuit. And, your wiring is not appropriate to balance the loads. Then it can trip the circuit breaker or even melt the wires. Mis-wiring can cause short-circuits that quickly lead to house fires.
This also relates to the quality of the AC installation: if your unit is forced to cycle for longer periods of time due to an amateur installation, this is going to increase the voltage draw and potential heat generated by resistance in the wiring or unit.
#3 Failing to Install Piping Properly
Even simple things like using refrigeration lines that are too long or failing to insulate the pipes can cause significant problems in the long run. Un-insulated refrigeration lines will form condensation that wicks away and ruins drywall or other building materials. The pipes that travel from your A/C unit should be as short as possible to ensure that each circuit that the refrigerant travels is as efficient as possible.
#4 Failing to Comprehend HVAC
AC installers must understand HVAC and how every minute choice in materials or construction have a significant impact down the line. It is difficult for do-it-yourselfers to take the courses and time to educate themselves on the details. And the difference can mean a lot when the machine is running for hours a day. Any small failures can lead to broken A/C units, fires, water damage, and inefficient systems. At best, amateur installations will waste more electricity in a few months than the money saved on a professional installation.
#5 Installing the Wrong-Sized A/C Unit
Sizing requires some calculations. You must figure out the total BTU (British Thermal Units) of cooling that your home will need. BTU considers the total area the unit will cool and the number of people who will use the space at any given time. If you have a zoned climate control system, you must figure out which rooms may require A/C cooling. The general rule is to add 200 BTUs for every 50 square meters of floor space.
#6 Failing to Read the Warranty
The biggest mistake that do-it-yourselfers make is failing to read the warranty at all. Many warranties require the A/C system to be installed by a qualified HVAC technician. This stipulation means that even a general home contractor, let alone an amateur, may not qualify.
Warranty protections and their guaranteed peace of mind are enough to warrant buying a new system. Used A/C units may be less efficient and may have a lot of other question marks regarding their maintenance, premature wear, and actual value.
#7 Failing to Seal the Ductwork Properly
Leaky ductwork dramatically reduces the efficiency of your A/C system. If you fail to use the right quality of materials, it can become time-consuming and expensive to repair the damage. Leaky duct work also can cause condensation water damage and grow mold or mildew.
#8 Failing to Check for Freon Leaks
Even when you are working with a new unit, transportation and installation can cause damage to the condensing unit. It only takes one delicate seal to rupture for a leak to occur. All that jarring around and vibration during transport makes it easy for seals to get pinched or damaged. If freon starts leaking from the unit will reduce the cooling capacity of the appliance. And then stop it altogether.
Final Key Take Away – Avoid DIY AC Installation
There are a lot of highly technical aspects of installing an HVAC system. The installers make enough money on selling you the new A/C units that they buy at wholesale prices. When you purchase these units and try and do it yourself, you have already paid half the price for the job to the retailer. However, you never get all the warranty protection that you paid good money for because most warranties will blame your shoddy work.
In this regard, it is pointless even to spend the time to learn how to install HVAC systems yourself unless you plan on taking a course and going into the business. Not every job is suitable for doing it yourself when you consider that only professionals have the best materials. You will likewise have trouble finding the same quality of resins used by professionals who repair windshields. Sometimes, the deck is just stacked against you when you try and save money.
Installing a new A/C system is just one of those wasted-time-in-vain jobs.