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Is It Worth Adding Central Air Conditioning to an Old House?

It is hard to rival the charm of the many historic and vintage homes in Maryland and Virginia, but living in them comes with challenges. One of those difficulties can be keeping comfortable in the summer. If you own an older home built before central AC was standard or has undergone expansions without its AC system being upgraded, you might find your house gets hot and muggy in the summer.

So, is it worth investing in central air conditioning to accommodate the added space? Maybe. The answer to this question will depend on several factors unique to you and your home, including:

  • The configuration of your home
  • The type of central AC installation you currently have
  • Your heating and cooling goals
  • Your budget

As an HVAC company serving this area for generations, we're here to provide some guidance to help you decide. Keep reading to learn more about what's involved in expanding a central air system and potential alternatives.

What's Involved in Expanding a Central Air System?

Expanding a central air system in an older home is more complex than replacing it or installing a new system in a newer build. It requires thoroughly assessing the home's current structure and configuration in context with any remodeling plans.

Expanding a central AC system often involves:

  • Purchasing and installing a larger capacity HVAC system
  • Extending your ductwork to new parts of the house
  • Repairing and/or replacing old ductwork
  • Construction inside your home to embed new ductwork into your walls, attics, and/or crawlspace

Depending on the extent of the project, homeowners can expect the central air expansion process to take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks.

Before proceeding with a central AC expansion project, you should have your home and HVAC professionally inspected.

Potential Difficulties or Challenges

Adding central air to older, expanded homes poses specific difficulties that homeowners should be aware of. Fitting new ductwork and air handlers can be tricky in homes not designed with modern HVAC systems in mind. Furthermore, installing new components may require building around existing structures, which can be time-consuming and expensive.

Expanding your central air system may not be possible if you are dealing with:

  • Limited space: Older homes might not have enough space in walls, attics, or crawlspaces to accommodate new or extended ductwork and air handlers.
  • Structural constraints: Existing structures, such as load-bearing walls and historical architectural elements, may hinder the installation of new HVAC components.
  • Electrical capacity: The home's current electrical system may not support the added load of a more powerful central air conditioning unit.

Additionally, for some homeowners, these challenges, combined with the costs associated with extensive construction, new ductwork, and a larger-capacity HVAC unit, can make this project not worth the time and effort. If this is your situation, we encourage you to consider your alternatives.

Consider a Ductless Alternative

If expanding your central air system seems daunting or too costly, consider other options. One popular choice is the installation of mini-split systems. These systems are incredibly versatile and do not require ductwork, making them ideal for older homes where installing ductwork would be invasive or impractical.

Benefits of ductless, mini-split systems can include:

  • Custom comfort
  • Energy efficiency
  • No ductwork required
  • Flexible installation
  • Quiet operation
  • Improved air quality

Donmar Heating, Cooling & Plumbing Is Here to Help You Decide

Expanding your central air conditioning system in an older or remodeled home is a significant investment. Still, it can offer immense benefits in terms of comfort and efficiency. That said, such an involved process won't be for everyone, and there are viable alternatives to consider.

For Maryland and Virginia homeowners seeking to enhance their home's cooling capacity, consulting with the team at Donmar Heating, Cooling & Plumbing is a good idea. With a strong reputation across the area, backed by decades of experience, we’re here to provide tailored advice and quality service to ensure your home is as comfortable as possible.

Feel free to contact us with any questions or to schedule an evaluation of your specific situation—we're more than happy to help!

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