If it's been a while since you last replaced your air conditioner, then you're probably looking forward to having a newer and more energy efficient A/C system installed in your home. However, making the following mistakes during the installation process can easily turn your air conditioned dreams into a sweltering nightmare.
Mistake #1: Not Properly Sizing Your Air Conditioner
This is probably the first and most common mistake that homeowners make when it comes to their air conditioning installation. Many homeowners and quite a few contractors still believe that "bigger is better" when choosing a new air conditioner. After all, you can always use the extra cooling capacity, right?
As it turns out, having an oversized air conditioner can actually hurt your home more than it could possibly help. A huge air conditioner can definitely bring temperatures down to your desired set point, but it won't have enough time to properly remove excess moisture from the air it cools. The end result is a home that feels clammy and an A/C system that could fall prone to short cycling and a host of other wear-related issues.
Some homeowners and contractors also underestimate the amount of cooling capacity their home needs and, as a result, purchase air conditioners that are too small to effectively cool those spaces. Some people also think a smaller air conditioner also uses less energy. However, it could end up running all day and all night in a futile effort to bring temperatures down, resulting in higher energy usage and reduced comfort.
Mistake #2: Not Using the Proper Amount of Refrigerant
Many air conditioners, notably those intended to use older refrigerants, arrive from the factory as "dry charged" units. These units aren't pre-charged with refrigerant, so it's up to your HVAC contractor to properly charge the unit before it's put into service. Charging the unit with too much or too little refrigerant can have adverse effects on your A/C system's overall performance and longevity.
Mistake #3: Placing Your Condenser Too Close to Walls and Shrubbery
You might not like the way your air conditioner looks, but hiding it amongst shrubbery and nestling it too close against walls could have some pretty negative effects. The outdoor cabinet needs unhindered air flow to operate properly, and placing the cabinet in close proximity to obstructions can choke off that air flow.
It's a good idea to keep shrubs at least 2 to 3 feet away from the base of the outdoor cabinet. Trees should be planted at least 30 feet away from the unit and kept clear of branches from 6 to 10 feet above the ground. The unit should also be kept at least 2 feet from walls, other solid barriers and other A/C units.
It's also important to keep outdoor cabinet positioning in mind. It's usually best to keep your outdoor unit in a shaded spot on the north or east side of your building. This will help reduce its exposure to sunlight and solar heat.
Mistake #4: Improper Thermostat Placement
In order to bring indoor temperatures to your desired setting, your thermostat must be able to read the correct temperature. This is what makes thermostat placement so crucial when it comes to your air conditioning installation. Placing the thermostat in areas where it could be exposed to direct sunlight or drafts can easily skew temperature readings, causing your A/C system to cool too much or too little.
Finding a good spot for your thermostat involves good planning that takes a variety of factors into account. Thermostats should be kept on interior walls and away from windows and other areas where solar gain could become an issue. Also, thermostats should be kept away from return air vents and other areas where cold drafts are common.