June 16, 2020

The How’s and Why’s of Upgrading a Central AC System

When is it Time to Upgrade? Most of us replace our central AC system when we have to, in other words, when the old unit quits working. There are, however, a couple of good reasons to consider replacement before your current machine gives up the ghost. First, the worst time for a central air condition system to quit working is in the height of the cooling season. Installers are often backed up, leaving you and your family sweltering. Also, modern units offer considerable energy savings which can significantly reduce your energy costs, and those savings will begin as soon as you switch on your new unit.

I recently upgraded our system because I realized my aging AC was reaching the end of its expected life – about 25 years. I found the installation process quite interesting and the new features impressive. So, I captured it all on video.

The Survey.  To get things rolling, I called Encon, a well-known heating and air conditioning company that is also a Trane certified specialst, and asked for someone to come to our home, check out our existing system and make a recommendation. After a look around, project manager, Jen Crisanti, confirmed that my unit, indeed, was nearing the end of its useful life and recommended a full-featured replacement that was correctly sized for our home. So, I decided to move ahead.

 

My Choice. After considering a few options I settled on a Trane XL18i central air conditioning unit, alongside the Trane M-Series air handler. In addition to reducing my cooling cost, this system will keep indoor temperatures very consistent. Since my family and I suffer from air-borne allergies, I’ve also opted for a whole-home, in-duct air purifier. In addition, I decided to upgrade my thermostat to one that’s controllable from my
smartphone.

Out with the Old. Central air conditioning systems have two main components: an outdoor condenser and an indoor air handler. The video shows how these two units work together. Both pieces of equipment were taken out and the installation company took away all of the old equipment and materials. A good installer, by the way, should always do this.

 

 

In with the New. The condenser was placed on a new, level pad and new lines were run up to the attic which is where my air handler is located. These lines, which were an eyesore before, were now out of sight within a line set enclosure – a neat aesthetic improvement. In the attic, the air handler was hung by chain from the roof rafters with a drip pan installed underneath. The pan was fitted with a water sensor that will sound if there is ever an accumulation of water in the pan.

Ductwork Upgrades. While the majority of my ductwork is fine as is, there were a couple of improvements the installers recommended. The first involved replacing a section of flexible duct with a rigid sheet metal section which will be wrapped in a thicker insulation. This will improve air flow while keeping the air inside cooler. Two other smaller flexible feeder ducts were replaced with duct having better insulation value.

 

Added Touches. With the air handler itself in place, the Trane’s CleanEffects electronic air cleaner was attached. This air filtration system provides the highest efficiency possible with minimal effect on air flow. It removes up to 99.98% of airborne allergens that pass through the filter – particles like dust, pollen, pet hair and dander, dust mites, mildew, lint, fungus, most tobacco smoke, cooking grease, and even bacteria. These days, clean air in my home is especially important.

Discounting the time for video production, my installation took about a day and a half. Be sure and watch the video to see the details. Now, I have a system that’s quieter, smarter, more economical to operate; able to filter the indoor air for pollutants, bacteria and viruses; and can be operated from my smart phone. Bring on the warm weather – I’m ready.

Posted in: News Parts of the House Heating & Cooling Interior Maintenance Air Conditioning Energy Efficiency
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