Air Conditioning / September 8, 2020

Adding onto Your Home? Don’t Ignore Your AC

Adding more space onto your home can help make it more livable, while also increasing your home’s resale value. As more people find themselves forced to stay home, major remodeling projects have become all the more critical. While your first thoughts during a renovation may not turn to your HVAC system, you shouldn’t ignore this crucial element of any home addition.

These four tips will help you to understand how and why your home’s air conditioning needs may change after adding onto your house.

1. Pay Attention to Square Footage

To calculate the capacity of your AC unit, you need to know the square footage of the area it will cool. Assuming ceilings of typical height, an HVAC technician can make a quick back-of-the-envelope estimate on the BTU requirements added by each new square foot of your addition. If the capacity of your air conditioner is already at its limit, then this simple change may push it over the edge.

You might want to ignore capacity problems, but a poorly sized air conditioner will run longer and still fail to cool your home adequately. This additional runtime places extra stress on the system, wearing out parts sooner and leading to costly repairs. If your current system lacks the capacity for your new addition, then it may be time to consider an upgrade.

2. Be Mindful of Load

You can think of your home’s interior climate as a system of inputs and outputs. Everything from appliances to computers to sunny windows adds energy into the system. These inputs increase the load on your air conditioner, forcing it to work harder to remove heat energy from the system. In other words, square footage alone does not always tell the whole story.

Calculating the impact of these additional sources of heat loading can be tricky, so this is an area where you should rely on a professional with experience. In most cases, small sources of additional heat load won’t force an upgrade on their own, but they are always worth keeping in mind. An oversized south-facing window or large kitchen appliance may be enough to overwhelm an already stressed AC system.

3. Consider Zone Issues

Zone placement is a significant concern when building a new home, but it’s one worth considering for additions, as well. If you’re only adding a bathroom, laundry room, or another small space, then adding a new zone doesn’t make much sense. On the other hand, building out a new zone for a substantial addition with several rooms may have a noticeable impact on your comfort and utility bills.

When deciding on how to split your system, consider your current thermostat placement and the level of isolation in the new addition. If your nearest thermostat is relatively far from the addition, then your AC may shut off before cooling the new rooms. Likewise, an isolated area (such as an in-law apartment) should usually have its own temperature controls.

4. Consult First

Most importantly, you should consult with an HVAC technician as part of your initial planning. In addition to helping you calculate the extra cooling capacity required for your new addition, a professional can recommend a zoning scheme and point out potential issues with your existing equipment and ductwork.

You may want to pair this consultation with a thorough inspection. Leaky ductwork or old, failing equipment can become a much larger problem when you place more stress on your HVAC system. If you discover these issues now, you can address them as part of your overall renovation process, rather than uncovering them after the work is complete.

Whatever your renovation needs, Mauzy Heating, Air & Solar can ensure that your HVAC system is up to the task. Get in touch with us to begin planning your consultation and evaluation today!

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