“Can I Replace My AC Unit Myself?” Ben in Elk Grove Asks an HVAC Expert
Ben in Elk Grove, CA is quite the handyman. He has a pretty ambitious idea he wants to ask us about. Ben says:
“So, I’ve lived in Elk Grove, CA in the same house for the last 12 years or so. My wife and I really like the pace of things here and how it’s grown up quite a bit in the last decade. We love that Elk Grove is a growing city that doesn’t seem like it’ll ever lose its small town feel. Because of this, we plan to stay in our house for the foreseeable future.
Now, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you this, but it gets pretty hot in Elk Grove! With summer on the way soon, I want to be proactive about replacing my air conditioner since our 14-year-old model is just about at the end of its lifespan. My first question is: Would you suggest doing more maintenance on this AC unit and delay replacing it? My second question is: Can I replace my AC unit myself? I’d love to save some money on a DIY job if possible. Over the years I’ve handled a number of remodeling jobs myself, and I’m wondering if this one is more or less complex than something like laying new drywall.”
AC unit installation is complex and it’s best left to the cooling service pros.
Hey there, Ben. Not sure if you know this, but our very own Bell family actually lives in Elk Grove! So, I understand why you love it the way you do, and I strongly support your decision to stay there. Let me address your question about whether or not you can replace your AC unit myself, though. While I respect your ambition, I’m going to have to warn against it. AC unit installation is complex and it’s best left to the cooling service pros. It’s a good question, though, and one I think it’s worth exploring today in a bit more depth. Plus, for your trouble, I’ll offer some great advice on ways to save money when getting a new AC unit professionally replaced. Doesn’t that sound cool?
Can I Replace My AC Unit Myself?
Simply put, no, you cannot replace your AC unit yourself. Even if you have the technical know-how to install an AC unit, all of the electrical components add an elevated level of risk to the process. Plus, it takes nuanced HVAC experience to ensure you get the right unit for the size of your house. It involves delicate work after the installation is complete in order to ensure peak AC energy efficiency, like properly balancing your ductwork, retrofitting the new unit to your ductwork, and making sure you have the best smart thermostat to maximize the potential energy savings of your new unit.
It involves delicate work after the installation is complete in order to ensure peak AC energy efficiency, like properly balancing your ductwork, retrofitting the new unit to your ductwork, and making sure you have the best smart thermostat to maximize the potential energy savings of your new unit.
Another reason I warn against trying to replace your AC unit yourself is that installing the unit is only half of the job. The other half is the removal and disposal of the old equipment. Take it from me—a guy who has more than his fair share of experience doing this type of work—removal and disposal of the old equipment can be a tricky and strenuous part of any AC installation job, especially when there’s chemicals like freon involved. So, to sum it up for Ben and anyone else wondering, “Can I replace my AC unit myself?”, the answer is no. I strongly recommend that you enlist the help of a trained professional to do this work because they’ll guarantee it gets done right and often help you find ways to save money more money than you could on your own.
Ways to Save Money When Installing a New AC Unit
Now, simply replacing your old AC unit will likely save you money right off the bat, as new models will naturally be more energy efficient than older one. It just makes sense (or cents—sorry for the pun!), especially with SMUD energy rate increases coming soon to our area.
Also, as promised, I want to let Ben and anyone else whose AC unit is getting up there in years know about some great ways you can save money when it comes time to pick out a new unit and have it installed. Specifically, the two ways to save even more when you replace your AC unit are by:
- Replacing your furnace and AC at the same time: This is a simple one. If, like Ben, your AC unit is getting up in the 12-15 year range, you probably already know that it’s time to replace it. You should also seriously consider replacing your furnace at the same time as your air conditioner, even if it still might have a few good years left. Doing both jobs at the same time often costs significantly less in the long run. You can also ensure that the new thermostat you get to compliment your new AC unit plays nicely with your modern furnace as well.
- Applying for financing programs: We’re lucky in the Sacramento region because we have more than our fair share of financing programs, like HERO, that can help you pay for energy efficiency upgrades to your house—especially if you take a whole home approach to energy efficiency by investing in things like a smart thermostat, upgraded insulation, and double pane, energy efficient windows, all of which you can get help to pay for. These programs are easy to qualify for and generally include no interest and no money down, provided you have some equity in your home to draw from.
So, there you have it, a handy guide that answers the question: Can I replace my AC unit myself? As I said earlier, the short answer is no, you really shouldn’t. I know it’s possible to DIY the job, especially for handy guys like our friend Ben, but there’s just so much that can go wrong.
My advice is to call out a trained and experienced HVAC professional who can actually help to save you money in the long run.
My advice is to call out a trained and experienced HVAC professional who can actually help to save you money in the long run. Here at Bell Brothers, we have years of experience doing this sort of work, and we can also help you take advantage of the latest energy efficiency upgrades, as well as the financing programs available in our area to pay for them. As Ben noted, summer is indeed coming—and I expect you’ll want to do everything you can to beat the heat.
At Bell Brothers, our trained HVAC professionals would be delighted to help you pick out a new AC unit and to handle the installation. We can also help make your home more energy-efficient by cleaning and sealing up your leaky ductwork. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
Wondering how to finance a new HVAC—or even a furnace or window upgrade? HERO is a unique financing option that helps California homeowners afford energy efficient upgrades to their home. Contact Bell Brothers, a HERO-approved contractor, to learn more. Our local HVAC, plumbing, and window specialists will walk you through the entire process, from applications to installation.
Image courtesy Pixabay user falconp4