Everything You Need to Know about Central Air Installation

Published by 
Last updated: 
November 6, 2015

Central air installation is making its way into every household. And it’s no wonder, since no one likes sweating in the summertime. No longer a luxury, air conditioning units are a must, in areas where summer temperatures spike and the nights are unbearable. New models are becoming more efficient, quieter and cheaper. With all this in mind, it’s difficult to say no to central air conditioning installation. Thorough research on the internet and time spent reading reviews will help you decide what the best air conditioning for your home is, and it will shed some light on the steps you have to go through. But the ultimate question is “how much to install central air?”

The ABCs of central air

There is something you should do before drafting up a budget, starting to save money for the investment, and even before you ask around “how much does it cost to install central air?” Read all about the basics and know exactly what you need for your house. There is a significant difference between an air conditioning unit that can cool down 200 square feet and a central air installation that can handle a couple thousand feet. Narrow down your search and focus on an installation that will be able to cope with the square footage of your home. But don’t go overboard. While buying a central air installation is a sensible investment, don’t fall into the trap of buying more than you need.

An air conditioning that is too big will be difficult to handle, uncomfortable to set-up and more expensive. You might also want to get familiar with specific air conditioning terms. For example, tons are used to measure the output of an air conditioning unit. The higher the number, the more heat the installation will be able to remove from your house within an hour. If you’re looking for a central air conditioner installation that meets the expectations of a home measuring 1,500 square feet, look at units that are around 2.5 tons. But there are other factors to consider, besides central air installation cost. The rooms on the second and third floor are bound to become hotter during summertime than the basement. To make sure you factor in all the variables, you might want to hire an air conditioning contractor, who will help you make the right choice to suit both your home and your budget.

Central air installation

Cost to install central air

You might be tempted to keep an eye on sales and seize an air conditioner deal from a local wholesaler. This could bring down the central air installation cost, but you’ll need some expertise in order to make sure the installation job is done properly. We recommend you leave the whole process to professionals who’ll ensure that the job is done flawlessly and there are no faulty parts within the installation. If you’ve just moved into a new house or apartment that has never had air conditioning before, you’ll find there is an entire list of things to take care of. This is where a HVAC contractor will come in handy. The air conditioning installation will require additional breakers in the electrical panel, as well as wires within the foundation. You’ll also need a separate duct connected to the HVAC unit. An experimented air conditioner contractor will be able to give you an accurate estimate on the cost of installing central air in your home. Be prepared to pay anywhere between $3,000 for the cheapest models and $5,000 for a two ton unit. The latest systems can set you back by up to $10,000 if you are interested in top notch quality and an extended warranty.

Additional costs

There are a few things that could spike the price of your central air installation. If the design of your house is tricky, it might require additional duct work, which is bound to increase the total cost of the investment. Likewise, if you’re in need of a new thermostat, get ready to add that expense to the list of additional costs. If you don’t want to put up with a noisy air conditioning unit, there are ways to reduce the noise levels and make sure air conditioning doesn’t keep you up all night. Most units run at around 75 decibels, which translates to a noise that is loud enough to be heard through a window. Recent air conditioning models come with an implemented noise reduction feature. However, this doesn’t come cheap. If you decide to invest in a durable installation, expect to pay more for extra options that will keep you comfortable and happy on hot days.

Central air installation

How it works

A central air conditioner installation works in the same way a refrigerator does, only on a bigger scale. Employing chemicals that change their state from gas to liquids over and over again, the heat within a house is sucked out and replaced with cooler air. An air conditioner comprises an evaporator, which is part of a furnace, a compressor and a condenser, which are on the outside. When the compressor receives low pressure gas, the fluid is squeezed and it exits as a high pressure gas. As the fluid passes through the condenser, it cools down and shifts to a high pressure liquid. This goes on to pass through the evaporator, and, as its pressure drops, it transforms into a gas. The evaporating process draws out the heat within the room. When the fluid goes through the evaporator as a low pressure gas, it returns to the compressor to restart the process again. The fan that is attached to the evaporator is in charge with circulating the air within the rooms of a house. Since hot air is lighter, it rises above cooler air to be sucked into the central air unit.


After spending time on tackling the issue of how to install central air, and after investing in extra features, air conditioner maintenance will be minimum. However, you might deal with various issues like leaks or poor airflow over the years. Before you rush to the phone to schedule a service check-up, there are some steps you can perform to try to fix the problem yourself. These are the most common issues that tend to pop up over time.

Air conditioning not working at all

If you’re taken by surprise by your central air conditioning that has stopped working, you should first head to the thermostat and check if it’s working properly. If there’s nothing wrong with the thermostat, try checking the following:

  • Head over to the electrical panel and look for any tripped circuit breakers or blown fuses. Resetting them should solve the problem and restore your air conditioning to proper functioning.
  • Check to make sure the furnace power switch is on. You will find a power button on the outdoor unit.
  • Switch off the central air conditioning’s power and replace the batteries on your thermostat. Wait five minutes before giving the unit another try.

The central air unit is not cooling properly

If your air conditioning is working but it’s doing a poor job, there are some steps you can perform to locate the issue.

  • The first thing you should check is the filter. A clogged panel will most likely obstruct the air from flowing into the room, leading to poor cooling. Filters should be cleaned or replaced on a regular basis in order to avoid damage to the other parts of the air conditioning unit.
  • If the coils are surrounded by ice, you can close the unit, switch it back on and turn on the fan. You should notice the ice melting in a couple of hours.
  • Since they suck out all the moisture from the air, central air conditioners are bound to produce a lot of water. The drain pipe that is supposed to evacuate the water can get blocked, resulting in the air conditioning breaking down and creating a puddle on your floor. Cleaning the drain will take care of the issue.

Unusual noise coming from the A/C

If you start noticing a strange sound coming from your central air unit, it’s probably produced by a faulty or worn out belt. Generally, the belt that links the motor to the slips of the blower slips and needs to be replaced. A grinding sound coming from the blower usually points towards a motor problem. For this, you might want to call a professional service person. A rattling noise from the furnace might indicate that the panels are not tightly screwed on.

Central air installation

Air conditioning maintenance and guidelines

You might be tempted to neglect periodical maintenance for your central air unit. But if you want your investment and efforts to pay off, keep this check-list in mind so you can strike the perfect balance between cost efficiency and performance levels.

  • Air conditioning filters are often neglected and forgotten. Regularly replacing and cleaning your central air filters will improve the unit’s efficiency and increase its longevity. Filters do not only keep your air clean, they also keep the essential parts of the system dirt free.
  • Air conditioning coils are bound to clog and collect dirt over the years. An obstructed coil will lead to poor airflow and decrease the performance of your air conditioner. You should periodically clean the area surrounding the condenser unit and remove falling leaves and other debris that could clog the coils.
  • The condensate drains play a major role in the well-functioning of your central air unit. To keep them clean and dirt free, take a wire and pass it through the drains to clear out any debris. This way, your system will be able to prevent excess humidity that could produce condensation and affect the walls and woodwork in your house.

When looking for a suitable central air installation, you have to ask more questions than the classic how much does central air cost? You should take into account the square footage of your home, employ a seasoned HVAC contractor and also get ready to pay for extra options that will ensure you’re comfortable during the oncoming hot summer months. Latest air conditioner models come with top of the line features, but maintenance is a requirement that shouldn’t be neglected or postponed.

Image sources: 1, 2, 3.

All Things HVAC

We formed this web site so consumers could have an educational place to go for good, solid information.  We are not trying to sell you anything.
Copyright © 2023 AllThingsHVAC. All Rights Reserved