At Fire & Ice, we’ve installed thousands of air conditioners, heat pumps, and furnaces, and we’re here to provide answers about HVAC. And give advice. Not necessarily in that order.
When your HVAC equipment gets installed, every precaution is taken to ensure that the machine will work for years, sometimes decades. That means it works in harmony with all the other parts that constitute a system.
That also means that we put it in a place where the homeowner is happy, and that it’s in sync. And if later, an owner, or perhaps a person who has assumed ownership, wants it moved, our first reaction is that we advise against it.
Why? We’ll get into the reasons in this article.
But the homeowner who wants a change is always right. So then we start to provide information. Yes, we can move it, but it will require this much in labor costs. How much, and is it worth the hassle? We’ll talk about that, too.
First, let’s discuss why you might want your air conditioner moved.
6 Reasons You Might Want to Relocate Your AC
- Freeing up patio space
- Falling leaves/cottonwood/grass clippings clogging your system
- Curb appeal. You want to hide the AC so it’s not visible from the street
- You want to construct an addition to your home
- New landscaping
The most common reason that people are interested in moving an air conditioner is that their unit is loud. It’s either on or next to a patio or an outdoor living space. People want to move it around the corner to make it quieter. Even if you were to move it from one corner of the house to another corner, that’s a significant reduction in volume.
The other times that homeowners want it moved is when the AC is on a patio and people want to free up that space. They don’t like the fact that the previous owner put it on there and they want it moved.
Another scenario is people are putting in a new deck or different landscaping.
How Easy Is It to Move My Air Conditioner?
First, you have to disconnect the existing air conditioner. Basically, it’s a whole new install. You’re not paying for new equipment, but you need to pay for the labor. It’s probably a half-day job.
If you’re moving it only three feet over, maybe the service tech just has to braze a little more line set.
If you’re moving it around the corner, you might have to replace the entire line set. You have to tear the whole system down, recover the refrigerant, move the system and then refill it with that refrigerant.
If Fire & Ice were to do it, we would want to make it level, and to make it look like a brand new install. We’d lay down pea gravel and make sure the new area it’s going in is nice and level. (A level AC helps refrigerant flow through the coils evenly.)
Then we lay down a new pad.
Electrical can be a challenge sometimes. In a perfect world, you would be moving closer to the breaker, so you’re shortening the line. But if you’re moving farther away, you may need to install a junction box, which would involve an electrician.
The big caveat is the type of basement or whatever you’ve got under your home. If you’ve got a nice, finished basement with drywalled ceilings, and you’re trying to move your air conditioner 30 feet around the corner, it’s going to pose some problems.
The air conditioner’s line set has to get to the furnace. That may necessitate removing and reinstalling drywall, making a hole in the wall that isn’t aesthetically pleasing, and so on.
If you have an unfinished basement or crawl space, it makes it much easier.
If you’re moving it to a new area, you might have to drill new holes into the side of the house, one for the line set to go through, one for the electrical to go through, and fill the existing holes.
We’d seal the old line set hole to protect you from bugs and critters crawling in. If you have siding, you might want to get someone to put a new piece of siding there. Or if it’s a place that you don’t see very much, you could plant a bush or something there to hide it.
To reinstall the air conditioner, the steps would be:
- pump down the existing refrigerant
- remove all the refrigerant from the system and the line set
- cut the line set free
- cut the unit free
- install a whole new line set
- put pea gravel down
- put a pad down
- level everything
- recharge the system with refrigerant
- start it up to make sure everything is working.
Part of our process is making sure the air conditioner is working before we move it. If the customer says it’s working, and we never test it, and we move it, and it doesn’t work, whose fault is that? Ours.
Do you have to do a whole new line set?
You may not have to, but line sets are not very pliable, so they’re not easily moved. It’s difficult to bend the copper once it’s been set. If you’ve got a 20-year-old system and you start manipulating the lines, there’s a good chance you’re going to kink or break them.
What Is the Price to Move an Air Conditioner?
The price to move an AC, even if it’s just a few feet? $1500 or more, depending on how far it’s being moved, if we need to make new holes in the house, if we need to make a new line set, etc. For homeowners who want to move it, I pose the following scenario: Let’s say you’re looking at a 10, 15-year-old air conditioner, and you want to move it around the corner. As an example, let’s say it costs $1500 to move it. That’s 25% of the price of a new air conditioner. Do you really want to spend 25% to move it around the corner when you might get only 5, 7 more years out of it?
- Room for home addition
- Putting furnace in a closet or garage for aesthetics
- Freeing up space
- Furnace upgrade: A new unit might not fit where the old one was
With the right time and the right money, anything is possible, but it’s not recommended.
Moving a furnace is more complicated than moving an air conditioner. Say you’re finishing the basement or putting in a bathroom, which requires you to move the furnace.
Things that might need to be reconfigured:
- Gas line. (This will be skipped, obviously, for an electric furnace)
- Plumbing. Gases need to be vented, and condensation needs to be drained.
Usually, the HVAC unit is centrally located so it can evenly distribute the air. Moving the furnace necessitates altering the ductwork. If the furnace is moving a few feet away, the duct system won’t change enough to merit any concern. But moving the furnace any farther, and you’re upsetting the balance of the entire HVAC. The equilibrium (assuming the system was set up correctly in the first place), will be off, and now you’re feeling cold and hot spots in your home where none existed before.
Moving/reconfiguring ductwork could be a couple grand, at least. And, like an air conditioner, you might have to put in a whole new line set.
What Is the Price To Move a Furnace?
It could take $3000 to move a furnace three feet. It’s not like moving a washing machine, where you have to worry about only electricity and water. To some people, it’s worth it. But that’s a huge expense to move it a few feet away. It’s basically uninstalling and reinstalling your entire furnace. That’s a huge undertaking. That’s a solid full day, maybe two days of work.
What Sort of Inspection Do We Do After Everything Has Been Moved?
We would do commissioning from scratch. Whether it’s the AC or the furnace, we would do commissioning to make sure it’s within the manufacturer’s specifications.
We Can Answer Your HVAC Questions
At the end of a day, or at the end of a service call, we aim to make happy customers. We have the expertise to install, uninstall and move HVAC equipment, but if we leave behind an unhappy customer, we haven’t done our job.
If you want your furnace moved for whatever reason, we’re happy to do it. The purpose of this article is not to dissuade you from creating a more perfect home. But it’s important to know that a “simple” move is rarely that simple, and that the costs can add up.
It’s about knowledge: The more you have, the better you can decide.
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