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How long does it take to install an air conditioner?

A typical air conditioner installation can take anywhere from 4 to 8 hours to complete. In some instances, this can take longer depending on the scope of the project. In this video, we’ll go over the entire process of installing an air conditioner and from start to finish.

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November 11th, 2021

A typical air conditioner installation can take anywhere from 4 to 8 hours to complete. In some instances, this can take longer depending on the scope of the project. In this video, we’ll go over the entire process of installing an air conditioner and from start to finish.

Hi, I’m Billie and I’m the Install Field Supervisor at Fire & Ice. Over the years we have helped thousands of Columbus and Central Ohio homeowners find the best solution for their heating and cooling needs. A question we get asked by our customers is how long will it take to install my air conditioner? At Fire  & Ice we want to be as transparent as possible and our customers to be as informed as possible. By the end of this video, I hope you'll have a better idea of what to expect from an air conditioner installation.

The In-Home Estimate

Did you know that all installations start with the in-home estimate? Why? Because it’s the best time to determine the exact size air conditioner for your home. To do this, a manual j load calculation should be performed at every estimate. A load calculation is used to find how much heat your home naturally absorbs during the summer and releases during winter. With a manual j load calculation, you can determine the exact size air conditioner that will meet your home’s individual needs.

Additionally, your sales professional will take note of any additional work that will be needed, which includes placement of the system, line set configuration, ductwork modifications, and more.

On the Day of Installation

A typical air conditioner installation typically takes between 4 and 8 hours to complete. These times can fluctuate depending on the size of the existing system, weather, and accessibility.  

Air conditioners are made up of two components: the indoor evaporator coil and an outdoor condenser. On the day of installation, the installers will need access to both units. Before they begin, the installers will take a few minutes to lay drop cloths to protect your flooring and assess the current system for the best way to remove it.

With a plan in place and power cut off to the air conditioner, the installers will capture the refrigerant inside the air conditioner. Refrigerant is considered hazardous to the environment by the EPA, and licensed HVAC contractors should always take this step when removing an air conditioner. This process can take a couple hours.

While the refrigerant is being captured, the disconnect is dismantled and removed as well as all the wiring to the air conditioner. Once the refrigerant is captured, it's time to remove both the outdoor and indoor unit as well as the old line set. Disconnecting and removing the equipment and line set can take an additional hour.

Next, the new air conditioner is brought out and the area where the air conditioner will be located is prepped with a bed of gravel for the pad to sit on. The outdoor unit then is slid onto the pad and leveled. Inside, the new evaporator coil is attached to the furnace. Getting the indoor and outdoor units in position and mounted can take a half hour to an hour and a half.

Next is to run the new line set from the outdoor unit to the indoor unit. At Fire & Ice we replace all line sets and wiring with every air conditioner we install. The line set is connected by brazing it with nitrogen to create an airtight seal free of contaminants. Running a new line set and brazing it in can take anywhere between 1 and 2 hours.

The next step is connecting all the wiring. First, we install a new disconnect for power. The second step is all the wiring needed for the air conditioner to communicate with the rest of the HVAC system. This is important since the wiring dictates whether or not the air conditioner switches to heat mode to cool, and vice versa. This step typically takes around an hour to complete.

Once everything is wired, it’s time to release the refrigerant and pressurize the system. Depending on the size of your system this can take between one or two hours to get within manufacturer specifications. During this time, we add line set protection to each air conditioner we install. This adds a layer of protection from the elements and helps maintain your system's efficiency.

Once the system is charged, it's time to turn everything on and commission the system. Commissioning new HVAC equipment is critical and is often ignored by HVAC contractors. It's done to ensure everything is operating as it should. Failing to commission an air conditioner can result in lackluster performance, wasted energy, and potential breakdowns. Afterwards, the installer will clean the area where they were working and review the system with you.

Best Practices to Protect Your Air Conditioner

Now that the installation is complete, there are a couple things you can do to help get the most from your system. First is to change your filter on a regular basis. A dirty filter can put a lot of strain on your air conditioner. Your air conditioner will work harder than it needs to, costing you in energy and could potentially lead to premature breakdowns.

Next is to schedule maintenance on your air conditioner. In order for manufacturers to honor their warranties, yearly maintenance is expected. Neglecting to have your HVAC system serviced could result in 30-50% higher utility bills.

What are the next steps?

I hope by now you have a better understanding of what goes on during a typical air conditioner installation and a better idea of how long it can take. If you are looking to invest in a new air conditioner or full HVAC system for your home and live in Columbus or Central Ohio, feel free to schedule a free estimate on our website. We’d love to discuss your options. Thank you for watching and we look forward to making your day better.

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