We tend to be a people of immediate gratification, where bigger is better. Even air conditioning systems are seeing a trend toward bigger and bigger units, whether or not they actually create a more comfortable home.
There’s a lot more to your home comfort than the size of your HVAC system. Your home’s air duct system is one important factor that’s often overlooked. Just like veins and arteries circulate blood to and from your heart, your air duct system circulates airflow throughout the home.
Oversized heating and cooling equipment, undersized ductwork
There are some fairly involved technical methods to determine the correct sizing of heating and cooling systems and ductwork. Judging by the homes we see time and time again in Edmond and Oklahoma City, contractors have largely stopped using these calculations, instead using estimates based on square footage.
These estimates are highly unreliable, leaving many homes built in the last 25 years with oversized HVAC equipment and undersized ductwork. According to some estimates, this is an issue in 70% of homes built in the last 25 years.
Your air conditioner has two purposes: removing heat and controlling moisture. An oversized system may quickly cool down the home by removing the warm air, but won’t have long enough cooling cycles to adequately remove humidity.
That can make it feel like a swamp in your home! 75 degrees with 70% humidity isn’t very comfortable. Humidity can also lead to mold, and over time can warp the expensive woodwork in the home, including window and door frames and even your wood flooring.
Lifespan of equipment
Your central HVAC system (or systems) is likely one of the largest investments in your home. An improperly sized system is not running at peak efficiency, causing your equipment to age more quickly, requiring premature replacement.
Undersized duct work causes your system to work harder to circulate the air, which can lead to premature failure of your compressor and can potentially damage other parts of the heating and cooling system.
Having a system that’s too small can also be an issue, causing the system to run much more frequently, racking up huge utility bills in the process Constantly starting up and shutting down will shorten your system’s lifespan in the long run.
We recommend having a trusted professional contractor assess your system’s performance, based on calculations for your home and scientific expertise—not general estimates based on square footage. A good contractor will evaluate your current system and duct work to measure the current level of airflow.
You should avoid a contractor who insists what you have now is perfectly fine without performing diagnostics. If a contractor insists upon using square footage as the baseline, you may want to find a different contractor.
And make sure the contractor you choose is willing to inspect your air duct system as well. We’ve been told many companies in the Edmond and Oklahoma City markets will not address issues with the duct system. This is like a heart surgeon telling you clogged arteries aren t a problem! Homes can lose as much as 50% of their system’s heating and cooling capacity due to insufficient or faulty duct systems.
You might even be able to save money on your next replacement by decreasing the size of the equipment. Who wouldn’t be interested in saving a little money and ending up with a system that is sized correctly, keeps you more comfortable, and will last longer?