Air Conditioning Systems - Can I replace just my outdoor AC unit as my indoor unit is only 5 years old?
If your Tampa area home has a split air conditioning system, this is a question that may come up. It’s not unreasonable to wonder if you can just replace the half of your system that’s going bad, but sometimes, that’s like replacing half of your car – it just can’t be done.
If you’re fortunate, and pay attention to maintenance, repairs on your system will be minimal, but let’s face it: stuff happens. So what happens if you get the dreaded feeling that your outdoor unit – the one with the compressor – is starting to kick off, but your indoor unit – the one with the evaporator – is still going fine?
Mis-matching units is delicate, but not impossible. The short answer: Usually Not. The long answer is what this article is about. We’ll dig into some of what you’re looking at.
In Florida, and most other states, the issue is ensuring a “rated” match. An outdoor AC unit can’t legally be installed or permitted in Tampa without getting proof from the manufacturer that the indoor and outdoor units match. This is tricky, because those units are rated as a system, not as individual components. If the manufacturer can’t or won’t sign off, you won’t be able to replace just one unit.
If your system is older, the indoor AC unit won’t typically be able to be rated as a match with a new outdoor unit. You’ll end up replacing your entire air conditioning system. Fortunately, as the compressor is one of the most expensive parts of your system, replacing both units isn’t really twice as expensive as replacing one.
If your outdoor unit is going or gone, you can call your HVAC company, and give them the model number of your existing indoor unit and they will typically be able to look it up and tell you whether it can be matched to a new outdoor unit.
Why is it so difficult to replace just the outdoor AC unit here in Tampa?
There’s a lot of technical information that goes into this decision. Electrical loads, part compatibility, AHRI ratings, and more are factored in. If an exact match is possible, you’ll be all right, but if you or a contractor tries to “guess” matches, you could be in for inefficient running or even premature failure of the new mismatched system.
Your best bet is to speak to a professional you trust, have them run the numbers for you, and come up with an economical solution to your problem.
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