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DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

Does anyone know the cost (estimate) to install central air conditioning in an older two story house?

Asked by DarlingRhadamanthus (11271points) June 15th, 2010

I have looked at a number of older (1920 houses) and some of them do not have central air conditioning. This is not in a cooler part of the US either. Having lived in these areas in the past, I know that window units do not work well. Do you have any idea what it would cost to install central A/C in a house? Ball-park? If it has forced hot air vents already? If it doesn’t? Is it a very difficult process? I just want to know what to figure into the cost of the house.

Any info would be appreciated.

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14 Answers

janbb's avatar

We installed central air in a 1920s house about 10 years ago. The heating is steam so they didn’t have vents to go through. They went down from the attic and put the tubing in the walls and closets and installed vents in the ceilings. It cost about $7,000 for the installation. If you have more questions, feel free to ask.

poofandmook's avatar

You should check your insulation before you bother. I don’t know the details, but you have a contractor come in and you close all the windows and they blow air throughout the house and it tells them how much air your house leaks… or something to that effect. If your house is poorly insulated, I wouldn’t waste time with central air until it was properly insulated.

SamIAm's avatar

I think it depends but I know my mother needs to replace her central air and they estimated 10,000 for the job (it’s a pretty big house, not 1920’s old but not brand new either)

janbb's avatar

We put in the air conditioning 10 years ago and did the energy assessment and insullation this year. Ass-backward but it is possible to do one and then the other. Air and heat were probably less efficient but they did work.

Drcpb's avatar

It largely depends on where you live. Where I live now, it’s about $8,000. However, when I lived back in Arkansas, it was about $6,000. You should be able to call an electrician to see how much he or she would charge to buy one for you as well as install it. As @poofandmook said, a contractor will need to come in and check your insulation.

john65pennington's avatar

For a 1920s old house, you are looking at a lot of money. first, the house needs insullation. if not, your electric bills will reach to the moon. second. you will need a large central unit to supply air throughout the house, especially if you have a heatpump combination. the overall cost, depending on where you live, should be in the ballpark of $15 to $20,000 dollars.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Many of those older homes were designed to allow for air current to flow freely through the space. You may find some clever fan installation combined with windowless portable A/C units to be all you need.

gailcalled's avatar

You have to factor in the increase of your monthly electric bill also.

majorrich's avatar

My Brother had AC installed in his home several years ago. He installed many of the tubes himself, but still it cost mid $7000 for the project. The nozzels are pretty neat though and cool the house draft free.

YARNLADY's avatar

I’m with @john65pennington on the price. We had several estimates for our rental last year, and the lowest one was over $12,000.

Edit: They also pointed out there would be several hundred dollars of upgrading to the electrical system to support it.

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

Thank you everyone! It’s about the price that I thought anywhere from 5 for low….20 for high. I really do appreciate all the answers….....LURVE going out to all of you!

PandoraBoxx's avatar

You may have to replace the furnace when you install central air into a house to make sure the blower on the furnace is compatible with the compressor unit. Depending on the size of the house, it may make sense to install a separate unit for the second floor, or at least a heat pump. In our house, the second unit actually lowered the cooling bill.

alamo's avatar

Get an energy audit first. It does two things. It tells you where you are currently under insulated and where the air leaks are located. It is also needed by a good HVAC contractor to figure the capacity needed for your home. If you get too large a unit, it can increase the humidity in the house because the unit doesn’t run long enough to remove the proper amount of moisture when it cools.
In my experience, 5,000 to 20,000, while a huge difference, is probably accurate. You can keep the costs down by using less expensive equipment. Goodman is similar to Trane but a little less expensive. Nutone is trying to get into the heating and air market and is selling some inexpensive units with 10 year replacement warranties.
The type of system you choose also influences cost. A package unit draws the air to the box on the outside of the house, heats or cools it, then sends it back into the house. The only other cost is running the ductwork. It’s economical in my area for remodels. A split system has an exterior unit and a furnace in the attic or crawlspace. It needs power to both locations and a line set and control wires running between the two.Then you run the ductwork.
. Get several estimates from different HVAC contractors. Different contractors get different rates from their suppliers, even for the same equipment.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

I’m usually pretty good at budgeting for home repairs. If you are looking for a figure to budget in for negotiating the price of the house, I would use $15,000 for air conditioning/furnace/insulation/electrical work. It will most likely be less than that. There are different grades of air conditioning systems; the less expensive ones often have to be replaced after 3–5 years. I bought an up-end system 21 years ago, and have not had a moment’s problem with it. My inexpensive heat pump has to have new freon put in every summer (less expensive than replacing the unit.)

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