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Central Air Without Ducts? What You Need to Know

Air Ducts
The summers seem like they're getting hotter every year, and when you have an older home with radiator heating you have fewer cooling options. While window air conditioners are a quick fix to your hot room problems, they don't have the same power that a central AC system can provide.
How can you get the cooling that comes along with central air conditioning without air ducts? Simply stated, you can't. Air ducts are an essential part of a forced-air central AC system. They transport the cooled air from the air conditioning unit throughout your home.
Hot water radiators may work well to heat your home in the winter, but they won't work with central air. Whether you want to upgrade your existing HVAC system or you're buying a new home that has radiators, take a look at some of the top questions that homeowners have about transforming a ductless environment into one that supports central air conditioning.

Why Do Some Homes Have Ducts and Others Don't?

Before you start thinking that you're an unlucky HVAC owner, take some time to understand why some systems require ducts and others don't. Knowing your system is the first step in making an AC upgrade. If you don't know how your current system functions, then you may find it challenging to effectively communicate your HVAC wants and needs with the technician or contractor.
A boiler and radiator system uses heated water (or sometimes steam) to warm your home. The metal radiators are sometimes exposed, but they may also be hidden in a recess behind a decorative register. Instead of using a fan to push hot air through the home, the heated water flows throw a series of pipes — meaning that you don't need air ducts.

Can Heating Ducts Double As AC Ducts?

If a home has a forced air heating system, then you can use the ducts for your air conditioning needs. This makes transforming a heater-only set-up to a heater and central air conditioner easier. Even though you'll still need to invest in the air conditioner component and condenser, you won't have to install an entirely new duct system.

Can a Home Without Ducts Have Central AC?

If your home doesn't have existing ducts, then you can still have a central air conditioning system installed — but it's not ideal. Many homes that don't have ductwork utilize window air conditioning units. While window AC units are effective, they won't cool your home as evenly as a central system and can cost more to run. They're also noisy and tend to drip water onto your yard or outdoor area.
A professional HVAC contractor can fit your home with the ducts needed to carry cold air through a central AC system into your rooms. The contractor will find the perfect places for your new ductwork.
This may mean installing ducts in basement spaces, the attic, crawl spaces or through closets. Finding ways to hide the ducts without breaking through the walls or having to remove larger areas of drywall is always advantageous.
The specific arrangement that the HVAC contractor chooses for your ducts depends on your home's set-up, how large your home is, and what your budget is. Keep in mind, the contractor will need to cut through your walls or ceilings to install registers for the cold air to come out of.

Are New Ducts Expensive?

The price of a central AC system depends on a few factors. Some larger homes may require an extensive, and expensive, series of ducts. A smaller home that needs less ductwork isn't likely to cost as much. Even though there is an upfront expense, installing a central AC system (and the ducts needed) provides you with cool and comfort — and that result is often priceless.
Your new air conditioning system can also increase your home's value. Making it easier, and more profitable, to sell.
Do you need new ducts? Contact Peterson Heating and Cooling for more information.