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Air Conditioning for Old Houses

Nov 01, 2023

When it comes to heating and cooling old houses, there are a lot of factors to consider. For old houses in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia areas, especially, we know you want to make sure your home is as comfortable as possible year-round.


But how can you cool your old home efficiently during those hot summer months? Let’s take a look at some of the options available, as well as the special considerations you need to think about when it comes to old houses.

Challenges of Air Conditioning in Old Houses

Living in an older house can be a delightful experience, but it also comes with unique challenges. One major issue is that the electrical systems might not be equipped to handle modern appliances like air conditioners. 


Insulation is another concern. Older homes may lack adequate insulation, making them energy-inefficient and expensive to heat or cool. This results in temperature fluctuations and discomfort during extreme weather conditions.


Renovations can be challenging for owners of old houses. Preserving the historical value while integrating modern amenities like air conditioning can be a delicate balancing act.


Older houses generally demand more maintenance and upkeep. Regular inspections and preemptive repairs can prevent problems from escalating, especially if you want to upgrade or install new air conditioning systems.

5 Ways Old Homes Need Special Care When It Comes to Air Conditioning

For older homes, finding ways to cool off is more than a matter of buying a window unit or investing in central a/c.


  1. Ductwork Inspection: Older homes often have ductwork that may be outdated, leaky, or poorly designed. A professional inspection can identify issues and ensure proper airflow, preventing energy wastage and uneven cooling.
  2. Retrofitting for Efficiency: Upgrading an older home's air conditioning system to a more energy-efficient model may require specialized retrofitting. This includes assessing the existing infrastructure, modifying the space for modern units, and ensuring compatibility with older electrical systems.
  3. Freon Replacement: Many older air conditioning systems use Freon (R-22) as a refrigerant, which is now phased out due to its harmful environmental impact. Replacing the refrigerant with an eco-friendly alternative demands expertise and careful handling to avoid system damage.
  4. Preservation of Historical Features: Especially in the DMV areas, your home may have unique architectural elements, such as decorative vents or antique registers. When installing or repairing air conditioning, it's crucial to preserve these historical features and integrate the new components harmoniously.
  5. Humidity Control: Older homes may have inadequate insulation or ventilation, leading to increased humidity levels. Special attention is required to choose air conditioning systems that effectively manage humidity, prevent mold growth, and maintain a comfortable indoor environment.

Solutions for Air Conditioning in Old Houses

If you live in an old home, you don’t have to live without air conditioning. Some solutions will work better for your house and budget than others.

Central Air Conditioning

Installing central air conditioning in an old house is possible but can present some challenges. The main obstacle is the absence of existing ductwork needed for central AC. Retrofitting the home with ducts can be expensive and may require modifications to your home’s infrastructure, including doors, walls, floors, and ceilings. 

High-Velocity Air Conditioning

High-velocity systems are designed for older homes with limited space for conventional ductwork. They use flexible, small-diameter ducts that can be installed in existing walls, ceilings, or floors without the major structural modifications you’d have to get with a traditional central a/c unit. The high-velocity system delivers cooled air at a higher speed, providing consistent temperature throughout the house and minimizing temperature variations.

Window Units

For homeowners on a budget or with limited cooling needs, window air conditioning units offer a simple and affordable solution. These units are designed to fit into standard-sized windows and can be easily installed without significant alterations to the home. While they may not provide whole-house cooling, they work well for cooling specific rooms or areas, offering a convenient option for smaller spaces.


Ductless Air Conditioning for Older Homes

Ductless mini-split air conditioners are ideal for older homes without existing ductwork. They consist of an outdoor condenser unit connected to one or more indoor air handlers. These compact units offer zoned cooling, allowing homeowners to customize the temperature in different areas, providing energy efficiency and comfort without the need for extensive renovations. 

Easy Installation

Ductless systems are relatively easier to install than traditional central air conditioning, as they don't require ductwork. This eliminates the need for major structural modifications, preserving the home's original design and architecture.

Zoned Cooling

Ductless ACs allow for zoned cooling, meaning you can control the temperature in different rooms independently. This ensures personalized comfort and energy efficiency, as you can cool only the occupied areas, reducing wastage.

Energy Efficiency

Without ducts, there are no energy losses associated with air leaks or ductwork inefficiencies. Ductless systems also use inverter technology, adjusting the compressor's speed to match the cooling demand accurately, leading to reduced energy consumption and lower utility bills.

Improved Indoor Air Quality

Ductwork can accumulate dust, allergens, and other contaminants, affecting indoor air quality. You don't have to worry about airborne particles being circulated with ductless systems, making them an excellent choice for individuals with allergies or respiratory issues.

How We Install Ductless Air Conditioners In Your Old House

  • Evaluation: One of our HVAC professionals will assess your home's cooling needs and identify suitable locations for indoor and outdoor units.
  • Indoor Unit Installation: The indoor air handlers, usually mounted on walls or ceilings, are connected to the outdoor condenser via a small refrigerant line and electrical wiring.
  • Outdoor Unit Placement: The outdoor condenser is placed on a stable surface outside the home, often on brackets mounted on the wall or a concrete pad.
  • Refrigerant Lines: The refrigerant lines are carefully installed to connect the indoor and outdoor units, allowing heat transfer between them.
  • Electrical Connections: Electrical wiring is connected to the indoor and outdoor units to power the system.
  • Testing and Commissioning: After installation, the system is thoroughly tested to ensure proper functionality and optimal performance.


CroppMetcalfe has Air Conditioning Solutions for Your Old House

CroppMetcalfe has the solutions you need to preserve the integrity of your old house while staying cool and comfortable during the hot months. We can install, maintain, and repair any a/c system for maximum performance. And if you’re unsure what type of a/c will work best with your old house, we’ll help you find the best choice.


Call CroppMetcalfe today at 888-316-6918 or contact us online to schedule your in-home a/c assessment. 



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"I've been a CroppMetcalfe customer for 9 years and you have always provided outstanding service. I just had my semi-annual maintenance done, and I wanted to thank George for the truly outstanding service, professionalism, and excellent advice. He is definitely one of the best 5-Star Technicians I've had! Thank you CroppMetcalfe!"

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