Home Additions & Remodels: Extending Existing HVAC Ducts vs. Installing a Separate System

best buy heating and air home addition hvac tips

Are you a homeowner in Northern Colorado considering doing a home remodel or addition?

If so, congratulations! Remodels and additions are great ways to breathe new life into your living space. However, we have a bit of advice about something important that many homeowners don’t initially consider: your HVAC system and the demands that a home addition can place on it.

If improperly implemented, your remodel or addition can overtax your heating and cooling system, ultimately costing you much more than is necessary in the long run. In today’s post, we’ll go over some of the most important things you need to know about HVAC and your home remodels or additions.

Let’s dig in by laying a little groundwork:

Clarifying Definitions: Home Additions vs. Remodels

home addition separate hvac

Something to be clear about is the difference between home additions and home remodels. Sometimes the terms are used interchangeably, so there’s a little bit of imprecision that we should clear up:

If you’re doing a home remodel that does not involve adding or expanding any new spaces into your home (e.g., a bathroom remodel where you’re putting down new tile, installing a new tub, or generally just making the space more modern and pleasant), then your currently existing HVAC system should be able to handle things just the same as before—assuming it was doing a good job in the first place, of course.

On the other hand, a home addition involves the expansion of a new space in the home, such as the addition of a new room or living space. These are the kinds of situations where you may run into trouble, because if your currently existing HVAC system can’t handle the extra space, you’re not likely to enjoy the proper amount of temperature regulation in not only the new area, but possibly other areas of the home as well.

Let’s dig down a little deeper on your options for handling HVAC for a home addition:

Extending Your Existing Ductwork or Installing a Secondary HVAC System

Generally speaking, a home addition gives you two options for heating and air: extending your already existing HVAC ductwork so that it can reach the new area, or installing a secondary means of temperature regulation.

It seems obvious that the cheaper option between the two would be to simply extend your ductwork into the new space, however, this can actually be quite a costly mistake over time. If your current HVAC system isn’t powerful enough to provide temperature regulation in the new area of the home, it will become “stretched too thin.”

In other words, the system will work harder to heat and cool your home and the newly added space. This can dramatically reduce efficiency and result in hot or cold areas not only in the new home addition, but throughout the rest of the home as well. If your HVAC system just doesn’t have the “oomph” for the new square footage, even the best air balancing techniques won’t resolve the issue.

Getting a Handle on BTUs & Square Footage

extending hvac ductwork FAQ

To understand whether or not an HVAC system is powerful enough to accommodate a home addition, you have to start thinking in terms of British Thermal Units (BTUs) and square footage.

In other words, does your HVAC system produce enough BTUs of heating or cooling power to regulate the temperature of the new area and the rest of the home? To give you a rough idea, the average 1,500 – 2,000 square foot home will require somewhere in the neighborhood of 30,000 – 34,000 BTUs for optimal comfort.

Having said all of that, the easiest and most accurate way to determine the feasibility of simple duct expansion vs. installing a secondary unit will be to have an energy audit performed by an HVAC expert (like us!). A trained professional will be able to evaluate your current HVAC system and whether or not it can handle the new space.

Better yet, just talk with a specialist about your addition/remodeling plans during an annual checkup for your HVAC system, because…

Home Remodels or Additions are The Perfect Time for an HVAC Checkup

Remodeling or building a home addition is an excellent time for an HVAC checkup, which is something you should be doing every year anyway. The cost savings are absolutely worth it. For more information, check out our post The Real Benefit of HVAC Maintenance is in the Numbers: How to Save Thousands.

Using the word “thousands” there isn’t hyperbole—over the years, we’ve helped countless Northern Colorado homeowners save that much and more on their heating and cooling costs. If you’re ready to do your home addition the right way, please feel warmly invited to contact us with your questions or request a service call.

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