Exploring New Home Construction

Thinking Of Adding Air Conditioning To Your Rental Units? Consider These Challenges

Adding air conditioning to your rental units can be a great way to attract more tenants, particularly if you're in an area where the summers are hot. Residents will appreciate not having to reinstall a window air conditioner each spring or having to sweat through the hottest nights. However, there are some challenges that can come up when you begin the process of adding air conditioning to the building. By preparing for those challenges in advance, you make facing them easier. Here's a look at some of the challenges you're likely to face -- and advice for dealing with them.

Needing to have the ductwork altered.

If your building is older, your HVAC contractor may find that the existing ductwork is not extensive enough, or is not set up in the correct manner, to cool the building adequately and evenly. Having the ductwork altered can be a challenge, since it will often require that the contractor access many of the units in the building. If your contractor informs you that your ducts need altering, here are a few tips for dealing with this situation:

Ask if there is a way to make the system work with the existing ductwork. Sometimes (but not always), installing slightly larger units may be a viable alternative. You may pay more upfront for these units, but this tends to be less hassle than changing around ductwork.

If you do need to have the ducts altered, distribute a notice to all tenants whose units will be involved. Give them a list of days, and have them check off days that they would prefer the work be done. Then, try to choose a day that works for the largest number of tenants. Make sure you give your tenants the required notice -- typically 24 hours, though more is preferred -- before entering their units. Ensure that the contractors clean up any dust and debris left in your tenants' units, or have your own maintenance team do this.

Dealing with tenants who "don't want" air conditioning.

When you inform your tenants that you'll be installing air conditioning, there may be some who are opposed to the change because they fear it will raise their rent or they'll have to pay higher electric bills. You can deal with this situation by telling your tenants that their rent won't rise until the end of the lease, and by telling them immediately how much rent will be when it is time to renew the lease. This way, they'll know whether they can afford to stay or not, and they have plenty of time to make plans.

Inform tenants who are afraid of higher electric bills that they will have their own thermostat and that they can elect not to turn the air conditioning on if they wish.

Handling tenant complains about the air conditioning once it has been installed.

Once the air conditioning is up and running, you will have to make a plan for handling tenant concerns and complaints about the system. You may want to make up a sheet that you give to tenants ahead of time with basic operational information such as

  • How to operate their thermostat.
  • The importance of making sure their vents are not blocked so the room can cool evenly.
  • How long to wait for the room to cool before deciding the AC is not working. (Your HVAC tech can tell you this based on the system.)

This will reduce the number of times that you receive calls from residents who claim their air conditioning is malfunctioning when really it is not.

By planning for any necessary ductwork changes, dealing with tenants who don't want AC, and planning how you'll address complaints about the system, you'll ensure the process of installing and setting up your air conditioning in your apartment building goes more smoothly. For more information on installing air conditioning, talk to a professional HVAC business like Aggressive Mechanical Contractors.