Can You Put An Air Handler In The Attic?

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There’s no denying that the climate is changing drastically with time. Thanks to global warming, we’re experiencing new highs and lows in temperature – and it can be challenging to adjust.

Luckily, technology has given us air handlers, making it easier for us to survive in the heat or the cold.

Air handlers provide an excellent solution to dealing with changing temperatures without having to pay exorbitant electricity bills.

If you’re looking to install an air handler in your house or want to know what they are, keep reading! 

Can you Put an Air Handler in the Attic?

No, you shouldn’t be putting your air handler in the attic. Why? Well, attics are tight and small, or they are spacey but packed with unused junk. Putting an air handler in this space is the equivalent of throwing money out the window.

This is because air handlers generate a lot of heat. They need to be placed in cool areas so that the environment can help the device cool down rather than overheat.

Another reason is that attic ducts often leak. You might think you’ve covered all your bases, and there’s no leakage, but new leaks can easily occur without anyone knowing.

So it is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to putting your air handler in the attic.

What is an Air Handler?

An air handler is a device that is used to regulate and circulate air. It is used as a part of a heating unit, ventilation system, and air-conditioning system. 

One could describe it as a large metal box containing heating and/or cooling elements, a blower, chambers or filter racks, sound attenuators, and dampers.

Altogether, they work to create a good airway throughout the room they’re is placed in.

What does an Air Handler do?

An air handler circulates air throughout the home. The air handler pulls in the air from the room and passes it towards the coils.

The coils either cool or heat the air, and then the blower mechanism pushes the now cooled or heated air back out through the air ducts. 

What is the Difference Between an Air Conditioner and an Air Handler?

People often think that an air conditioner and an air handler are the same things. This is not true, the two systems are entirely different, and they function differently. However, they both work to control and regulate the temperatures of your home. 

An air handler is more of a condensation unit, which puts pressure on air until it liquefies and cools so that it can be transferred back to the room. They are most often found in a refrigerator, and the liquefied air is turned into gas through an evaporator coil.

Air handlers can be found in various commodities like furnaces, heat burners, refrigerators, and air conditioners. 

An air conditioner, on the other hand, can run on a gas furnace easily. The gas furnace uses natural gas to produce heat or cool air. While the air handler in an air conditioner uses an electric heating strip to do the same.

HVAC experts believe that it is a good idea to merge air conditioners with air handlers. This is because the air handler allows for air regulation and balancing of the room temperature. They are also more affordable and can help with decreasing gas bills.

Should the Air Handler be Placed in the Attic or the Basement?

The basement is the best place to install your air handler. It has more space, no leakage problems, and no overheating issues.

Basements often have a cool quality, while attics are humid as they are closer to the sun. Air handlers should always be put in cool places so that their own emitted heat cannot harm the equipment itself. 

Many experts say that putting your air handler in the basement will lead to fewer house repairs and a lesser need for maintenance. Compared to reports about air handlers in the attic, which show leaky floors, over-heating, and other issues, basement plans are a Godsend. 

How Big of an Air Handler do I Need?

Once you’ve decided to buy an air handler, you need to figure out what size you’re going to buy. There are 2 basic steps that you need to follow. The steps require attention to detail, and as long as you provide that, you’ll be absolutely fine.

Step 1: Determine Number of BTUs of Heating And Number Of AC Tons

There are two methods that you can do this by, and they are as follows:

#1 Manual J Calculation

One of the best and most common ways to decide the perfect air handler unit size is by doing a Manual J calculation on your house. It gives the most precise measurement possible by considering the following factors:

  • Climate zone
  • Square foot
  • Ductwork
  • Natural shade
  • Sunlight
  • Number of windows
  • Style of windows
  • Quality of insulation
  • Amount of insulation
  • Number of people in the house
  • Heat generating appliances

If you’re worried about doing this calculation yourself, many companies will do it for you free of cost. All you have to do is ask. If not, you can always hire an HVAC dealer who can help you.

With the help of this report, you can easily calculate the BTUs, i.e., British Thermal Units you need for heating and cooling in your home.

#2 Square Foot Measurements

 Another easy way to make this calculation is by considering your house’s square footage. Here’s a chart that will help give you a general guideline. 

Once you’ve estimated the proper amount of BTUs, you need to go out and buy an air handler to cool or heat your home.

Step 2: Buy An Air Handler Unit

The best route is to go to an HVAC dealer and first learn about all the different heating and cooling products. Tell them your BTU requirements, and ask them to tell you which air handler fits it best. 

Here’s a pro tip!

Buying an air handler that’s a little bigger than what you need is a good thing. It will ensure that your system will handle the long days when the temperature is at extremes. If your unit is too small, you might come to regret it.

But beware, a bigger unit might heat or cool your house too quickly, and it can shut off suddenly. 

Pros and Cons of Having the AC Handler in the Attic

Choosing whether or not to put your AC handler in the attic can be a tricky decision. Here are some pros and cons that you should consider.

1. Easy to Cool High Levels

One of the best advantages of keeping your air handler in the attic is that it makes it easier to cool the house’s upper stories. If the air handler is not in the attic, regulating and circulating the air in the upper levels is difficult and challenging. The attic installation helps to spread cool or warm air evenly throughout the house. 

On the other hand, if the attic is too warm, the air handler can overheat and shut down. So it is important to be careful that the air handler’s space is cool and not too warm.

2. Energy Bills Are Reduced

Another great pro of installing the air handler in the attic is the reduction in utility bills. Since the home is cooled evenly from top to bottom, the air handler doesn’t have to work hard. As it would have to in other areas of the house. This leads to a bill reduction.

Although once again, if the air handler is overheated, this could cause fluctuations in energy usage and lead to increased bills as well. So be careful to buy an air handler that can handle this.

3. Proper Installation is Required

Last but certainly not least, if you’ve decided to install an air handler in the attic, make sure that the installation is done by a professional.

Without proper installation, multiple leakages in the attic could occur, which will lead to all the cool air being lost. It will also cause excess moisture and can cause problems in the flooring of the attic. 

This can easily be prevented by getting professional help and regular maintenance. 

What is the Best Location for an Air Handler?

The absolute best place to install your air handler is somewhere cool and shaded. As long as these requirements are met, your air handler is in great hands.

A cool and shaded place ensures that overheating will not occur. It also ensures that the air handler doesn’t have to work twice as hard to cool its surrounding before cooling the rest of the house. 

How Long should an Air Handler Last?

The lifespan of an average, good-quality air handler is around 10 to 15 years – only if you take proper care of the air handler. This means installing it in a good, cool, shaded place, giving it a proper professional installation, and providing regular maintenance. 

If you do not do this, your air handler will probably die within 2 to 3 years. 

How Much will an Air Handler in the Attic Cost?

Depending on the model and brand of air handler you buy, the price will vary. The average price of a good quality air handler is approximately $700 to $900. However, this price can also easily reach $1200 to $1800, depending on the brand. 

This is why it’s a good idea to have proper information on the air handler you are buying before actually buying it. Get your money’s worth by ensuring the product you are buying is worth the investment you are making in it.

How to Install an Air Handler in the Attic?

Installing an air handler in the attic is easy. Just call up an HVAC professional, and they will guide you through it. If you want to save yourself the hassle, you can always hire them to do it for you. 

While installing the air handler, you must make sure that the attic is not vented. A vented attic is not a good place for an air handler, as it keeps warm air in rather than out.

How to Remove the Air Handler from the Attic?

Removing air handlers from the attic is easier than installing them. All you need to do is disconnect the wires, overhaul the equipment, and you’re done.

However, this might sound very easy. It can be a little tricky, so it’s a good idea to get a professional opinion or help.

Insulating Air Handler in the Attic

There should be insulation between and over the floor joints for attics, and you might consider insulating the rafters as well.

If your HVAC dealer recommends it, they also insulate the knee walls, i.e., the space directly behind the walls. Don’t forget to insulate the attic hatch door, either. 

Why is this Important?

Well, if you live in a warm climate, the insulation will help protect your air handler from overheating. You might also consider installing a radiant barrier. The insulation installations will also help cut down on utility and maintenance costs.

Conclusion

We’ve given you all the information you could need in regards to air handlers. They’re small yet extremely useful pieces of equipment that everyone needs in their homes.

The warm temperatures are increasing, and so are the colder ones. To help regulate the temperature of our homes, air handlers have become a necessity. 

And to make sure that you buy the correct air handler, follow the guidelines and warnings we’ve listed above. As long as you do, trust us, you’ll be just fine.

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