The air conditioner in your home or office may do a fantastic job keeping the environment cool and comfy. But as strong and durable as air conditioners are, they are not built to last forever. Some HVAC professionals even tell customers that they can extend the life of the unit with proper care and regular maintenance.

Perhaps the air conditioning system has been around for a while, and you’re a bit worried that it may breakdown at any time. This is normal for homeowners and businesses, especially if there are signs that the AC is on its way out. As you continue reading, you may get a better idea of how long your air conditioner should last, signs of an old unit, and what to do before or when it goes out.

What is the Average Lifespan of an Air Conditioner?

The split system and the packaged system are the two general types of air conditioners. HVAC experts say their average lifespan is 10 to 15 years. Depending on the make, model, and care during its lifetime, the unit may push through 15 to 20 years. However, various factors can reduce that lifespan or help you to predict how long the air conditioner will last. They include:

#1: The Unit Size

The size of the air conditioning system helps to determine how it will function. An undersized or oversized air conditioner can reduce efficiency. If the unit to too big, it can short cycle and fail to properly dehumidify the home before going through the full cooling cycle. While providing fast comfort, starting up and shutting down quickly, only wear out the unit before its time.

#2: Poor Quality or Installation

It goes without saying that a better quality air conditioner will likely function more efficiently. The more technologically advanced it is, the better it should run. But even a good quality unit can fail to provide good service if it was not installed by an HVAC expert. An inexperienced installer may make technical mistakes that can shorten the life of the air conditioning system.

#3: Operating Conditions

The location of the system is another factor that plays into the lifespan. Prolonged exposure to debris and harsh weather can lead to rapid wear and tear of the air conditioning system. An outdoor air conditioning unit may get clogged easily, which then forces it to work harder to cool the home. The harder it works, the more the wear and tear and the likelihood of repairs or premature replacement.

#4: Lack of Maintenance

Your unit is estimated to last for about 15 to 20 years. Regular or preventative maintenance helps to keep it running smoothly and prolongs the life of the system. Otherwise, you may find yourself frequently calling in an HVAC technician to do repairs or needing to buy a new air conditioner sooner than expected.

When Does Replacing Your Air Conditioner Make Better Sense?

Some homeowners may decide to repair an old air conditioning system to save money on upgrading or buying a new one. This only costs more in the long run, particularly for units that were around for more than 15 years.

When talking dollars and cents, it may be less costly to replace the unit for a more energy-efficient system if, for example, the cost of a repair is more than 50% of the cost for a new one. More frequent repairs are needed, and costs usually increase the older the AC gets. As such, a homeowner could easily spend the total cost of a new air conditioner after 2 to 3 repairs.

Energy.gov reports that the best air conditioners available today use 30% to 50% less energy to cool the same space compared to air conditioners made in the mid-1970s. You can save 20% to 40% of your cooling energy costs even if your unit is ten years old by swapping it out for a newer, more efficient model.

 Air Conditioning Lifespan - How Long Should My Air Conditioner Last

Signs Your Air Conditioning Unit is Going Out

Air conditioners always exhibit signs when in need of repairs or replacement. Pay attention to the following signs as they may mean the equipment is about to conk out:

Poor airflow: Debris may be stuck in the AC vents, or the compressor may be failing.
There is no cool air: This could happen if the AC system’s refrigerant levels are too low or the compressor is not working.
Blowing hot air: Hot air may come through the vents if the compressor is broken or the system is leaking refrigerant.
A foul smell: A burned-out wire insulation usually causes a strong, pungent odor when you turn on your air conditioner.
Strange sounds: For example, a squealing, grating, or grinding sound coming from the equipment may mean something inside is damaged.
The unit leaks refrigerant: A broken or blocked condensate line may lead to leaking refrigerant or moisture around the unit.
High electricity bills: An older air conditioning system usually pulls more energy to cool down the rooms. A telltale sign of this is a spike in your energy bills.

What to Look for When Replacing Your AC

Central air conditioners get their rating based on their seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER). SEER the amount of energy the unit requires to reach a certain cooling temperature. Newer systems have a SEER rating higher than six, which means it is far more efficient than older systems. The better it functions, the longer the lifespan. Therefore, efficiency should be a primary factor when choosing an air conditioning system.

Also, Affordable Comfort Air Conditioning reccomends to look for one with these features:

Runs quietly
Has a filter check light to remind you when to change the filter
Fitted with a thermal expansion valve so the unit can maintain efficiency in extremely hot weather
A fan-only switch which allows you to use the unit for ventilation at night and reduce energy costs
A delay fan switch that automatically turns off the fan shortly after the compressor shuts off

Call in your HVAC professional

If you’re worried that your air conditioner is old and needs repairing or replacing, you can talk to a certified HVAC expert near you. The technician will come to your home and inspect the equipment as well as run a full system performance test. Based on the diagnosis, you can repair the AC or decide on a new installation.

While repairs may seem to be the cheaper way out, think about the money you’ll save when you install a new air conditioning system. Therefore, a good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if it’s worth investing in repairs.

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