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How Long Do Air Conditioners Last?

HVAC service

As summer months quickly approach, the last thing homeowners want is an air conditioner malfunction leading to expensive air conditioning repair.

We often take air conditioning for granted, but this luxury wasn’t always around. When air conditioners finally did become more common in American homes during the mid-20th century, they were inefficient and had shorter lifespans than more advanced models.

The temperatures are rising outside, which means your air conditioner will be especially vulnerable to wear and tear as it works in overdrive to cool your home.  This brings the question “how long do air conditioners last” to the forefront of many homeowners’ minds as they plan for the inevitable eventual system failure of their HVAC unit.

How Long Do Air Conditioners Last?

Although there is no definitive duration of time that an air conditioner should be expected to work, the typical life expectancy of an air conditioner is anywhere between 10 and 20 years. This disparity can stem from a number of factors that affect the air conditioning system.

There are numerous variables that can help to prolong the life of your air conditioner or have it prematurely cut short. The biggest determinant of how long air conditioners last is whether or not the homeowner decides to repair the AC unit when a major problem arises or determines that it’s more cost effective to replace the unit altogether.

Every homeowner, especially after consulting a professional HVAC technician should be able to determine whether their AC unit has a few more years of life or whether it’s time for an upgrade. However, with proper maintenance, a high-efficiency air conditioner should last around 15 years.

Factors That Impact The Lifespan Of Your Air Conditioner

Just like many other items around your home, your air conditioning system will occasionally need a seasonal tune-up to make sure it’s healthy. Minor replacements and repairs are common throughout the lifespan of your air conditioner, but a few factors could speed up the wear and tear on your unit. Here are a few factors that affect the lifespan of your air conditioner:

  • Installation quality and proper sizing. The lifespan of a central cooling unit could be significantly reduced if its capacity is too limited or overqualified to handle the cooling load of the home. Oversized air conditioners will turn on and off rapidly, a process called short-cycling, which causes excessive wear on the compressor. An air conditioner that is too small will have to run constantly to be able to effectively cool the large space.
  • Air quality and humidity levels. If the atmosphere around your home contains hints of salty sea air or other airborne corrosives, your air conditioner is much more likely to sustain wear and tear over a period of time. The components are likely to be rusted or more susceptible to breaking if it is exposed to harmful elements for an extended period of time.
  • Amount of preventative upkeep and maintenance. With the proper amount of regular maintenance, your air conditioning unit can last much longer than the average AC unit. By signing up for a maintenance plan, you will automatically receive annual service to boost your AC system’s energy efficiency, keep your air quality pure, and ensure all components are functioning properly. A qualified HVAC technician will be able to identify issues with the compressor, evaporator coils, fan, etc. The preventative upkeep can prevent small problems from turning into bigger more expensive issues down the road.

How Much Does It Cost To Replace An AC Unit?

Replacing your air conditioner typically costs between $3,350 and $5,912. On average, most U.S. homeowners report spending $4,631 to install a new AC unit into a forced air HVAC system.

Less pricey options include single window units or portable units ranging from $234 to $700 or ductless mini splits ranging from $660 to $4,500. Only a trusted local HVAC company can give a true estimate of what the total cost of replacing an AC unit will be.

If your AC system has reached 75% of its projected life expectancy and you’re replacing a repair equivalent to more than a third of your system’s total replacement cost, then the general rule of thumb is to replace your AC unit.

John C. Flood Will Keep You Cool, No Matter How Long Your AC Unit Lasts

Although no AC unit will last forever, John C. Flood will answer “when should I replace my air conditioner?” With regular service appointments through our Service Partner Program, our team can increase the longevity of your air conditioning system and provide air conditioning repair when necessary.

When your air conditioner is finally ready for an upgrade, our team can provide the most competitive price to upgrade your AC unit to a more energy efficient model. To receive regular maintenance or get emergency air conditioning service, call (703) 752-1266 or contact us online.