How Long Do Central AC Units Last?

Presidential Heating & Air Conditioning

Gaithersburg HVAC Contractors


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a central AC unit that has lasted a very long timeWe are well into summer and your air conditioning unit is getting a workout. No matter how new or old it is, you wonder how long it will last. If you’ve had it for a long time, you may have had some costly repairs just to get it through another hot season.

So, again this year, you wonder how much longer your AC unit will last. It’s a tough question to answer because many factors are involved.

Average Lifespan of Central AC Units

The lifespan of a central air conditioner will vary depending on certain conditions that could extend or shorten its lifespan. Generally speaking, however, an air conditioner should last 15 to 20 years under normal conditions.

“Normal conditions” refers to keeping the unit well-maintained. Not doing this can even cause you to start having problems within a few years of buying a new unit. Once you’ve had your air conditioner for about ten years, it’s probably time to start getting yourself ready for the possibility. After ten years, your unit is much more likely to need additional repairs and it’s more likely to start becoming less efficient.

Other Factors to Consider

air conditioning contractor working on replacing a unitThere are various measures you can take to help keep your air conditioner run for a long time. Keep in mind, there are some things that you don’t have as much control over; for instance, air conditioners generally have to be replaced more often in coastal cities. Here are some factors that affect how long your air conditioner lasts:

  • Maintenance – Your air conditioner is just like any other machine you have that takes routine care to perform its best. You regularly take your car in for an oil change and get it inspected by an auto mechanic to identify potential problems. An air conditioner also needs maintenance checks by an expert to ensure it’s running as efficiently as possible.Have your system checked at least on an annual basis to spot problems before they happen. You should also change your filters out each quarter to avoid dust and other particles from building up and having a negative effect on its performance.
  • Conditions of operating – Your air conditioner’s lifespan will be shorter the more often it is used. So if you’re running it all the time, it will effectively knock years off its life, and your energy bills will be high. If you live in an area where there are greater levels of air pollution, its lifespan will also be impacted. Try to manage the temperature in your home so that it’s not used as often when you’re not there or during nighttime.
  • The quality of your system – You get what you pay for with most things. Air conditioners are no different. It will be worth it to choose an air conditioner that comes from a manufacturer that is reliable and has a good reputation. Keep up your maintenance with your existing air conditioner. If you do, your AC will last for a long time.
  • How the system was installed – A central air conditioner that wasn’t properly installed will cause you problems in the long run. Your unit will have added pressure and strain from a poor installation job. This will cause it to break down or malfunction. That’s a really frustrating and costly problem to have. When you hire a company for an HVAC installation, be sure to find one that has a great reputation where customers have been happy overall with the quality of their work.
  • How the system is sized – One of the most important aspects of an air conditioner is getting the right size for your home. A system that is too small will have to work harder to cool your home down. And if it’s too big, it won’t function efficiently either. Both of these sizing issues will lead to breakdowns and a shorter lifespan. This is an issue that has led many homeowners to prematurely replace their unit.

When Should I Replace My Central AC Unit?

central air conditioning unit being repaired after getting damagedThere are some signs to look for once your air conditioner is over ten years old that may indicate that it’s time to replace it. If your air conditioner needs more repairs than usual, the costs can really start to add up. When the repairs are about the quarter of the cost of getting a new air conditioner, you should think about a replacement. Certain parts, like a broken motor, compressor, or coil, make a replacement a better solution from a cost perspective.

Another indicator to look for is when your energy bills are running higher than normal. Air conditioners become less efficient as time goes by, so when you see a sudden increase in energy use when your use has stayed about the same, it might be time to consider a replacement. In the long run, the cost of replacing your air conditioner will be made up in the energy savings you realize. Your energy use could be reduced by 20 to 50 percent when you switch to a high-efficiency unit.

Speak with Presidential Heat and Air for More Information

If you’re trying to consider whether it’s time to replace your air conditioner or get it fixed, we can help. Our experts at Presidential Heating and Air can show you all the options, so you can weigh them accordingly. A new air conditioner is an expensive decision and we are committed to providing you with the right advice. Schedule a consultation today and let us check out your HVAC system.

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