How Long Do AC Units Last?
What would we do without our AC units? They keep us from practically melting into the furniture!
A well-maintained whole-home AC unit should, according to industry standards last on average about 15-years, improving the air quality inside your home and making it more livable on those sweltering summer days. But even the most well-cared-for of AC units will eventually need replacement. So, how long should you expect a central AC unit to last?
The Short Answer? It Depends
When it comes to knowing how long central AC units last, there’s quite a few different factors that can influence the answer. First and foremost, it depends on what kind of air conditioner you have. Window units, for example, are going to wear down at a different pace than a central air conditioning system. Additionally, the amount you use your AC unit, plus whether you do any regular maintenance on that unit, are also going to have an effect on how long your AC unit lasts.
Finally, and this is something that’s often overlooked, is how your local environment can impact the life expectancy of your AC unit. If you live somewhere that experiences high levels of humid weather, your AC unit often needs to work harder than if you lived in a climate that’s less humid. Additionally, air quality plays a role in how long your AC unit will last, such as if your air has a high level of pollutants. This could expose your AC unit to additional wear and tear that they wouldn’t otherwise experience.
The Life Expectancy of Central Air Conditioner Units
Now that we’ve touched on all the different factors that go into how long a typical central AC unit will last before needing replacement, let’s take a closer look at the life expectancy of each type of AC unit. Because they do last so long, central AC units, when installed and maintained properly, are an excellent investment. In general, central air conditioners can last anywhere from 10 to 15 years depending on the above factors.
Central air also needs some extra thought, though, especially if it stops working. Depending on its age, it might make more financial sense to replace a system instead of having it repaired. If your central air unit is already 10 years old or more, it might be more cost-effective to replace the entire unit instead of spending money on repairs and then buying a whole new unit in just another few years anyway.
How Long Do Window AC Units Last?
Window AC units, as the other main style of air conditioning units that homeowners use, don’t necessarily last quite as long as a central air unit. In fact, most window AC units will need to be replaced every 8 to 10 years, as they’re simply not as durable, nor as powerful, as their larger counterparts.
However, window units are smaller than a typical central air system. They’re also less expensive as a result, which means that when your window AC unit fails, it’s usually more cost-effective to simply replace it instead of repairing it, especially if it’s getting up there in age.
Ways to Keep your AC Units Running Well for Longer
Money doesn’t grow on trees, of course, so it’s always in your best interest to keep your AC unit in good condition so you get the most out of it before having to replace it. Routine maintenance can help those units last longer and work better even as they begin to reach their maximum life expectancy, and there are many ways to do so that don’t take much in the way of time and resources.
Here are some tips for getting the most out of your AC’s lifespan:
Clean the air filters
Window units typically allow the front panel to be removed, providing access to its internal filter for cleaning. Be sure to do so periodically. The filter for a central air system is usually located in your ductwork; these filters are much larger and may require the assistance of a professional to change them out.
Winterize your AC units
Once cold weather sets in, it’s likely to be several months before you’ll need it again. Remove window units and place them someplace dry and safe so they won’t be exposed to the elements for months on end – or at the very least, cover the outside portion of your window unit with a protective cover. Central air winterization involves much of the same – as the outside component of your AC unit isn’t removable, be sure to cover it with an appropriate winter cover – and don’t forget to clean out any sticks, leaves, or dirt that might have accumulated inside.
Make it easy for your AC unit
Help your system cool your home. For example, keep your window shades and curtains drawn during the hottest, sunniest parts of the day and keep your windows closed when your unit is running. Also, don’t run your AC when you don’t need to. For window units, you’ll have to adjust the settings manually, but for central air units, invest in a programmable thermostat that has an outdoor temperature reading as well to control when you cool your home.
And perhaps most importantly, if you have a central air system, schedule regular professional maintenance at least once a year. The spring is often the best time to have this maintenance done, as you’re more likely to catch potential problems before it gets hot enough to require your AC unit. The last thing you want is a nasty surprise on the hottest day of the year because your unit needed to be maintained but you didn’t get it done in time!
While this may feel like an additional cost, it ends up saving in the long run. Having an expert check and tune-up you’re your central ac unit can help it last longer, and help you avoid expensive emergency repairs.
Overall, expect your units to last around a decade depending on outside factors, and maintain your system to keep it running longer.
You may even want to invest in a maintenance service plan, to ensure you’re getting the best cost for the maintenance needed to keep your system running the longest. Most service plans will also provide more flexible scheduling and 24/7 emergency service if needed.