13 May

How Long Your Air Conditioner Should Last – And When You Should Replace It

As we get closer to summer, there is a lot to plan for – vacations, cookouts, outdoor activities, and the list goes on. But before the fun starts, one area you don’t want to overlook is making sure your air conditioner is ready. The last thing you want is for your AC to die on you in the middle of the summer during the hottest months.

Scheduling yearly maintenance and tune-ups are very important, but even the best-cared-for ACs don’t last forever. So the million dollar (or in this case, the few-thousand-dollar question) is: how long does an air conditioner last?

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The average service life of a home air conditioner

let’s start with the simple answer. For the typical home, most air conditioning systems should last between 15 and 20 years.

however, there are a handful of factors that can reduce the service life of your AC.

  1. Location and outdoor elements – By location, we mean both the climate that you live in and where the air conditioner is installed outside of your home. The more the unit is exposed to harsh weather or can get clogged by dirt or other debris, the shorter its lifespan will likely be.
  2. Quality of equipment and installation – Going with a cheaper but less reliable brand can seem like a good idea at the time, but you may end up paying more in the long run. Lower-quality brands typically need to be replaced sooner than reputable ones. At the same time, having a qualified HVAC professional install your AC will ensure that the unit, ventilation, and ductwork are all installed properly – otherwise you may run into costly issues down the road.
  3. Size of system – If your system is too small or too large for the space in your home, it won’t work as effectively or efficiently as its designed. This leads to more wear and tear over time.
  4. Preventative maintenance – Neglecting regular maintenance tasks such as replacing the air filter and cleaning the air coils can make your unit work harder and reduce its service life.
  5. Type of refrigerant – Beginning January 2020, a federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation will stop the production of Freon (R22 refrigerant). If your AC was installed before 2010, it likely uses Freon. Once this type of refrigerant is phased out, the cost of repairing your unit will increase.

Deciding whether to repair or replace your air conditioner

If you have an older air conditioner, it can be difficult to know if it’s smarter to repair your current unit or upgrade to a new one.

A good rule of thumb for making this decision is the $5,000 rule. You take the age of your air conditioner and multiply it by the cost of the repair you need. If the total is above $5,000, you’re probably better off replacing the unit. However, if the total is below $5,000, it makes more financial sense to repair it this time. For example, if your air conditioner is 10 years old and it requires a repair of $550, the calculation comes to $5,500. So the rule suggests it’s time for a new unit.

We hope this information helps you plan ahead and have your air conditioning set for a cool, comfortable summer. Whether you need AC maintenance or decide it’s time to replace your old system, trust the experts at Robert B. Payne, Inc. For a free estimate, call us today at (540) 373-5876.