How Long do AC Units Last

What Is the Typical Lifespan of AC Units in Hot Climates?

With the heat of a typical summer, air conditioning is almost mandatory in today’s world. Homeowners in this part of the country run their AC units for more hours every day and more days in a year than property owners in cooler regions. That means our AC units are working harder and longer, which usually means they wear out faster.

AC units are expensive. So, it’s a good idea to know the typical lifespan of an air conditioner in the Southwest USA so you can start to budget for your current unit’s replacement.

The Typical Lifespan of an Air Conditioner

In most parts of the country, a typical AC unit can last 15 to 20 years. However, due to the higher temperatures and constant use, the same unit may only last 12 to 15 years in dry weather regions like Arizona or Nevada.

Does that mean your air conditioner will last 15 years? Not necessarily. The actual lifespan of any AC unit varies depending on its location, model, and maintenance history, as well as a few other factors.

The Many Factors That Can Affect Your AC Unit’s Lifespan

Let’s look at several factors that can enhance or detract from your air conditioner’s lifespan. They’ll give you a better idea of when your AC will need to be replaced.

Whether Your AC Unit is Properly Sized

Air conditioners come in different sizes to allow them to cool different sized homes efficiently. Sizing an AC unit takes a few things into consideration, such as the square footage of the home, how many stories it has, and low long the air duct runs will be.

In the past, it was common practice to install AC units that were too large for the home. Known as “overtonning”, this practice was quite common a decade or two ago. The problem with running an oversized AC unit is that it cycles on and off more frequently. This cause it to break down more often.

An air conditioning unit sized correctly to your home will usually last longer than an oversized (or undersized) one.

Proper Maintenance

AC units are mechanical by nature. Much like a car, they need regular maintenance to ensure they run efficiently and require minimal repairs.

Air conditioning specialists recommend having your system serviced at least once a year, usually in the spring. This helps keep it functioning properly and makes it less likely to need a repair in the middle of the summer.

The bonus of regular maintenance is it will significantly increase the usable life of the system and parts like capacitors. Spotting problems early prevents excessive wear and tear. Keeping the unit properly tuned helps it run efficiently throughout the summer.

Air Ducts in Good Repair

For the AC unit to do its job efficiently and with minimal wear and tear, your home’s air ducts need to be in good repair. If the ductwork is dirty or has leaks, it causes the air conditioner to have to work that much harder. This decreases its lifespan and also drives up your energy costs.

Keeping your ducts in good repair requires regular cleaning and inspections.

Setting the Temperature Too Low

Temperatures can easily soar to over 110 degrees here in states like California, Georgia, Florida and Arizona. You should expect your AC unit to keep the inside temperature between 30 and 40 degrees cooler than the outside. So, on a day when its around 115 degrees, the inside temperature should be between 75 and 85 degrees.

If you decide to lower the temperature beyond that, you are making the air conditioner work that much harder, which wears it out faster.

How to Prolong Your Air Conditioner’s Lifespan

With proper care and maintenance, your AC can last 15 years or more. A few simple steps can make all the difference. To make it last longer, have the AC serviced in the spring. Also, get the ducts cleaned and in good repair. When it’s time to replace your old unit, make sure the new one is properly sized to your home. Adjust the thermostat as recommended.