How Long Should an Air Conditioner Last?

How Long Should an Air Conditioner Last

When you first purchased your home, the inspection report listed your AC system as being old and outdated. Is it less effective than you think it should be? Does this mean you need to purchase a new one? How long should an air conditioner last, anyway?


There are several factors that impact your HVAC system and its lifespan. Some of these factors are out of your control. However, you can make your system last longer if you’re diligent with maintenance.


But first, let’s find out what the experts say about the lifespan of the average AC unit.

Typical AC Lifespan

Opinions on the lifespan of the average air conditioner vary depending on who you ask. The US Department of Energy (DOE) claims that well-tended air conditioners last up to 20 years. Many manufacturers state that you should consider replacing your air conditioner after only 15 years.

You can nurse an AC system along for up to 30 years, but they lose efficiency with age. Weigh this degradation against consistent improvements in technology and changing building standards. Eventually, it becomes clear that an old AC unit is more expensive to run than purchasing a new one.

Replace or Repair; That is the Question

The DOE also states that homeowners save from 20 to 40 percent in energy costs by replacing a unit that’s only 10 years old. It’s up to each family to decide if the cost is worth the savings.

However, remember that replacing an old unit also adds value to your home. As well as cutting your energy bill, a new air conditioner also increases your home’s worth.

Signs of Imminent AC Failure

Along with age, there are distinct ways to determine if your AC unit needs replacement. If any of these situations arise, it’s time to start shopping for a new one:

Won’t hit temperature

Your air conditioner is designed to run until it senses that it has achieved the temperature you’ve set on the thermostat. As long as you’re setting it at a reasonable point, your system should be able to reach that mark and shut off.

If it continues to run without ever reaching the set temperature, the unit may be the wrong size or has outlived its useful lifespan. In either case, it’s time to replace the equipment.

Energy usage escalates

You may not notice that your air conditioner is running constantly, but your electric bill is sure to draw your attention. Aside from simple seasonal changes, a big increase in your monthly electric bill indicates an older unit is ready for replacement.

Breaks down constantly

Old machinery needs a lot of attention to keep working. Along with maintenance, it needs the occasional repair. However, if breaks down quite frequently, and you’re spending more and more time fixing it yourself or waiting on a technician, it’s time to replace it.

Consider the cost of maintenance and repairs, and even if you’re handy enough to perform your own repairs, your time is worth money. If the unit is so old that you can’t even find parts, it’s definitely a sign your AC is not worth fixing.

Extending Your Air Conditioner’s Lifespan

There are a few things homeowners can do to ensure that their AC lasts longer. While there are no miracle cures for an ancient system, you improve its efficiency until you’re ready to replace it with a more efficient and eco-friendly unit.

1. Regular maintenance

Performing regular maintenance is key to ensuring your AC works for many years. This includes changing the air filters every 30 to 90 days and scheduling an annual checkup with a professional technician.

2. Reduce heat load

Reducing the amount of heat in your home also help reduce the load on your AC unit. This includes using your stove, oven, dryer, and other heat-generating appliances with more care. Improve your home’s insulation by sealing windows and using blackout curtains.

The Critical Factor that Determines How Long an Air Conditioner Should Last

Even with the best of maintenance, the lifespan of your AC system is ultimately determined by how often you use it.

Here in South Florida, that adds up to a lot of hours. Except for a few weeks in late winter, we use our AC nearly every day of the year. And if it’s not just the heat, it’s the humidity! Your AC unit may be the only thing that keeps your home comfortably dry, even when the temperatures are mild.

If it’s time to purchase a new air conditioner, don’t put it off any longer. The money you save will be your own. Make an appointment today with the technicians at One Hour Air in Miami for an estimate. We’ll install an updated, efficient air conditioner that keeps you cool and saves you money.