How Long Do Central AC Units Last?

How Long Do Central Ac Units Last?

Central AC units circulate temperature-controlled air through an interconnected system of air ducts (both supply and return), which can include wall vents, floor vents, or even vents in the ceiling(s) covered by grills. They supply the air from the AC unit to the building (your home, or the office, etc.). As warm air starts to build up within the room(s), it passes back to the central AC unit, via all the return ducts and registers.

Central AC units also play a part in dehumidifying the incoming air. If you run a dehumidifier within the air-conditioned building it will push the energy costs up, because both the dehumidifier and the central AC unit will also be guzzling a huge amount of power to reduce the temperature in the building. Also, this continuous extra pressure on the unit, means its entire life span is greatly reduced. The life expectancy of your AC system is heavily dependent on how it is used and strained it is on a regular basis.

Factors Affecting the Longevity of a Central AC Unit

  1. Size – The size of your unit should be appropriate for the building, or home. Short cycles put more pressure on the AC unit’s components. A system bigger than the size needed is not optimal. Also, smaller units will stay on too long, again putting serious pressure on their components.
  2. Installation – Proper installation is key to increasing the life of a unit.
  3. Regular Maintenance – In the absence of routine maintenance, the longevity of a central AC unit can be severely reduced.

Reasons to Change Your Central AC Unit

  1. It’s More Than Ten Years Old – A Decade is a very long time in the life of an HVAC system. Only the units that undergo regular maintenance and have their parts repaired and/or replaced, ever cross this threshold. Not having your central AC unit serviced at least once each year can prove to be detrimental. Along with that, you must remember that each of the individual components has a different life span. For example, the filter(s) will need washing (or replacing) around 4 times during each year. This number can increase to around 12 times, in cases where it is running for the majority of the day. In any case, you should keep a very close watch over your central AC unit to see if it requires replacement if it’s more than a decade old.
  2. It Uses Freon – Harmful CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons) that used to be released, punctured huge holes in the ozone layer and so all AC units that released any CFC were banned quite a few years back. HCFC-22 or R-22, better known as “Freon” its massively popular brand name, is one such banned Hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC). If your central AC unit uses Freon as a refrigerant get it replaced immediately. Not only is it harmful to nature and will cause you a mountain of expensive problems if it leaks, but almost no supplier stocks it anymore, making it nearly impossible to refill your unit with the chemical.
  3. Multiple Motor/Compressor Break Downs – An aging AC unit with a failing compressor/motor is a disastrous combination. So in case the motor or compressors start breaking down at regular intervals, you should try and replace the entire central AC unit. The costs may seem huge, but the costs to have just these major components replaced are quite high themselves, and even then the unit may break down again.
  4. Too Many Issues – Central AC units often make sounds, especially during cycling. However, if it starts making too much of a ruckus it might be time to have it evaluated to check its condition. Aggressive sounds can be proof of serious problems and even though they may not result in the need for a complete replacement. If you start replacing part after part in a central AC unit you can rack up a bill in the thousands. In fact, any time you see that the cost to maintain the AC unit is getting out of hand, like having to call the technician too frequently, and/or you’re having to replace parts regularly, you should get a new unit installed, because the running costs will only keep increasing.
  5. Issue with Installation -If any mistakes were made during the time of its installation, or issues cropped up during the installation process, it can have a big effect on the longevity of a central AC unit. They can even lead to safety hazards – like fires or even electrocution. AC units perform favorably only when installed correctly. So, in case you find any installation issues when you hire a contractor to inspect the unit, the intelligent move would be to replace it. The results and “costs” if you leave a situation like this unchecked can be severe.

Average Life Expectancy

Central AC units have to withstand a lot of abuse having to continuously control the temperature of entire buildings(in some cases), all the year-round. So talking about the average life expectancy of such a unit, you need to check the type of unit that was installed. For units that are well-built and durable and made with top-quality parts the unit should be able to withstand anything thrown at it for a number of years.

However, the longevity of any central AC unit is heavily reliant on the type of repair and replacement policy in place. Conducting regular checkups of the unit and carrying out repairs and/or replacement of parts whenever necessary heavily increases the lifespan of a unit. Going by CNN’s research, well-maintained HVAC systems that receive regular tune-ups can last for up to 25 years. You will, however, require repairs and/or replacements within that period.

Final Words

There are a number of things that are extremely necessary to increase the longevity of your central AC unit, including routine checkups, regular maintenance, repairs, and replacements. However, there will be a time when this will not be enough and you must replace the entire unit. So be on the lookout for the signs, as mentioned above. That way you can stay on top of the perfect time to make the change.