What Is the Average Lifespan of an Air Conditioner?

Average Lifespan of Air Conditioner

From the scorching heat of summer to the bitter cold of winter, we’re constantly relying on our AC systems to keep our homes comfortable. While these workhorses are generally hidden in the backgrounds of our homes and lives, their effect is known immediately when they malfunction. And, ultimately, even the greatest of air conditioners must one day come to its end. But, how long can you expect an air conditioner to last? And is there anything you can do to lengthen its lifespan?

What affects the lifespan of an AC unit?

The US Department of Energy states that the average lifespan of an AC unit is between 15 and 20 years. The actual lifespan of any air conditioner, however, will depend on a variety of factors. While some of these factors are within your control, others are subject to things like climate or proper installation.


Perhaps the most obvious factor in determining the lifespan of an AC unit is how often it is used. A system that runs 20 out of 24 hours is going to reach the end of its life much quicker than a system working half that time in the same circumstances.

Humidity Levels

One of the major responsibilities of any air conditioner is to reduce and cool the amount of moisture in the air. Areas and homes with high humidity levels will, therefore, cause greater strain on an AC unit as it performs its cooling duties.

Corrosion / Rust Control

This is especially relevant in coastal areas where water and salt are present in the air. Both of these elements can be highly corrosive to the metal parts in an air conditioner. Not only will the individual parts need to be replaced more often, but the AC unit as a whole also won’t operate at its peak efficiency level as it runs with deteriorating parts.

Oversized / Undersized Units

Having a properly-sized AC unit is essential not only for efficient cooling and heating of your home, but also for the longevity of your system. An oversized unit will constantly turn on and off without running a complete cooling cycle. This puts an undue strain on the various components in the AC system responsible for effective heating and cooling. An undersized unit, on the other hand, will constantly be overloaded, working much too hard without ever controlling your home’s climate appropriately.

How Well the Unit is Maintained

Like any other piece of equipment or technology, your AC unit’s lifespan is always dependent on how you treat it. If you overwork your system or neglect regular maintenance, your unit will suffer the consequences in the long run.

How to Extend the Lifespan of an Air Conditioner

1. Change Filters at Regular Intervals

It is generally advised to change your air filters every 60-90 days. These intervals will differ, however, based on what kind of filters you buy and the indoor air quality of your home. If you have pets or excessive dust in your home, for instance, you will need to change your filters more often. Clogged AC filters are often the prime culprit for AC problems since they can restrict airflow throughout your system. If you notice poor airflow, trouble with heating / cooling, or musty odors in the air, you should first check the air filters and see if they need to be replaced. Having clean air filters will go a long way towards keeping your system performing at its highest level throughout its life cycle.

2. Have Regular Tuneups

We recommend that you have your AC system tuned up twice a year — once before the start of the cooling season and again before the start of the heating season. Whether it’s cleaning the system or detecting problems before they get out of hand, preventative maintenance can play a key role in extending the life of your AC unit.

3. Taking Care of Your Unit

Too much or inefficient use of your AC unit can put an unnecessary burden on your system to heat and cool your home. For this reason, it’s important to follow energy-efficient thermostat settings in order to reduce the load on your system.

4. Don’t Delay Repairs

Letting your AC unit run while it’s malfunctioning can lead to serious damage. While it’s tempting to put off repairs that may be expensive, delaying repairs can only lead to more money spent on repairs — or even a full replacement — down the road. At the first sign of malfunction, call your local AC experts and let them help you diagnose the problem. From there you can set up any necessary maintenance or repairs. If the problem is only minor, you may even be able to solve the problem yourself, though it is still recommended to consult with HVAC professionals first.

Knowing When to Repair / Replace AC Unit

There comes a point in the life of every air conditioner when you have to make a decision — repair or replace. While this decision can come at a high financial cost, some basic wisdom can guide you. If the unit is more than two-thirds through its predicted lifespan, you should replace the unit if the repairs cost more than 25 percent of a full replacement for the unit. New units also can come with greater energy efficiency, and you may even consider upgrading to a higher SEER rating, which will lead to even greater month-to-month savings on your energy bill.

Need AC Service in Atlanta, GA? Air Select Can Help

Whether you need AC advice, routine maintenance, or a full replacement, our trusted team of HVAC experts are here to help. Since 2008, Air Select has been providing dependable, high quality AC services for families and businesses in Atlanta, GA. Call us today or contact us using this form to schedule a service or talk to an expert.