How long is the average life expectancy of an air conditioning system?

The life of your HVAC system depends on how often you keep up with maintenance checks and how well your unit is maintained year-round

How long do HVAC units last?

This Old House says that a furnace will last between 15 to 25 years and an air conditioning unit between 10 and 15 years on average. After that, the maintenance and energy cost make replacement an attractive option. The team at Lakeview Heating and Cooling has seen units last far longer with diligent maintenance, and we’ve also seen customers prematurely need new HVAC systems — which don’t come cheap — because of neglect. So how can you prolong the life of an HVAC system?

Regular HVAC maintenance will keep costs in check

It is a widely-accepted premise that regular seasonal service and maintenance of your air conditioning system, will help keep your energy cost in check and extend the life expectancy of your unit. This would include things like regularly changing your filters, keeping debris cleared away from the unit, getting seasonal “tune ups”, keeping the condensation drain open and the vents clean.

Incidentally, keeping your vents clean can have an impact on your family’s health.  The moisture produced by the air conditioning system can cause your vents to be a fertile breeding ground for mold and mildew.

How much energy do air conditioners use?

Today’s best air conditioners use 30 to 50% less energy. Air conditioner efficiency is measured by Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio or SEER. The SEER rating today will vary from 13 to 20. In older units it may be as low as 6. With an energy efficient air conditioner, you will not only be reducing your energy cost, but you will also reduce your carbon footprint and be more eco-friendly.

An inefficient or poorly maintained air conditioning system will not only cost you money, it drops a lot of carbon and sulphur dioxide into the environment.

In addition to age and increase in your energy bill, keep an eye out for too many costly repairs, a system continuously running, strange sounds (especially from the venting), or a rise in dust or humidity. Any of these might be a strong indicator that it might be time to consider replacing the old system.

According to the Department of Energy, if you have an older central air conditioner, you might choose to replace the outdoor compressor with a modern, high-efficiency unit. If you do so, consult a local Chicago Lakeview Heating & Cooling HVAC contractor to ensure that the new compressor is properly matched to the indoor unit. However, considering recent changes in refrigerants and air conditioning designs, it might be wiser to replace the entire system.

Tend to HVAC repairs as soon as you suspect any issue with your air conditioner

If your air conditioner is installed correctly, or if major installation problems are found and fixed, it will perform efficiently for years with only minor routine maintenance.

However, many air conditioners are not installed correctly. As an unfortunate result, modern energy-efficient air conditioners can perform almost as poorly as older inefficient models. Another important consideration is properly sizing the new unit.

How to make your air conditioner and furnace last longer

Buy good quality AC & Furnace filters

Cheap filters aren’t the savings they seem to be at first. That’s because fiberglass filters don’t filter well and need more frequent replacement. Your best bet is a pleated filter, especially if it’s electrostatically charged. Not only do they filter the air better, some of them can even be cleaned for reuse so you can go longer between replacements.

Replace HVAC filters on schedule

Most manufacturers suggest replacing filters every 90 days. That’s just a guideline. If you have pets that shed, if you keep the windows open for fresh air, or if you smoke, you’ll find yourself changing filters more often. You should check your filter monthly so you can replace it when it’s needed.

Maintain clearance around vents

If your cat’s bed, a piece of furniture, or another obstruction is close to your intake, you’re decreasing system efficiency while also raising the risk of overheating. Always keep a minimum clearance of two feet around vents, intakes, and equipment.

Tidy up you home

Exterior units should also be free of obstructions and debris. Keep leaves, lawn debris, and twigs away from the unit to keep it free from damage.

Inspect the HVAC unit

Check your unit monthly. The lines should be free of damage, the insulation intact, and the other components (like the housing) free of rust.

Prevent clogs in your HVAC system

Your system can accumulate contaminants like algae and mold that can proliferate and clog your system. Mix one cup of bleach with one cup of water and pour it down the condensate drain annually. It’ll kill off many contaminants, keeping your system clog-free.

Use only what you need

You’re not using your furnace in the summer, so shut down the furnace humidifier and its water supply. Replace the humidifier filter at the same time. You won’t need it again until the temperature drops.

Keep vents open

You won’t need to heat or cool every room all the time. If you have a disused guest bedroom, or if the den doesn’t get as much use as it once did, there’s nothing wrong with closing the register in that room. However, you’ll cause system strain if at least 80 percent of your registers aren’t open. Consider a zone dampening system if you’re looking for more efficiency.

Replace your CO detector battery

Your CO detector won’t save your furnace, but it could save your life. Change batteries at the same time you change smoke detector batteries. For many people, scheduling battery changes when Daylight Savings Time starts and ends is a great reminder.

When do you need to install a new HVAC system?

Maybe you’re already doing these things and you’re diligent about maintenance and the occasional repair. If enough time has passed, it may still be worth considering a replacement. For starters, Air Conditioning systems and furnaces lose efficiency over time. The system that gave you 80 percent efficiency initially may only be giving you 40 percent efficiency now, draining your wallet through higher energy bills even if you’ve staved off major repairs.

This is where Lakeview Heating and Cooling comes in. With over 20 years of experience, Chicago can trust the quality of service that Lakeview provides. We will help you determine the right make and model, for you and your family, and ensure it is properly sized and installed. This might also be a good time to look at your indoor air quality.

To get a free estimate, call or visit our website and fill out our easy online contact form. One of our highly trained specialists will get back to you promptly. While you are there, be sure to check on some of our outstanding seasonal discounts. We offer many payment options, including all major credit cards and 0% interest-free financing.

Reach out to our AC technicians for advice on new HVAC installation!

Lakeview Heating and Cooling in Chicago is the company to trust for all your heating, cooling and air quality needs. We offer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week emergency service, at no extra cost. Call today! You’ll be glad you did!