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How Long Can I Expect My AC to Last?

old-air-conditioner-unit

When the summer comes to an end—and despite the current heat, that end arrives in a bit over a month—we recommend our customers take stock of their central air conditioners. An AC goes through plenty during a summer, and some warning signs can indicate that a cooling system is ready for replacement. 

This topic brings up a question people often have about their central air conditioners: how many years of service can they expect from theirs? 

It’s a good question, and it has several answers. Below we’ll go into the details of the life expectancy of a central air conditioner. 

The Modern Air Conditioner

A good piece of news upfront: central air conditioning systems last longer than they once did. It used to be common wisdom that a home needed to replace its AC every 10 years or so. That’s no longer true. The old life expectancy was 10 to 12 years, but better construction and changes in refrigerant have extended the lifespan to 10 to 15 years, with more ACs reaching 15 years as long as they receive the proper level of routine maintenance. 

We recommend you keep the 10-year mark in mind, since it’s the point where you are more likely to notice signs your AC is beginning to lose efficiency and effectiveness. You may still get five solid years of cooling without seeing a rise in energy costs, but caution will help you spot when the AC may need a targeted repair and give you a warning that the system is ready for replacement. 

Can an AC Last Longer Than 15 Years?

Yes. You can push almost any device past its standard expiration date and get more work out of it. But it comes with costs and risks. You may have heard that air conditioners can reach 20 years without problem. Maybe sometimes that’s true, but the chance of an air conditioner losing its energy efficiency and suffering sudden breakdowns becomes much higher when it’s more than 15 years old. 

Something else to consider with an air conditioner aging past 15: replacement parts will become harder to get as the unit becomes more outdated. The R-22 refrigerant used for many decades in air conditioners has now been fully phased out of use, making it expensive—or even impossible—to repair older R-22 units. The current refrigerant, R-410A, will also start a phase-out in the near future. The longer you keep your AC, the more it will cost to repair it. 

It’s simply not worth it to try to push an inefficient AC to 20 years when you can invest that money at 15 years in a new system with better performance, efficiency, reliability, and ease of service. 

We Can Help With Replacement Questions

You can rely on our great team of West Chester, PA air conditioning pros to help you make a choice about when to replace your AC. If your air conditioner is more than 10 years old, we can tell you if a repair is worth the cost or not. We offer 100% customer satisfaction, so you can’t go wrong when you work with us.

Look to “Signature Service You Can Trust!” Signature HVAC serves Chester County and the surrounding areas.

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