Your air conditioner is built to last. Its major components are designed to last for many years, even in dry, arid climates like the Valley of the Sun. The average lifespan of a central air conditioning system is between 15 and 20 years. If you have preventative maintenance routinely performed, it could last longer, but will work more efficiently even as it ages. For homeowners and property owners who don’t have their systems regularly serviced, the time for replacement will, of course, be sooner.
Telltale Signs an Air Conditioner needs to be Replaced
The good news is, technological advancements and small improvements do give residential air conditioners long lives. Conversely, the bad news is, some major components will fail before the entire unit needs to be replaced. While these can be costly, are certainly less expensive than total replacement. Should your air conditioner be on its last leg, then, you ought to buy a suitable replacement. One mistake that consumers make is purchasing a unit based on price alone. This doesn’t account for the right size, or, it’s energy efficiency, which is measured by its Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, or, SEER.
The “lifespan” of a central air conditioner is about 15 to 20 years. Manufacturers typically continue to support existing equipment by making replacement parts available and honoring maintenance contracts after the new standard goes into effect. —U.S. Department of Energy
The minimal rating you’ll find is 13, but, there are even more energy efficient residential systems available. Before you buy a new unit, be sure to consult a licensed and experienced technician so you have the right sized and suitable unit for your home. If you think your residential HVAC system is beginning to reach the end of its life, you’ll see the following telltale signs it needs to be replaced:
- Increased energy bills. Even older residential air conditioners cool a home sufficiently, but might not be as energy efficient. If your utility costs continue to rise, especially as daytime highs start to drop, this is a sign your system is beginning to fail. Along the same lines, is the need to run the system at a cooler temperature for longer periods of time to maintain comfort levels.
- Strange noises. Another sign that an air conditioner is failing are strange noises such as creaks, squeaks, clanks, and weird buzzing. In some instances, just changing the filter is enough to quiet such noises, however, it could also be a telltale sign the motor is burning out.
- A funky or odd odor. While you might not hear any strange sounds, you might smell a funky odor. These can be present for a number of reasons, but, you’ll need to call-in an experienced technician in-order to pinpoint the source and address the problem.
- Fluctuation in room temperature. It’s not unusual for rooms to be different temperatures. However, if there’s a sudden change in the comfort of a room, that’s a sign there’s something going on with your residential AC unit. These can be indicators of worn out parts and/or leaks in the ductwork.
- Age of the unit. The age of the unit is another sign it might need to be replaced. While a system can last 20 years, it will need more preventative maintenance and repair work, which will wind-up costing more in the long run.