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How Long Should an AC Unit Last?

On average, just how long should an AC unit last? Our experts at Abt share their top tips for when it's time to replace your unit.
Central Air Conditioner in a Backyard

Getting Started

The typical U.S. home demands an average monthly electricity consumption of 897 kilowatt-hours (kWh). When you multiply that by the average electricity rate of 13.84 cents per kWh, the standard home's electric bill equates to $124.14 per month. However, when our AC units are faulty or on the fritz, this number can increase exponentially. Outdated air conditioner units consume much more energy than is necessary to cool your home. Further, a dirty or faulty filter can add as much as 15% to your energy bill!
To save on your energy bill, you must learn when it's time to retire your AC unit. So how long should an AC unit last, and how do you know when it's time for a new air conditioner? Continue reading to learn more.

How Long AC Units Last, On Average

Every major appliance has a lifespan. On average, the typical home air conditioning unit can last anywhere from 15 to 25 years. Of course, you'll have to take care of your air conditioner with routine maintenance if you want it to last this long. It's important to note that for a window AC unit specifically, some models may only last for a decade. While many factors contribute to your AC's overall life, here are some easy to tell signs that it's time for a new unit.
Old Central Air Conditioner that needs to be replaced

How to Know When to Replace Your Air Conditioner

  1. You've owned the unit for over a decade.
    As mentioned, the average lifespan of your AC depends on how well you maintain it. If it's not regularly maintained, an air conditioner may not make it past the first few years. So, set a yearly reminder and have it serviced at least once per year. Also, keep in mind each part has its own lifespan and may need to be replaced or repaired before replacing the entire unit.
  2. Your AC is so outdated it uses Freon.
    The Environmental Protection Agency has been phasing out Freon refrigerant R-22 since the 1980s because of its ozone-depleting substances. While you can find Freon, and it's still legal to sell and use, it's going to become harder and harder to obtain. Since Freon is quickly becoming an outdated substance, it's best to find a new AC unit.
  3. Your air conditioner has multiple motor or compressor break downs.
    As your AC unit ages, you might find yourself continually fixing broken parts like motors and compressors. These repairs can become quite costly. Instead of continuously forking over cash for expensive repairs, invest in a replacement for a cost-effective solution.
  4. Your unit makes loud and annoying sounds.
    If you hear a squealing, grinding or clunking sound coming from your AC, consider it a death rattle. While it's perfectly normal for most air conditioners to emit noise, more aggressive sounds indicate a more significant issue. Again, these sounds don't necessarily mean you need to replace the entire unit, but they may indicate that you need to replace a part of your AC.
  5. There are installation errors and safety issues.
    Repair-person fixing air conditionerz
    As a homeowner, it's tempting to try a DIY AC install. But while you may save dollars, improper installation can lead to costly and even dangerous mistakes. Without the knowledge of a professional, you could create safety hazards like fires and electrocution. It's also essential to install a properly-sized AC unit for your room or home. Air conditioners that are installed incorrectly may void the warranty and shorten their lifespan. If you're at all unsure, be sure to hire an HVAC contractor to inspect the unit for any potential installation safety issues or dangerous hazards.
  6. There are too many costly repairs.
    If you continue to call your HVAC technician over and over in a short period of time, you might want to bite the bullet and replace your AC unit. Frequent service calls mean thousands of dollars in repairs. Fortunately, if you buy a high-quality, energy-efficient air conditioner, it will save you money on repair expenses and energy bills.
Have you experienced any of these six indicators? It might be time to replace your AC. Check out Abt's comprehensive Air Conditioner Buying Guide to explore your options and learn how to choose the appropriate unit for your home.