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Repair or Replace? Average Life of an Air Conditioning Unit

Some of the most frequently asked questions we get at Althoff Industries are related to the repair, replacement, and lifespan of HVAC equipment. This time of year in Chicago, questions about the average life of an air conditioner unit and whether the repair or replacement of a central air conditioner is better are common. It is not an easy answer because personal situations and equipment quality vary so widely but we can add some perspective.

What Is the Average Life of an Air Conditioning Unit?

Quite frankly, we have seen AC units that need to be replaced after as little as 10 years and have seen them still operating after 30 years. Both are extremes, of course, but generally speaking, it is safe to use 20 years as an average life-expectancy of an air conditioner. If your’s lasts longer, there are reasons to be grateful.

What Affects an Air Conditioner’s Life Expectancy?

There are three significant factors that will affect the average life of an air conditioner unit.

  1. The quality of the equipment. When it comes to mechanical equipment, quality will always be a major factor in determining the length of service. It is common sense that an air conditioner that is engineered and constructed better will last longer.
  2. Proper sizing and installation. If errors are made in an initial installation of a unit, it can dramatically affect how long a central air conditioner will last. It is one of the benefits of using a trusted, professional HVAC company for the installation of your AC unit. Proper sizing is critical, so don’t fall for “bigger is better” sales pitch. It has been shown that over-sized units tend to fail faster than those that are properly sized.
  3. Maintenance and service. A third significant factor impacting the life of your central air conditioner is how well it is maintained and serviced. Have filters and coils been kept clean? Has vegetation been kept clear from the outside unit? Have fan motors been properly lubricated? It is the reason a professional inspection and tune-up in the spring and fall are so valuable. When it does need service, any replacement parts shouldn’t be appropriately installed. It can be of value to you to have the same company maintain your unit annually, that is if you are satisfied with their service, of course.

Simply put, to maximize the lifespan of a central air conditioner, select quality equipment and have it installed, serviced, and maintained by a trusted professional. We, of course, hope you will consider the team at Althoff Industries.

Repair Or Replace?

Things get trickier when it comes to the decision to repair or replace. The EPA suggests that if the equipment is 10 years or older you should replace it. This is because of increasingly higher SEER ratings that are available in newer units and due to the fact that your unit is likely destined for complete failure in the next five to ten years anyway. Budgets and life situations may make repair the better choice, even if it is a temporary situation. At Althoff Industries, we will guide you through your options and the benefits and risks of each. The option to repair or replace, however, is always yours.

If your central air conditioner is 15 years or older, contact us for an inspection and tune up. It is possible your air conditioner may not be cooling your home properly or efficiently, costing you money every time you pay your electric bill.  We hear from many of our customers who had an AC failure and replaced their older unit. Afterwards, they said if they would have known how much they would have been saving, they would have made a proactive decision to replace years ago! Call Althoff Industries today!

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