How Long Do AC Units Last?

A central air conditioner is a major investment. Yet, it’s definitely an essential one if you live in Southern Arizona. After spending thousands on a new unit, many homeowners wonder: “How long do AC units last?” You will understandably want your new air conditioner to last as long as possible. It’s also a good idea to have a general understanding of how long your AC might reasonably be expected to last so that you can begin to save for its eventual replacement. However, how long an AC lasts varies greatly from unit to unit, depending on several factors.

The Quick Answer to “How Long Do AC Units Last?”

Most central air conditioners will last for about 12 to 15 years. However, because AC units in the Southwest get so much more use than in other parts of the country, the average lifespan of a central AC unit in Arizona is a bit shorter—about 11 years. Of course, there are always AC units that buck the trend.

Here at Intelligent Design in Tucson, our certified AC technicians have worked on central air conditioners that need to be replaced as young as four years of age. On the flip side, we have also seen some machines that are still going strong at 50 years! Throughout our years of experience working on AC units in Southern Arizona, we’ve noticed that the answer to the question: “How long do AC units last?” really boils down to the following three factors:

  • The quality of the installation
  • The quality of the machine (its manufacturer)
  • How well the AC unit is maintained and given routine service

The Importance of Selecting a High-Quality AC Unit

You might assume that the make and model of the AC unit is the most important factor in determining its longevity. While it does play a role, the quality of the manufacturer only accounts for roughly 20% when determining how long an AC unit will last.

When it’s time to replace your current central air conditioner, it’s a good idea to talk to the experts. Certified AC technicians, like those at Intelligent Design Air Conditioning and Heating, work with these machines all day long. They have a keen understanding of the brands and models that tend to be the most reliable.

The Importance of Routine Maintenance

Another factor in determining the answer to the question: “How long do AC units last?” is how well you maintain the unit. A well-maintained AC that receives professional service twice per year will always last longer than a unit that is poorly maintained. The maintenance factor comprises roughly 15% to 20% of determining the longevity of the AC unit.

One common misconception is that central AC units only need to be routinely tuned up once per year. But in fact, most manufacturers’ guidelines recommend twice per year service visits. You should get your AC serviced in the late spring or early summer, as well as in the late fall or early winter.

It’s also important to check the filter often. Replace or clean it as needed. A dirty air filter will make the machine work harder. This will cause a loss of energy efficiency, an increase in your utility bills, and a shorter overall lifespan for the AC unit.

The Way the Installation Affects How Long an AC Unit Lasts

By far, the biggest factor that affects the longevity of an AC unit is the quality of the installation. According to some reports, the installation comprises about 60% to 65% of determining longevity and efficiency, as well as determining how many repairs the unit will require over its lifetime.

A certified technician will perform a thorough evaluation and do calculations to determine the right size of AC unit for the building. It’s absolutely crucial to get this done right, because if the unit is the wrong size, it will short cycle. A short-cycling cooling system cannot operate efficiently, cannot remove humidity effectively, and will break down frequently. Plus, it will need to be replaced far sooner than it otherwise would. That’s why it’s so important to have a certified AC technician come out to your home to do a full evaluation and recommend the right size of unit for your home.

The answer to the question, “How long do AC units last?” is complicated, but here at Intelligent Design, we’re experts at simplifying complex topics in order to help our customers understand our recommendations. Schedule a free estimate to replace your AC unit, and we’ll help you choose the right unit for your building, and provide instructions for proper maintenance and routine service visits. We’ll also ensure that the installation is completed properly for maximum longevity. You can reach our office in Tucson at (520) 462-1187 for more information or to schedule your free estimate.