How Long Does An HVAC Last?

How Long Does An HVAC Last Review

Are you wondering how long your HVAC will last? Well, you are in luck. 

In this guide, you will learn:

  • How long does the average air conditioner last?
  • Are there factors that affect the life span of your HVAC system?
  • What parts of your air conditioner are most likely to fail?
  • How much will it cost to replace your AC unit?
  • And more!

As a homeowner, it is essential to know how much major home systems last and how much it costs to replace them. The more information you have the better prepared you will be when a system replacement is necessary. 

So, read through this guide to learn everything you need to know about the lifespan of your HVAC system.

How Often Do You Have To Replace Your Air Conditioning Units? 

Several significant components make up your HVAC system. If one or more parts stops working, you might need to replace your entire system. 

Generally, homeowners need to plan on a total system replacement every 15 to 20 years. If you purchase a lower-end system, you may need to replace it in as little as 10 years.

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Manufacturer’s Warranties

AC manufacturers provide new customers with a warranty that covers the parts for different lengths of time. Typically heat exchangers, blower motors, and heat pumps are only under contract for 3 to 5 years. 

Compressors are usually warrantied for as long as 10 to 12 years if you buy a top-of-the-line from an industry leader. You can expect your air conditioner to last at least as long as the warranty period. 

That is the length of time that the maker expects the cooling system to last with regular maintenance and routine air filter changes, a requirement for your warranty coverage to be valid.Technician is checking HVAC - how long does it last?

Geographical Location

Your air conditioning system’s average lifespan is not as long if you live in a coastal area or an area with high-humidity. Salt and moisture wreak havoc on your HVAC system’s electrical components.

Gas Furnace vs. Oil Furnace vs. Electric Furnace 

Gas and oil furnaces generally don’t last as long as electric units. The burning fuel creates soot in the system, which builds up in the furnace over time. 

Electric units do not produce these contaminants. So, they usually last longer. Of course, the length of time your unit lasts still depends on where you live, how well you maintain your AC, and the quality of your components. 

HVAC Maintenance 

HVAC maintenance goes a long way when it comes to the length of time your air conditioning lasts. If you maintain your system properly, it should last at least 15 to 20 years, and some last much longer.

For more information on the lifespan of your HVAC system, check out this informative video:

How Do You Know When You Need A New System?

There are so many variables that affect the average life expectancy of your central air conditioner and furnace. So, it can be challenging to pinpoint an exact lifespan for your unit. 

HVAC Equipment Breakdowns

When your AC starts requiring more frequent visits from an HVAC contractor, you probably need to consider replacing your air conditioner. You have to weigh the cost of a replacement with the cost of repairing parts one by one to make your HVAC system last longer. 

Higher Energy Bills 

When your energy-efficient air conditioner is running correctly, you will enjoy energy savings. If you notice higher than average energy costs, it indicates that your system needs a tune-up at the least.

If you have an HVAC professional perform a system overhaul and are still receiving high energy bills, it is likely time to start shopping for a new unit.

Your System Struggles To Maintain The Thermostat Temperature

If you set the thermostat to 72 degrees and your indoor temperature never drops to that temperature, there is something wrong with your air conditioner. When your air conditioner is unable to decrease the temperature in your home, the unit runs constantly. 

That puts additional strain on a system that is already overloaded. If you have an older air conditioner, you may notice that the efficiency of your AC gets worse as it ages.

Poor Indoor Air Quality

Old air conditioners can stink. Sometimes there is nothing you can do to get a bad smell out of your HVAC system. Bacteria, dust, skin cells, fungus, and many other germs attach to the various components. 

After years of buildup, some air conditioners start smelling like dirty socks or mildew when you turn them on. You can do a deep cleaning of the system, but many people report that the smell keeps coming back. 

If your air conditioner is producing a foul smell, it can indicate that your system is producing too much condensation. The wet dark environment becomes a breeding ground for odor-causing bacteria. 

Your HVAC Technician Tells Says You Need A New AC System 

Your HVAC system lasts longer if you perform proper maintenance. Unfortunately, HVAC maintenance is not at the forefront of most homeowners’ minds. 

Your System Has Not Had Proper Maintenance 

Your air conditioners need scheduled maintenance just like a car needs the oil changed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. If you do not take care of your AC it will fail faster. 

Unfortunately, you are not always in control of the service your system received in the past. If you purchase an older home, it is difficult to know how well the previous homeowner cared for any of the systems on your new property. 

While foregoing these DIY tasks will not immediately affect your HVAC, over time, it can cause irreversible damage. These are the regular maintenance tasks that should be completed on your HVAC. 

  • Changing air filters every 20 to 30 days
  • Having an HVAC technician perform bi-annual tune-ups.
  • Completing repairs as soon as they are necessary
  • Clean your coils annually
  • Have your ductwork professionally cleaned 
  • Make sure both units have adequate airflow

If you have not kept up with your AC maintenance, it is never too late to start, and when you do purchase a new system, you need to keep up with regular tune-ups. 

Did You Know How Long Does An HVAC Last Facts

How Much Will A New Air Conditioner Cost You?

A total system replacement will run you between $3,500 and $5,500 on average. If you only need to replace one of your AC units, it will cost you between $800 and $3,000. 

Refrigerant leaks, loose parts, and run capacitors are some of the least expensive repairs. You can still expect to pay at least $150 to $300 for these less costly fixes. 

Aside from buying a house or car, purchasing a new air conditioner is one of the largest purchases people make.

Why Should You Replace Your Old System?

There are some pretty significant reasons to replace your old HVAC system with a high-efficiency system. Ultimately, the decision to replace an aging air conditioner depends on your budget. 

Completing repairs may be more affordable, but they can add up. So, here are a few reasons you should consider replacing your HVAC sooner rather than later. 

Energy Savings 

Older air conditioner units are more costly to operate, especially when your system begins breaking down. Replacing a clunky older unit with a more energy-efficient alternative can help you save money each month. 

More Affordable Repairs

New AC units utilize the new refrigerant, which the EPA now requires. That means, if your system develops a leak or your HVAC technician needs to add coolant after replacing a part, the refrigerant will be a lot less expensive. 

R-22 refrigerant was banned in the United States nearly ten years ago, and since then, the EPA has been phasing out units that use it. If you purchased your old unit before 2010, it likely uses R-22, which costs more than $50 per pound. 

Furthermore, it is growing increasingly harder to find. R-22 cannot be sold in or imported to the United States. So, if your system uses it, your HVAC specialist has to locate a recaptured R-22 coolant.  


Aside from higher energy efficiency, a new air conditioner can cool your home faster and remove more moisture from the air, which makes your home more comfortable. At the same time, comfort alone might not be enough to motivate you to invest in a new air conditioner. 

How Can You Prepare To Replace Your HVAC? 

You know that sooner or later, you will have to purchase a new air conditioner and you know it will cost you between $3,500 and $5,500 to replace. Preparing in advance will help you avoid the stress of handling a major system replacement in the heat.  

One of the best ways that you can handle major system maintenance and replacements is by purchasing a systems plan from a highly-rated home warranty company. There are even plans that include semi-annual system checkups and air filters for your new AC system.