When it comes to an important system like your air conditioner, you don’t want to be caught by surprise by a sudden need to replace it. While no one can tell you the exact day on which your AC unit will completely cease to function, there are some ways to get a pretty good idea. Here are the most important things to keep in mind when considering how long you should expect your air conditioner to keep working.
This is the first thing you should ask yourself. How old is my AC unit? A traditional central air conditioner will generally still be working just fine in ten years, but by fifteen, if it hasn’t failed yet, it will very soon. However, this estimate is based on air conditioners which have received annual maintenance from qualified technicians. If you have a heat pump, you might be delighted to find that it could last even longer. With proper care, a heat pump can keep running for twenty years.
Have you been getting routine AC maintenance done? This needs to happen once per year. Most people in the Chicago area have their air conditioners maintained in the spring. It ensures that they’re in the best possible condition right before they have to work the hardest. But it’s definitely more important to have it done every year than to have it done at a particular time of year.
When your technician gives your AC unit a checkup, they will thoroughly clean all the components and remove dust and grime which can otherwise gum up the works and cause the system to struggle harder to function. Moving parts are lubricated to reduce friction, cutting down on wear and tear. And by checking every part of the system, your technician will catch any tiny issues before they turn into big problems. This cuts down on repair needs in the future and extends the life of the system. Without maintenance, an air conditioner might only function for half of its expected lifespan.
How Air Conditioners Fail
While most components of an air conditioner can be repaired or replaced, the one truly critical component is also the most expensive: the compressor. Failure of this part is the leading reason for air conditioners to be replaced. It does the taxing job of pressurizing the refrigerant so it flows through the coils, absorbing and releasing heat. And there are definitely things you can do to help keep your compressor in good condition.
First, make sure you’re changing your air conditioner’s air filter every month while it’s running frequently, and at least every three months during times of occasional use. This helps allow airflow, reducing strain on the compressor.
Second, keep your coils clean. If they’re insulated with dirt and debris, the refrigerant won’t absorb and release heat properly, and the compressor will have to work much harder. The evaporator coils of the indoor unit sometimes get dusty, and they can be blown clean with low-pressure canned air. The condenser coils of the outdoor unit are at even higher risk, potentially getting caked with dirt or having plants grow up around them. Trim away the greenery and wash away dirt gently with a garden hose without a high-pressure nozzle.
And when the time to consider replacing your air conditioner does arrive, we’re happy to talk through all your options with you.
Contact ServiceMax with all your questions about AC maintenance, repair, and replacement.