How To Look At A House
McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of
site-built, mobile/manufactured and modular homes
What is the average lifespan of an air conditioner?
Sunday, July 29, 2018
How long does an air conditioner last?
While not an exact predictor, average lifespan is still a valuable piece of information. Here’s the average lifespan for different types of air conditioners:
- Split System Condensers (outside unit) - 10 to 16 years, average 14 years, or 11 years in South Florida
- Split System Air Handler (inside unit) - 14 to 18 years, average 17 years, or 14 years in South Florida
- Ductless (Mini-Split) - 10 to 16 years, average 14 years, or 12 years in South Florida
- Package Units - 10 to 16 years, average 14 years, or 12 years in South Florida
- Window Air Conditioner - 5 to 8 years, average 7 years
Although the condenser (outside unit) of a split system tends to have a shorter life than the air handler, because a replacement condenser must now be matched for performance (by the manufacturer or certified by an engineer) with the indoor evaporator coil portion of the air handler, the evaporator coil unit may have to also be replaced when the condenser fails.
Regular maintenance is a good way to beat the odds and make your air conditioning system last longer, and most HVAC contractors offer a service plan with annual or twice a year visits. To learn more about heating and air conditioning systems, check out the links below to some of our other blogs.
Many people refer to both an air conditioner ("straight cool” or “cooling”) and a heat pump as simply an “air conditioner,” but an air conditioner requires an electric resistance heat coil or combination with a gas or oil furnace for heating, whereas a heat pump can reverse the flow of refrigerant to heat the home. Most heat pumps have electric resistance heat anyway as a backup for very cold days.
Here’s our comparison chart with the average life expectancies of different types of air conditioners, along with other appliances that provide heating and ventilation for a home.
Also see our article How can I make my Florida air conditioner last longer? And go to our blog post What is the average lifespan of the parts of a house? for rating of other house components. To understand the basis, potential use, and limitations of lifespan ratings, see our blog post How accurate are the average life expectancy ratings of home components? Are they actually useful?
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Field Guide for Home Inspectors, a quick reference for finding the age of 154 brands of HVAC systems, water heaters, and electrical panels, plus 210 code standards for site-built and manufactured homes, and the life expectancy rating of 195 home components. Available at amazon.com for $19.95.
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To learn more about heating and air conditioning systems, see these other blog posts:
NOTE: These life expectancies are based on data provided by InterNACHI, NAHB, FannieMae, and our own professional experience. Because of the numerous variables that can affect a lifespan, they should be used as rough guidelines only, and not relied upon as a warranty or guarantee of future performance.
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