What’s the Life Expectancy of Most Air Conditioners, Anyway?

Short Answer: It Depends

HVAC life expectancy, Service and maintenance
Remember, an unqualified HVAC installer can leave you with frequent system breakdowns and equipment with a shorter-than-average lifespan

Whether you’re a longtime homeowner or just bought your first house, getting ahead of future repairs and anticipating what might need to be replaced in the coming months is always prudent. And when it comes to HVAC, sometimes it is hard to know what to expect from an existing air conditioning and heating system. 

Here’s some basic information about this kind of equipment and how best to evaluate exactly how many more years you might be able to get out of this critical element of your indoor comfort. 

How old is your system? 

A lot of HVAC systems can last between 15-20 years, assuming no severe weather exposure, regular equipment maintenance, the relative skill of the person who installed it in the first place, and overall system quality. Knowing exactly when the system was purchased is the place to start. 

Next, who put it in? 

In other words, if you just purchased a house that features an HVAC system installed by a family member/handyman who wasn’t clear on what they were doing in the first place, you may already have a problem. The overall life of the equipment and how well it functions often depend on the quality of the original installation work. 

What kind of system is it? 

The size and type of system you installed also matters. Even a top-of-the-line brand is likely to wear out sooner if the size of the HVAC system was poorly chosen for the space. A larger-than-needed system has had to power on and off again many more times than necessary to compensate for its mismatched size and capabilities relative to the house it is supposed to heat and cool. This translates into more wear and tear, more frequent breakdowns, and nightmare utility bills. As you might imagine, going with a less reputable brand or something that “fell off the truck” to save money might also mean more expensive repair bills down the line. 

Has the system been maintained? 

The answer to this question is extremely important. If you haven’t touched the equipment or the air filters for years, there may well be problems brewing you don’t yet know about yet. Unfortunately, these issues may already be costing you big bucks in extra energy usage and imminent breakdowns. But never say never. If you start today with a great maintenance program (and change your air filters!)  you could add years to the life expectancy of your system. 

Finally, consider the basic rule we pass along to residential customers thinking about this question. If you’ve had your system for more than a decade, and you’re currently looking at repair costs that go past 30% the expense of replacement, you may save the most money by getting a new one. 

Talk to your HVAC specialist. Take a look at your equipment. You’ll gain valuable information about how you can ensure your family stays comfortable season after season, with a system that really works.




Does your residential HVAC system need maintenance? Call the pros at Air-Tro, the heating and air conditioning company Southern California trusts for all its indoor comfort needs. (626)357-3535.