A common question during a home inspection is how old is my AC unit? Or, how long will my AC last? Home Inspectors in Florida do their best to provide answers, however, there are ways you can extend the unit’s life.
Below are the average lifespans of Air Conditioners in Florida:
Air Conditioners – Approximately 10 years. 15 years if you are in the center of the state or properly maintain your unit.
Trane Air Conditioners – Approximately 12 years. 17 years if you are in the center of the state and properly maintain your unit.
The reason why the AC unit may last longer if you are in the center of the state is because the unit is not exposed to salt water like homes closer to the water are.
The lifespans listed above are the average life expectancies found by home inspectors in the state of Florida. Trane branded air conditioner systems are expected to last about 2 years more than other brand air conditioner systems. Trane systems are typically much more expensive.
This lifespan is an average. Therefore, your unit may need replacing sooner or later.
Extending Your Unit Life Expectancy
In order to get the most years out of your Air Conditioner, you should have your unit serviced twice a year. Furthermore, there are things you can do as a homeowner to extend its life.
Spring servicing prepares the air conditioner for the summer heat that is about to come. Due to the high heat in Florida, our AC’s are running A LOT! Can you imagine if you had something wrong with your car and you drove it across the country? It’s the same thing with an AC unit! You AC unit needs an oil change (not literally), so spend the extra money to allow your system to continue on through the summer.
Your system is now entering the cold season. You need to prepare your AC to provide the high heat you may need, even if only for the two or three weeks we experience very cold weather. Just as stated above, if something is wrong with the heat, your AC professional can help you find it. Continuing with our car analogy, if you just drove your car across the country now you need to change its tires!
Consequences for Not Servicing
You want to save a $100? Great, now your AC will go out during Christmas or Thanksgiving when everyone is at your home.
This happens time and time again in the world of home inspectors. We complete an inspection, document that the AC unit needs to be serviced, it doesn’t get completed, and what happens? The AC stops working!
So not only will you have to pay for an AC professional to come out on Thanksgiving and suffer from the heat, but you will be charged more since it is a holiday.
There is another consequence though…
If you do not regularly service your AC unit, your air conditioner lifespan will be shorter. Ultimately, you will have to pay out $4,000 or more sooner rather than having maybe 2-5 years more if the unit was properly serviced.
Changing Your Air Filter
I remember I was completing an inspection and the AC was out. During that time the AC professional showed up and started working on the unit. I began to inquire about his knowledge and he told me a secret to extending your AC lifespan. What was it? Changing the filter. Yup, it’s that easy.
The filter stops dust, hair, and mold (depending on the filter) from damaging your lungs, but also your AC! As more dust enters your AC unit, it sits on moving components and hurts its performance.
Where is the filter?
The filter is typically by the air handler, which is usually in a closet or the garage but can also sometimes be found in the attic. If you do not see a vent like grate near the air handler, check the ceilings. It basically looks like this:
Be sure to install a high quality filter to take mold out of the air. You can find them on Amazon. Make sure you purchase the right size! If you are not sure about the size of your filter, measure the opening of your grate/vent.
Replace your air filter every 1-3 months depending on how many people/animals are in your home.
Keeping Your AC Clean
In Florida especially, you need to keep your exterior AC unit clean. You can keep your AC clean by doing these things:
- Keep leaves away from the unit.
- Wash the unit off with clean water from your hose.
- Ensure vegetation and other structures are kept away from the unit.
Keeping the unit clear of debris or other structures will help the unit breathe. The AC sucks in air in order to compress gas, so the more air flow the better. HVAC.com recommends keeping a 24inch perimeter around your AC. You should also look into the manufacturer’s specifications for your AC unit.
Moreover, if you are near the beach you should wash your unit off with clean water regularly. The salt air and high humidity can “eat” away at the AC unit which significantly reduces its lifespan.
When Should You Replace Your Unit?
This topic could be a full blog post by itself… but let’s scrape the surface here.
This is how you know you should replace your AC system:
The cost to repair is just getting too much. If your unit is having to be serviced frequently with new parts it may make more sense to replace it with a newer unit.
Your system is WAY past the expected life. New AC’s will save you so much more in your energy bill. If your unit is from the 80’s, just replace it! You can thank us later.
The average lifespan of an AC unit is only about 10 years for regular units. If you service and maintain your unit as a great homeowner, you can see a lifespan of 15 years or more!
This home maintenance checklist and schedule can help you become a great homeowner to protect your investment.
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