A heating and cooling system is crucial to maintain your home comfort level. Any system will be an investment in your home, so it is not unreasonable to wonder how long you can expect your new system to last. This is a question often asked of HVAC specialists, but there is no simple answer, so we’ll explore this topic in a little more detail here.
Different Manufacturer Standards
Each manufacturer makes systems that are slightly different than other manufacturers, with one part possibly lasting longer than others. For example, a manufacturer may produce a system with poor quality compressors, which would significantly drop the overall life expectancy. In fact, in this scenario, the compressor can have a massive impact on the potential lifespan as it is one of the most costly elements to replace. Many HVAC specialists will recommend upgrading equipment rather than replacing a compressor, as it may be the less expensive option.
The Importance of Maintenance
One of the most important factors influencing the life expectancy of HVAC systems is how well it is maintained. There are a number of statistics based on how much maintenance is performed and the national averages, along with expert estimates. While these provide insight into the potential lifespan, it will not offer a guarantee of how long you can expect your new system to last. Your make and model of air conditioner may offer a higher or lower life expectancy.
There are several maintenance factors that can have a massive influence on the system lifespan. This includes changing the filters every 4 to 12 weeks, getting the system tuned up or serviced seasonally, clearing the outside unit of any debris and monitoring the refrigerant, replacing it when necessary.
If you perform none of the above maintenance tasks, you can expect your system to last between 15 and 18 years. If you perform 1 or 2 items from the list regularly, this can increase the typical lifespan to up to 20 years, while performing all of these maintenance tasks without fail could increase the lifespan to 25 years or more.
Exclusions to the Estimates
There are some exclusions to these estimates. These estimated lifespans are calculated for the average central air conditioning and heating system. If you use wood stoves, oil burners or other types of heating, your numbers may differ significantly.
Generally, oil based furnaces only last a few years, and they also require a great deal of maintenance to maintain performance. Despite this, oil based furnaces remain a popular choice as they are not as costly initially compared to other types of heating.
Geothermal systems generally last for more than 30 years, and if they are well maintained, they may outlast you living in your current property.
Generally, boilers offer a similar lifespan to central air conditioners, but they may last an additional 1 to 3 years above the typical expectancies.
Additional accessories or features can also have different lifespans. Humidifiers and dehumidifiers typically last up to 10 years, ventilation can last between 8 and 10 years. Thermostats have a far longer lifespan of up to 40 years, and you can expect your insulation to last as long as 100 years.
Remember, that each item will have a different lifespan depending on the type and brand, so you should consider the above figures as an estimate.
The Average System Life Expectancy
Most companies and organizations agree that you can expect to see a system lifespan of between 15 and 25 years. While some experts will say that you should consider that your system has reached the end of its useful life at 15 years old, others will say it is nearer to 25 years. In truth, the system may last as long as you want it to.
Maintaining your system well and having it serviced regularly will ensure that your system lasts as long as possible.
How to Tell When Your System Has Reached the End of its Lifespan
This can be a challenge, but generally, most systems will provide signs that it is reaching the end of its useful lifespan. When an HVAC system is getting older, you’re likely to find you are having breakdowns and malfunctions developing more and more frequently. You may also notice that your energy bills start to rise. This is because the system will gradually lose efficiency, so even if you bought a highly efficient system, it would be unable to deliver this level of efficiency as wear and tear compromises performance.
There will be a point where it becomes uneconomical to continue repairing your old system, and it is more financially viable to upgrade to a new system. This is a judgment call for every homeowner, but you need to assess the costs of repairs, increased energy use and inconvenience caused by needing to keep your old system running. At some point, you will need to bite the bullet and upgrade to a new system. Fortunately, HVAC equipment is continually developing, so when it is time to upgrade, you’re likely to find that new models are even more efficient compared to when you bought your current system.
Rely on a Reputable Professional
The key to maximizing the lifespan of your system and determining when your system is reaching the end of its life is to develop a relationship with a reputable and trusted professional. An experienced HVAC technician will be able to inspect your system during regular maintenance to check for wear and tear and perform preventative maintenance that will extend the lifespan of your system. The technician will also be able to advise you of your options to help you to determine the point when your system is beyond economical repair.
If you are concerned about the lifespan of your current HVAC system or are considering an upgrade you can rely on the expertise of an experienced HVAC specialist. A professional HVAC technician can assess your system and guide you through the options to make the best choice for your home.