How Many More Years Does My Air Conditioner Have Left?

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Your air conditioner still seems to work “well enough,” but it looks old. You feel like you bought it 15 years ago, but you’re not 100% sure. Should you upgrade it, even though it still keeps your home cool?

Your air conditioner can last anywhere from 10-15 years, depending on how much you use it and how well-maintained you keep it. So, if your unit is over 10 years old, chances are good that you’re due for an upgrade.

But how can you know for sure, without an odometer or a best-before date? Ask yourself these questions to determine if your air conditioner’s best days are likely behind it.

Have We Stayed on Top of the Maintenance?

Like your car, your AC unit needs a certain level of TLC to keep running. Get a trained HVAC technician to inspect things at least once a year. You can also do your part to extend the life of the unit by making sure the area around the outside air condenser is clear of any plants, weeds, or other possible obstructions.

If you inherited this AC system from the previous homeowner, you may have no idea how old this unit is, or how well it’s been maintained. If this is the case, you should get more information by having an HVAC tech inspect it. They can look up the model to determine its age and assess what type of shape it’s in.

Are Your Utility Bills Going Up?

This is a telltale sign that your air conditioner is not running as efficiently as it used to and burning through more power than it used to.

The energy efficiency of an air conditioning system is measured in seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER). Today’s new models will have a SEER value of anywhere from 13 to 23. Legally speaking, any new model needs a value of at least 13, or 14, depending on what region you’re in.

A SEER rating of 13-14 is great and the average residential home doesn’t need much more. However, an air conditioner unit from a decade ago won’t be nearly as efficient and that efficiency will drop with each season. If you’re looking to reduce your carbon footprint (or your energy bills) an upgrade may be in order.

Is it Showing Any Signs of Failing?

You always want to replace or repair your air conditioner before it fails, or you might find yourself having to go without it for a few days. Be on the lookout for any changes to how it operates, as this could be your warning.

If your air conditioner is making more noise than normal, that’s not good. It could just mean that there is a bit of debris in the fan, or it could mean that the engine itself is struggling. If your unit is emitting any new sounds or smells, don’t delay, call a technician to look at it right away.

You want to get as much life as possible out of your AC unit, so stay on top of your maintenance, and always look into small problems before they become major issues.