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How Long Does an Air Conditioner Last in California?

On average, California homeowners can expect their central air conditioners to last about 15-20 years. For ductless mini-split systems, though, you can see an increased lifespan of more than 20+ years.

Installing a new AC is a big investment for most homeowners and you'll want your AC to last as long as possible. In this blog, we'll go over the different factors that can impact the lifespan of an AC system, including:

Heads up: Professional maintenance will play the most significant role in how long your AC lasts. To learn more, keep reading.

Thinking of installing a new AC system? Contact True Home Heating and Air Conditioning. Our NATE-certified technicians will give you honest advice that you can trust is in your best interest only. No matter the job, we take the time to listen to your concerns and then provide clear and upfront pricing on AC options that will serve you for years to come.

The quality of your AC installation

Proper installation is the best way to ensure your AC has the longest and most efficient life possible.

Critical installation factors include:

  • Airtight ductwork installation. Applicable to central AC’s with a ventilation system, your ductwork needs to be free of holes, cracks, or dents that could cause air to leak. Over time, if too much cool air is escaping to unconditioned areas like your attic, crawl space, or even outdoors, then your AC will go into overdrive and work harder than it has to. With excess strain, your chances of a system breakdown are higher.
  • Proper alignment of AC components. Be it your central AC’s outdoor compressor unit or a wall-mounted ductless mini-split handler, the hardware components of your AC system need to sit level. If they don’t align, you’ll have issues with condensate that can’t drain correctly, which can lead to mold growth and a host of other problems that can decrease your AC’s efficiency and lifespan.
  • Accurate refrigerant levels. The right level of chemical refrigerant will ensure that your AC can efficiently cool the air in your home (after all, that’s its job). However, if a novice or sloppy installer doesn’t accurately install your AC’s refrigerant, you risk putting excess strain on your AC. This could lead to increased energy bills, costly repairs, or worse, an untimely system replacement.

To avoid the expensive headaches associated with a poor quality AC installation, make sure that you hire a trusted HVAC contractor who’s not only licensed, bonded, and insured, but also has a proven track record of successful AC installations. When searching for a trustworthy AC installer, look for one that has recent 5-star reviews from fully satisfied customers.

The cooling capacity of your AC unit

If the cooling capacity of your AC doesn’t match the needs of your home, you risk needing to replace your system sooner than expected.

Here are two reasons why:

  1. An undersized unit won’t have enough cooling capacity to keep up with your home’s needs. Your home’s square footage may just be too large, or you simply need more from your AC than it can handle. When this happens, your AC will constantly be running, and the extra wear and tear will cause your AC to break down sooner than expected.
  2. An oversized unit will “short cycle.” AC’s have a set run time, usually anywhere from 7-10 minutes. After it’s done running, your AC will remain off for a healthy period of time until it needs to come on for another cycle of cooling. Unfortunately, when your AC is too big for the needs of your home, it will “short cycle,” meaning that the time in between run times is too short. This causes your AC to put out too much cool air, creating certain areas that are really cold, while others remain hot.

    Not only does this detract from your comfort, but inconsistent temperatures will lead your AC to think it needs to keep turning back on. Over time, this excess strain can burn out your AC’s compressor, which is the critical cooling component responsible for circulating refrigerant. Depending on what kind of warranty you have, a compressor may be too expensive to replace, and you’ll be looking at installing a brand-new system instead.

This is yet another benefit of hiring a well-qualified and experienced HVAC contractor because they’ll determine the proper size AC for your home by performing a load calculation before you choose an AC unit. This way you end up installing an AC system that will not only meet your comfort requirements but last as long (and efficiently!) as possible.

Whether you have routine professional maintenance or not

Annual professional AC maintenance not only keeps your manufacturer’s warranty valid but also extends the lifespan of your AC system.

During a routine safety and performance inspection, an experienced HVAC technician will be able to catch issues such as improper refrigerant levels, broken parts, dirty air filters, and other potentially dangerous problems that could lead to major repairs.

Why is AC maintenance so important? Without having your AC inspected, you won’t know the status of its operation or efficiency. For example, you could have a small broken part that’s bouncing around your AC’s compressor. For a short period of time, this would be relatively insignificant. But if left untreated, you could end up needing a costly, serious repair when you're least expecting it.

To save yourself the extra cost and stress involved, schedule routine maintenance with a professional HVAC company. With once-a-year service, you’ll keep your AC’s warranty valid, which will help cover any repairs should you need them.

Curious how much AC maintenance costs? Check out our blog, How Much Does It Cost to Have My AC Maintained/Serviced in California?

If you purchase an extended warranty

Most AC manufacturers offer a standard 10-year warranty on major parts and equipment. However, at the time of installation, you may have the option to purchase an extended equipment warranty, adding another 5-10 years to your cooling investment.

Depending on the AC system you purchase, an extended warranty could prolong its lifespan, given that you’ll be able to afford the cost of any major repairs or parts replacements that otherwise wouldn’t be cost-effective.

True Home Heating and Air Conditioning is a Lennox Premier Dealer, which means we not only offer savings on the most energy-efficient AC systems on the market, but we’re also able to offer the Lennox 10-year extended warranty to protect your AC investment.

That being said, a quality AC technician will value your needs above all else, and will never up-sell you on warranties you don’t need or want. To ensure that you receive honest advice that’s in your best interest only, make sure you hire a contractor who has a proven history of honesty and integrity.

Want trustworthy advice from an AC expert? Contact True Home Heating and Air Conditioning

We’ve earned a reputation as one of Orange County’s most trusted HVAC contractors. When you contact our team of cooling professionals for help with your home’s AC system, you’ll receive upfront, transparent pricing and honest recommendations that are true to your home’s needs and budget.