Air conditioners can last up to 15 years with proper maintenance and use, while HVAC systems can last up to 30 years. A replacement, of course, will be a big expense for your pocket. Therefore, it is important to take good care of your unit and get the most out of it. The size of the unit does not affect the lifespan of the air conditioner, unless it is not the correct size for your home.
Central air units will last 12 to 17 years with average use and good maintenance. They tend to fail before components that produce heat due to moisture that passes through the system and is expelled. The chemicals used in the system to cool and dehumidify the air, as well as the chemicals that the building materials of the house extract from the system, corrode the copper elements of the condenser and can cause them to erode and break. In states where you almost need an air conditioning unit to survive, it works around the clock for months.
And you're right, replacing the air conditioning system can be expensive, so it's a good idea to plan and save before air conditioning units or ovens need to be replaced immediately. The best way to repair air conditioners is in early spring; it's best to clean the ovens in early fall, before it gets cold. If the system is too broken to be repaired, the warranty will likely pay for a replacement system of similar quality within the policy's coverage limits. More expensive items tend to last much longer than cheaper ones.
To get the most out of your air conditioning unit, it is important to follow a regular preventive maintenance routine and operate it properly. California law requires a minimum of 14 SEER, which is likely 6 to 8 SEER degrees higher than your current unit if you are over 15 years old. In addition, with proper heat pump maintenance, sufficient insulation and professional hermetic sealing, you can enjoy all the advantages of an energy-efficient air conditioning installation for a long time, even for 20 to 25 years. The only way to know for sure if your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system is underperforming or is overworked is through a professional energy audit.
This will help you determine if your unit needs replacing or if it just needs some repairs or maintenance. Knowing how long air conditioners last and how to maintain them properly will help you get the most out of your unit and save money in the long run.