ac-unitsAir conditioning units are incredibly important when you live in a super-hot climate like Arizona’s. Air conditioning is essential to daily life — AC units run far more hours a day and more days a year than in other parts of the country. All of this use translates into additional wear and tear on an AC unit, which can potentially mean that an AC unit wears out faster than the same model used in Maine. Because air conditioners are also one of the most expensive appliances you’ll purchase, it’s important to know roughly how long your AC will last so that you can begin to budget for the next one.

Typical Air Conditioner Lifespans

An air conditioner’s lifespan can vary tremendously based on where it’s located, the “grade” or model,  and how well the unit has been maintained. That said, it is not out of the ordinary for an air conditioner to last 15 to 20 years in most parts of the country.

In Phoenix, because of higher temperatures and constant use, an AC unit’s lifespan can often be closer to 12 – 15 years, if it is correctly sized for the home and is well maintained.

Factors That Affect Unit Lifespans

There are several factors that contribute to how long an air conditioner will last in Arizona. Taking each of them into consideration can give you a good idea of how long yours will last.

Size of the AC Unit

For many years, the air conditioners in Arizona that were purchased and installed were too large for most homes. This is known as “overtonning,” and it was done frequently more than a decade ago. An oversized air conditioner – or an undersized one – needs to work harder than a unit that is correctly sized for a home. Oversized units cycle on and off more frequently than smaller units, which leads to more frequent maintenance and repairs. If you’ve had your unit correctly sized to your home (with the guidance of an air conditioning technician) before purchase, you’ll see a longer lifespan.

Regular and Routine Maintenance

Air conditioners are a little like cars. They need frequent and regular tune-ups to make sure they’re functioning at peak efficiency. If you get your air conditioner serviced every spring, you’ll be helping to ensure that it continues to function properly and that it’s less likely to break down or stop working unexpectedly. Regular maintenance and cleaning can dramatically increase the lifespan of your unit. Proper maintenance helps to catch issues early that may be causing the unit to work too hard. With all the effort exerted by your air conditioner during an Arizona summer, you don’t need it to work any harder than necessary.

Well-Maintained Ducts

Your air conditioner needs ductwork that is well-maintained and functioning properly in order to best do its job. Ducts that are dirty or leaking air can put a strain on your system that will shorten your air conditioner’s lifespan, while also contributing to higher energy bills. Having your ducts cleaned and serviced regularly can help extend the life of your air conditioner.

The Temperature You Set

You’ll know that an air conditioner in Arizona is working its best when a home or building’s inside temperature is around 30 to 40 degrees below the outside temperature. This means that if it is 115 degrees outside, the optimum temperature inside should be between 75 and 85 degrees. Lowering the temperature further can put stress on the unit, which can cause it to wear out faster.

Help Your AC Last Longer

Much of what contributes to how long your AC lasts is in your control. Be sure to schedule regular maintenance visits and duct cleaning. If it’s time to purchase a new AC,  have the new unit sized to your home. And make sure you set the internal temperature for your home in the proper range. These steps can help ensure that your AC makes it a full 15+ years in Arizona.