In the United States, the average lifespan of an HVAC system is 14 years. Of course, systems can last much longer or die off much sooner for a variety of reasons.
Your HVAC system is the heart of your home, working every day to keep you comfortable from the changing temperatures. Like anything, that continuous work takes a toll. However, there are some key things you can do to make sure your HVAC system lives a long and useful life.
How to Increase the Lifespan of your HVAC System
1. Regular HVAC System Maintenance is Key
The reminder to do regular HVAC maintenance probably isn’t a big surprise. Every year, your air conditioner and furnace should be inspected, cleaned, and tuned up. Spring is a good time to have your air conditioner serviced, while late summer or early fall just before the cold really hits is a good time to have your furnace serviced.
Typically, tune-ups include a complete inspection and lubrication of all moving parts, as well as condenser cleaning, removal of debris from the condensate drain tube, checking refrigerant levels, changing air filters, inspecting the heat exchanger for cracks, and other measures that make your system safer, more efficient and longer-lasting.
Additional reading: When to Service Your Air Conditioner (And How Often)
2. Change Air Filters Regularly
While your HVAC contractor should check your filters during their regular visits, the rest of the year this task is essentially up to you. The majority of homeowners use disposable fiberglass or pleated filters, and these should be inspected on a regular basis typically between 30 days and three months.
Even if it is ahead of schedule, HVAC filters should be replaced if they’re seriously dirty – for both your HVAC system’s sake and your own. A dirty air filter forces your HVAC system to work harder to move air throughout your house increasing wear and tear.
3. Get a Smart Thermostat
Aside from routine maintenance, installing a smart thermostat is one of the most effective strategies to improve the life of your HVAC system – and save money. A smart thermostat differs from a programmable thermostat in several ways, and these differences make it helpful in extending the life of your HVAC system.
Smart thermostats are simple to program and control from anywhere using your smartphone or tablet. Some models can learn your HVAC habits and schedule so they can make energy-saving changes without requiring any programming.
In addition to extending the life of your HVAC system, with a smart thermostat, you can also save about 10 to 12 percent on heating and up to 15 percent on cooling costs.
Additional reading: What You Should Know Before Buying a Smart Thermostat
4. Upgrade Your Insulation
Your HVAC system will last longer the less the system runs. In the effort to keep warm or cool air inside your home, insulation is your ally. If the insulation in your home isn’t sufficient, your HVAC system will have to work harder for longer periods of time in order to keep your home at optimal temperatures.
These more frequent run times put your HVAC system under more stress and strain, increasing the costs to both run and maintain the system. If your home tends to be drafty, consider insulating your basement or adding more into the outer walls.
5. Clean Your Ducts
Duct cleaning often refers to the cleaning of various forced-air system components, everything from the air ducts to the registers and grilles. Ducts are critical to your HVAC system and your indoor air quality. Cleaning your ductwork about every five years or so improves not only your indoor air quality but also the efficiency and longevity of your HVAC system.
6. Fix Issues in a Timely Manner
Regular maintenance will definitely improve how often you will need repairs but it still might not eliminate issues that crop up the older your system gets. When your HVAC is struggling, getting repairs in a timely manner will keep your system in tip-top shape.
7. Give Your HVAC System a Rest
The majority of HVAC systems have two fan settings: “auto” means the fan will only operate when the system is actively heating or cooling, whereas “on” means the fan will be on all of the time. While the “on” position may help you breathe easier, aiding in the trapping of dust and allergens it also makes your HVAC system work harder.
The more it works, the more time is shaved off your HVAC system’s life. Whenever you can turn off your HVAC system and let open windows, fans, sweaters, and blankets do the heavy lifting, especially in the shoulder months of spring and fall. At the very least put your system on auto to keep it from running constantly.
Pro Tip: Clean and Remove Debris from Outside HVAC units
Regularly check your outdoor unit. Your air conditioner’s condenser is located somewhere outside your home. Built to stand all kinds of weather, it is vulnerable to hail and windblown debris from severe storms. Check your condenser for signs of damage every now and again, particularly after a major storm.
If you’re really serious about saving money on your air conditioning bill and extending the life of your HVAC system, be sure to remove any accumulated leaves or weeds from around the condenser. While you are at it, cut down any plants that are growing near the outside HVAC unit and let your condenser breathe.
When to Repair and When to Replace Your HVAC
Eventually, all homeowners find themselves wondering if it is better to replace or repair their HVAC system. There are a couple of things to keep in mind.
Cost of repairs. Multiply the age of your unit by the annual cost of repairs you do on your HVAC system. If it exceeds $5,000, it is probably time to consider a replacement.
Age of your HVAC system. Systems over 10 years and that need frequent repairs are inefficient and could become a safety issue. Depending on the system, the average HVAC lifespan can range from 10 to 20 years.
Furnaces, for instance, can have an average life expectancy of 15 to 20 years so it is good to keep the age of your system in mind. Newer HVAC models will give you the benefit of technology advancements and energy efficiency.
The Benefits of a Jacobs Maintenance Plan
Regular tune-ups minimize the wear and tear on your system’s components, allowing it to run more efficiently for longer.
Jacobs Signature Club takes a proactive approach to prevent emergencies and save you money. We offer a number of preventative maintenance programs to keep your system operating smoothly and consistently. We’ve found the following HVAC maintenance schedule is the most effective:
- Furnace – yearly
- Air Conditioner – yearly
- Heat Pump – every 6 months
Every agreement includes Saturday service, scheduling reminders, and monthly payment choices. Our services and repairs are Energy Star compliant and in line with the ACCA standards. No matter what you need we’re always just a phone call away. You are welcome to review our statement on COVID-19 and how we’re taking precautions to protect you, our team, and our communities.