How Long Should an Air Conditoner Last in the Houston Climate?

Many Houston area homeowners want to know what the average life of a central air conditioner is in this area. They may be planning ahead for a new system or wondering if they should replace their current system before untimely breakdowns or expensive repairs occur. The quick answer is that the average life of a central air conditioner system, regardless of where you live is approximately 12-15 years and Houston TX is no different.

However, there are several factors that will either extend the life of the system or shorten it considerably. In this Houston HVAC article, we’ll take a look at those factors so that you will know how to get the most out of your Houston home air conditioning system.

Issues that Shorten Central Air Conditioner Life

These things may produce a lifespan for your AC that is shorter than average.

1. Improper Installation: Unfortunately, a bad installation job can turn any central air conditioner into a piece of junk. If the unit isn’t connected correctly or properly charged with refrigeration, it won’t function as it should and mechanical failure is likely to occur long before it normally would. This problem can best be avoided by getting multiple estimates for the installation and choosing the contractor with the best reputation.

2. Poor Maintenance: When central air conditioners aren’t maintained, small problems which would have been caught during maintenance may become large problems leading to the failure of the system. These can include issues like small refrigerant leaks, an excessively dirty condensing coil, or the fan needing lubrication.

3. Excessive Use: This one probably cannot be avoided. The reality is that a central air conditioner that runs from early spring well into fall every year simply won’t last as long as one that gets used moderately or lightly.

4. Being the Wrong Size: If your central air conditioner is too large, it will be prone to short cycles, and these are known to damage compressors.

Issues that Lengthen Central Air Conditioner Life

Assuming that your central air conditioner is the right size and that it has been properly installed, the best way to get extra life from it is to keep it maintained regularly. Most manufacturers suggest that their central air conditioners be checked yearly and serviced as needed. There is a long checklist that is covered during AC maintenance and it includes cleaning the coil, lubricating the fan motor or bearing if needed, checking for and clearing condensate drain plugs, checking and correcting refrigerant levels and checking for signs of damaging corrosion.

It makes sense to maintain a central air conditioner even if it is under warranty. The average warranty covers the compressor and all parts for 10 years. However, the warranty is usually limited to parts only, not to labor after the first year. Labor can be very expensive when a coil or the compressor needs to be replaced.

Secondly, today’s central air conditioners are up to 3 times more efficient than the models they replace. If you have a central air conditioner that is 15-20 years old it might make more sense to replace it now, before it wears out. You will begin to save on energy costs immediately. In addition, many high-efficiency central air conditioners are eligible for tax credits and utility rebates, reducing your expenses considerably.

Finally, it might be wise to replace your central air conditioner preemptively before it fails. Here’s why.

Being proactive will give you the opportunity to take your time to find the best unit, the best price and a competent installer. You won’t be rushed and will likely make a better decision. In addition, having your central air conditioner fail in the middle of summer can be expensive. You’ll pay higher prices when HVAC companies are busiest. If you have to relocate to a hotel for a few days because your house becomes too hot, you’re expenses will add up quickly. If you do decide to replace an older system, always get multiple written estimates on a new system. You’ll save money when contractors know that they are competing for the work.

Conclusion and User Feedback

This information can be empowering to the homeowner or building owner. It can help you be proactive about maintaining and replacing your central air conditioner. You’ll make better decisions and likely spend less in the process of keeping your home or business air conditioned.

How long did your Houston Central Air Conditioning system last for you?


One Response to “How Long Should an Air Conditoner Last in the Houston Climate?”
  1. Cindy says:

    We moved to the Houston area about 3 yrs ago and are stunned by the “lack of lifetime” on the A/C units here. Either our house got a pair of lemons, or we need to be re-calibrated on what is “normal”! We have 2 units for our house, and the units and house were both about 7 yrs old when we moved in. Less than a year after moving here, one unit had to have the compressor rebuilt. The second unit I swear has never worked right, and finally this year we replaced it when the compressor went on it. Both were Carrier units supposedly “right-sized” (definitely NOT oversized) for the house. Now the rebuilt one is dead. THis just isn’t the sort of wear to which we were ever accustomed. Granted – where we lived before, we ran the A/C for fewer months, and perhaps under less severe temps – but less than 10 years? Really? That’s the norm?

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