What is the life expectancy of old air conditioners?

The answer: in a perfect world, most old air conditioners should operate efficiently for twenty years or more. However, since we don’t live in this “perfect” world, a lack of proper maintenance leads to shorter life of air conditioners.

There are three major reasons for premature air conditioner replacement dues to lack of maintenance:

  1. Increased air resistance due to mechanical damage to coil (bent fins) or the plugging of the indoor coil (evaporator). What causes this plugging? There is an increase of dirt and airborne material that lodges deep inside the coil core that cannot be removed with a normal air side cleaning process. Improper filter replacement or cleaning creates this situation over an extended period of time. A plugged indoor coil causes a decrease in the overall heat transfer due to the insulating effect of the material inside the coil core and the subsequent reduced air flow.bent_fins
  2. Overheating. As described above, a similar condition could be expected in the outside coil (condenser) due to lack of annual coil cleaning. Reduced heat transfer leads to overheating of internal parts, oil compressor break down, and compressor failure.plugged_coil
  3. Corrosion. A salt laden atmosphere can cause external corrosion where the tubes and fins join. Visually this will look like a white ring around each tube in the coil. This means the coil is losing tube and fin contact thereby reducing performance. On the other hand, the coil will fill its core with the white corrosive byproduct thus drastically reducing air flowcorroded_coil

It’s very important to note that a competent maintenance specialist should review the problems that led to the premature air conditioner replacement; and possibly address these issues. There are possible modifications that could be made to increase system life, lower electric consumption, and provide a much better comfort conditions. Air conditioners are replaced all the time, and about 95% of them have never attained their full life expectancy. It’s important to understand why this happens. It’s just as important to not replace a problem with another problem. Maintenance is a key!

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