How to Increase the Lifespan of Your HVAC Unit
Here in Texas, the AC unit is arguably the most important appliance in any home. It allows us to stay comfortable in our homes year-round, despite the oppressive summer heat. However, there are downsides to this heavy reliance on AC units, such as electricity usage and premature wear and tear on our HVAC units. HVAC units, ideally, should last between 10-15 years. The nationwide average lifespan of an HVAC unit before it needs replacing is 12 years.
In warm climates, unfortunately, AC units tend to run down at the lower end of the 10-15 year range. However, there are some steps you can take to ensure you get the most “bang for your buck” from your HVAC unit, and that it lasts you as long as possible. Here are some ways to boost the longevity of your HVAC unit:
Schedule Frequent Tune-Ups and Maintenance
Regular maintenance is the best thing you can do to help increase the lifespan of your HVAC unit. You should have your unit checked and serviced at least once a year, ideally twice a year—once in the spring and once in the fall, before the drastic rise and fall of temperatures that cause your HVAC unit to work especially hard.
A regular HVAC tune-up will catch potential problems before they worsen, check for ways to increase the energy efficiency of your unit, and make sure there are no leaks or loose parts that are causing your unit to work harder than it needs to. A tune-up will also ensure that your ductwork is clean and unobstructed, allowing for optimal airflow. Don’t put a tune-up off for too long—regular tune-ups by a certified HVAC professional can add years of life to your valuable HVAC unit.
Similarly, if you notice your unit running differently from normal (running hot, making a new or different noise, heating or cooling less effectively, etc.), don’t wait before calling an HVAC professional to have it checked. It’s important that your unit is checked at the very first sign of a problem, rather than letting the unit run and exacerbate the problem. Catching and repairing problems early on will keep your HVAC unit functioning at its best for as long as possible.
Increase Your Home’s Energy Efficiency
Since AC units run to cool your home to the temperature you set your thermostat to, if cool air is leaking out of your home and hot air is leaking in, it will cause your HVAC to work extra hard to keep cooling the home. Any extra work should be avoided in order to extend the life of your HVAC unit and lower its energy consumption. Consult with your HVAC professional about ways you can help improve the energy efficiency of your HVAC unit. Here are a few ideas to try:
- Check the seals of windows and doors. Consider having them re-sealed, or installing new energy efficient windows.
- Check ductwork for leaks or worn insulation. Repairing gaps or leaks in ductwork, or having it re-insulated, will keep the cool air in the ductwork until it reaches the vents to cool your home, rather than having it leak through into the attic.
- Keep doors and windows closed at all times. Keep blinds and shades on windows closed when the house or specific rooms are unoccupied. The less sunlight is allowed in, the cooler your house will remain.
- Have a professional check the insulation of your home, in the walls and attics, to make sure it is adequately insulating your home from outside temperatures.
- Change your air filter regularly to make sure air is able to pass through easily. Most air filters recommend replacing every 30-60 days, although some specialty air filters can go longer. Even between filter changes, clean the dust off your air filter about once a month to maximize airflow and improve the quality of your home’s air.
Avoid Overworking Your HVAC Unit
In a climate like the one we enjoy in Houston, it’s tempting to blast the AC 24/7 in order to keep your home cool and comfortable, especially in the summer. However, running any appliance at full blast without a break will wear it down very quickly. Appliances, much like people, need breaks in order to recuperate and perform at their best. In order to improve the longevity of your HVAC unit, consider some ways in which you can set limits on its use.
Even just decreasing the temperature of the thermostat by one or two degrees while you’re home can make a difference in the amount of effort your AC unit has to exert. When the home is unoccupied, make it a habit to decrease the thermostat temperature by at least 5 degrees. This will keep your house cool overall, but keep your HVAC from overworking needlessly. When you’re out of town, set your thermostat at about 80 degrees. Anything much higher will make your home uncomfortable to return to and can promote the growth of mold and mildew.
If it’s difficult for you to remember to reset your thermostat regularly, consider investing in a programmable thermostat that allows you to set schedule that controls the temperature for you. There are also new thermostat models that allow you to control temperatures from an app on your mobile device while away from home.
Replace Parts Regularly
In order to get the most out of your HVAC before needing to replace the entire system, you can replace certain parts that tend to wear out more quickly. Replacing these parts before they break or malfunction will keep your AC unit running and may buy you some time before needing to replace the unit. If you have your unit checked and maintenanced regularly, your HVAC professional can guide you as to which parts need replacing before they cause a problem. Replacing these small parts when needed will improve the overall durability of your HVAC unit. However, as your unit starts to age beyond 12 years, the need for replacement parts will start to become more common and may just be putting a “band-aid” on the actual problem—which is the eventual need for an HVAC replacement.
If you’re buying a new home, or if the time does come to replace your HVAC unit, choose your unit carefully. It may be tempting to cut corners and purchase the least expensive unit you can find, leading to savings up front; however, you should consider the impact this decision will have a few years down the road. Choosing a high-quality HVAC unit now, with a well-installed ductwork and ventilation system, will last years longer and require less costs and inconvenience for maintenance. Overall, a quality HVAC unit will end up costing less and lasting longer than a cheaper, lower quality model.
Cruz Air & Electric
Don’t wait for a problem to occur before taking steps to ensure the durability of your HVAC unit. If you’re in need of HVAC services in the Houston area, Cruz Air & Electric is a trusted, locally owned HVAC contractor in Humble, Texas. Let us know how we can help you increase the lifespan of your HVAC unit today: (281) 446-4272.