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Old 07-29-2012, 10:09 AM   #1
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Life expectancy of residential central air


I purchased and installed a central air unit for our home back in the Spring of 1998. This American-Standard unit, which appears to have a SEER-10 rating, has never given us any trouble and has never needed to be serviced.

I realized yesterday that next Spring will be 15 years since installation! Obviously a simple service inspection is well past due, but with its age is it even worth the cost? Or should I instead be considering replacing it with a current baseline efficiency model next year?

With the exception of this summer the A/C usually will not operate enough here in Michigan to justify the increased cost (and increased complexity) of the highest efficiency models.


Last edited by MI-Roger; 07-29-2012 at 10:19 AM.
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Old 07-29-2012, 02:12 PM   #2
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Life expectancy of residential central air


it should not cost that much to preform the summer maintenance on the unit. The average life expenctance is around 15 year for a A/C, but that does not mean yours won't last 20 or more. the oldest running residential A/C unit I ever worked on was around 35 years old. I currently see many units still running that are 20 + years old.

If you have a medical condition or want to limit the possiblity of living with out A/C for a few days and can aford it replacing it would not be foolish.

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Old 07-29-2012, 02:51 PM   #3
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Life expectancy of residential central air


Never been serviced? Not even maintenance? Find a local contractor who your friends or neighbors know is good and have them do a check up. It is cheap insurance if you can find a good mechanic to have it looked at once a year.
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Old 07-29-2012, 04:23 PM   #4
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Life expectancy of residential central air


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Never been serviced? Not even maintenance?
Yeah, I am a little embarrassed by this. The furnace gets a new MERV-11 filter every three months. The outdoor compressor/condensor unit gets wrapped with a single layer of fiberglass window screen from mid-May to mid-July each year to keep cottonwood fuzzies off the condensor fins, but otherwise no maintenance. The A/C system continues to just run like a top since the day it was new.
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Old 07-29-2012, 08:03 PM   #5
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Life expectancy of residential central air


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Yeah, I am a little embarrassed by this. The furnace gets a new MERV-11 filter every three months. The outdoor compressor/condensor unit gets wrapped with a single layer of fiberglass window screen from mid-May to mid-July each year to keep cottonwood fuzzies off the condensor fins, but otherwise no maintenance. The A/C system continues to just run like a top since the day it was new.
Amazing. Sounds like the filter changes and wrapping have protected it well. Some of the older stuff can last a long time if it is not pushed too hard.
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Old 07-29-2012, 08:15 PM   #6
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Life expectancy of residential central air


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Yeah, I am a little embarrassed by this. The furnace gets a new MERV-11 filter every three months. The outdoor compressor/condensor unit gets wrapped with a single layer of fiberglass window screen from mid-May to mid-July each year to keep cottonwood fuzzies off the condensor fins, but otherwise no maintenance. The A/C system continues to just run like a top since the day it was new.
well Iam from the old school...its never been serviced its 15 yrs old...its not broke don't fix it....run it till it dies...just my thougth..ben
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Old 07-29-2012, 11:14 PM   #7
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Life expectancy of residential central air


I'm afraid that I'm just cynical enough to believe that if you bring someone in to look at it now and especially if you tell them it's never been serviced, that they'll muck about with it just to prove a point and you'll start having issues. If the ports haven't been operated in all those years, just connecting gauges could leave one jammed open or dislodge some gunk into the lines and now you have a repair.

Just my 2€. I'd leave well enough alone at this point.

Last edited by Evstarr; 07-29-2012 at 11:18 PM.
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Old 07-30-2012, 08:26 AM   #8
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Life expectancy of residential central air


Someone else says, and I agree, old school, don't fix what ain't broke.

I have a hard time believing you don't do any other maintenance? Do you ever clean the thing? No dust, no mud? Do you cover the compressor over the winter?
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Old 07-30-2012, 08:35 AM   #9
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Life expectancy of residential central air


Well ... this is not a matter of being "broke", it's a matter of trying to keep it from being broke.

You wouldn't say the same thing about changing the oil in your car, I would assume. There's no difference in providing maintenance to your A/C system. As others have said, find a good contractor in your area - ask friends and neighbors, and check BBB ratings and such.

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they'll muck about with it just to prove a point and you'll start having issues
Given some of the incompetent crooks in our industry, I can certainly understand your point. However, in most cases those guys don't stay around too long, and tend to prey on the bottom dwelling consumer (the "I want the cheapest price no matter what" mindset). Homeowners who do their research, get recommendations from trusted family and friends, and don't shop around based solely on price tend to have very good relationships with their contractors.
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Old 07-30-2012, 09:29 AM   #10
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Life expectancy of residential central air


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well Iam from the old school...its never been serviced its 15 yrs old...its not broke don't fix it....run it till it dies...just my thougth..ben
Let me add to the "old school" phrases. When troubleshooting, "turn it on and see what smokes"
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Old 07-30-2012, 10:17 AM   #11
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Life expectancy of residential central air


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Well ... this is not a matter of being "broke", it's a matter of trying to keep it from being broke.

You wouldn't say the same thing about changing the oil in your car, I would assume. There's no difference in providing maintenance to your A/C system. As others have said, find a good contractor in your area - ask friends and neighbors, and check BBB ratings and such.


Given some of the incompetent crooks in our industry, I can certainly understand your point. However, in most cases those guys don't stay around too long, and tend to prey on the bottom dwelling consumer (the "I want the cheapest price no matter what" mindset). Homeowners who do their research, get recommendations from trusted family and friends, and don't shop around based solely on price tend to have very good relationships with their contractors.
I agree with you scott under normal reasons....this is not normal....it been 15 yrs no service...its about getting to the time to replace it.....when it breakes replace it ..no questions....ben sr
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Old 07-30-2012, 11:43 AM   #12
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Life expectancy of residential central air


I disagree with the when it breaks replace it.

read up on how basic systems work and you will be able to handle just about every failure, except a leak. Leaks are for the pros. EPA says so.

The rest is no more complex then a car and in fact far simpler. All you need is a working knowledge of your system to keep it running for another 15 years.
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Old 07-30-2012, 12:48 PM   #13
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I disagree with the when it breaks replace it.

I"m 50 /50 on this. It's true you can replace 90% of the parts and keep it running, but a 15 year old unit will be more costly to operate and work less efficiently as a new unit. It's one of those spend it now or spend it later issues.
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Old 08-02-2012, 05:51 PM   #14
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Life expectancy of residential central air


I am seeing a lot of analogies to auto maintenance. My car came with a book of regularly scheduled procedures. Why didn't I get a book? What regular procedures should be done with a conventional cooling system to keep it running for as long as possible?
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Old 08-02-2012, 08:53 PM   #15
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Life expectancy of residential central air


Most AC last more than 20 years in that part of the country. It only get used 2 months of the year the most, and only a few hours (some days only 1 hour) a day. Filter only needs to change once every year, or two years. (not hot air heat, so no filter for heating). I lived in northern MI between 1980-1990, My AC never serviced either, I only changed my filter once every 2 years. Never had problem.

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