When the fierce Arizona desert sun is baking everything to a golden brown, it’s hard to imagine life without a functioning air conditioner.
Unfortunately, air conditioners don’t live as long as people, and in the brutal conditions of Phoenix, Arizona, air conditioners can have remarkably short lives without proper care and maintenance. The average lifespan of an air conditioner is anywhere from 8 to 15 years, but it’s hard to say exactly how long any given air conditioner unit will last.
Certain factors can influence how long your air conditioner survives, including the size of the air conditioner unit, your duct design, the amount of use and how much maintenance your unit receives. The impact of these items can be minor by themselves, but when several parts of the equation are out of whack, your air conditioner may have a very short life.
How the different factors can affect your unit:
The size of your air conditioner affects how efficiently it works, as well as how frequently it switches on and off. A unit that is too small will run almost constantly in very hot weather as it struggles to cool your home; an oversized unit will have short cycles that fail to remove humidity from the home, which can end up damaging the coil.
It’s important for proper functioning that duct work is designed with the right number of air returns and vents for the home. If your air conditioner is struggling to get enough air to recycle or can’t cool the home efficiently because of poorly designed ducts, it’s going to run too often, shortening its life. Another big problem with air ducts in Phoenix is that attics can easily reach 165+ degrees. The extreme heat can have a big impact on the life of your duct work. Over time, the ducts can kink and seals can break, leaking cold air into the attic instead of your home.
Like anything else with moving parts, the more you use your air conditioner, the faster it’s going to break down. No matter how good the unit, the more it runs, the sooner it will need to be replaced.
Your air conditioner does its job faithfully, without any actions on your part — in fact, it’s basically out of sight and out of mind, right? Unfortunately, it’s that kind of attitude that leads to shortened air conditioner lives. Even though they don’t need a ton of attention, twice yearly maintenance is important to keep your air conditioner running at its best. Did you know that many air conditioner warranties are void if you don’t provide regular maintenance? Our units in the valley take an especially hard beating during the Arizona summer, that’s why air conditioning tune ups are so important. They can save you a lot of money in the long run!
Even if your air conditioner is brand new, you can extend its life by practicing good habits now. You’ll get the most out of your unit if you do just a little maintenance each year, including:
Plugged up filters make it hard for your air conditioner to work properly, much in the same way as improperly designed ducts. If your unit can’t suck in air efficiently, it can’t blow out enough cooled air to keep your home comfortable. It’s especially important to clean these filters during monsoon and haboob season when our air is more dusty than usual.
At least twice a year you should pull any vegetation off of your outdoor unit and spray it down with a garden hose to remove dirt and sand that has blown into its tiny fins. Vegetation and dirt make it hard for your unit to efficiently lose the heat that builds up as it works.
Like removing debris, adding shade can increase your unit’s efficiency. The hotter your unit is, the harder it has to work to cool indoor air. After all, the outside unit’s main job is to release the heat from your home, outside. Adding a large shade to units that are in direct sunlight will make them work better by keeping them cooler and allowing them to more easily release heat.
It’s tempting to run your air conditioner until the windows frost, but you may find that you’re just as comfortable if you turn the temperature up a little and use fans to help with cooling. Not only do fans make it feel cooler, they encourage cooled air to circulate more evenly. The impact of proper air circulation can be huge on how warm your home feels.
Once a year, have an air conditioning professional check the coolant level, ductwork and general well-being of your air conditioning system. This way, you’ll catch problems early, when they can be easily remedied.
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