Previous studies found that a lack of maintenance can make HVAC systems 30% to 60% less efficient. These inefficiencies put extra strain on the unit and make it perform poorly.
Over time, all that extra strain can cause your air conditioner’s components to degrade early. Ultimately, the entire system can break down, and you’d need to replace the whole unit. This can happen to your AC well before it reaches the end of its useful service life.
To that end, we came up with this guide discussing the replacement of St. Louis cooling equipment. Read on to learn how often you need to get a new air conditioner and what you can do to prevent early AC failure.
How Often Do You Need to Replace an Air Conditioner?
Today’s central air conditioners have an average service life of 15 to 20 years. However, regular HVAC maintenance is a must for these ACs to reach this expected lifespan.
If you have a window air conditioner, you can expect the need for a replacement after five to seven years. Routine air conditioner tune-ups can help ensure your window AC lasts for more than half a decade.
Situations That Already Warrant an AC Replacement
If your current AC has been in place since 2009 or earlier, it likely runs on Freon, or “R-22.” That’s because it was only in 2010 when the EPA banned the production and import of this refrigerant. Today, only reclaimed R-22 is in circulation, and the lower the supply gets, the pricier it becomes.
R-22 is an ozone-depleting substance, so that should be enough reason to replace an old AC that still runs on it. Besides, modern HVAC systems are much more energy-efficient. According to the Department of Energy, these new models can save you up to 20% on heating and cooling costs.
Factors Specific to St. Louis That Affect Air Conditioner Longevity
While air quality in St. Louis, MO, has improved, the city is still one of the most polluted by particle pollution. Fine particle pollutants include sulfur dioxide, which, in turn, is corrosive to metal.
Now, keep in mind that part of an air conditioner sits outside, exposed to this corrosive air. Over time, the corrosive gases in the air can damage or even destroy this vulnerable section of your AC. A perfect example is the oxidation process, which usually takes the form of rust.
Solid particulate matter, such as dust, dirt, and soot, can also form layers of residue on AC components. This build-up can happen much faster in St. Louis, seeing as it has a particle pollution problem. It’s in the same way that your HVAC filters can quickly get filthy and clogged up, too.
Unfortunately, even a thin layer of residue can already reduce an AC’s cooling power. For example, dust impairs the evaporator coils’ ability to absorb heat. At the same time, dirt can act as a barrier on coils, restricting them from cooling down warm air.
St. Louis’ high humidity levels can also speed up the degradation of air conditioners. That’s because humidity levels of 50% to 70% are enough to corrode metals like steel and copper. The Gateway to the West fits the bill, as it experiences humidity levels of no less than 60% every month.
Strategies to Prolong the Life of Your St. Louis Cooling Equipment
The first thing is always to hire a licensed HVAC contractor to install your comfort systems. That’s because both installation and unit size can affect an HVAC system’s efficiency. If you get both wrong, your AC won’t only perform poorly; you can also expect it to live a short, bitter life.
Aside from proper installation and sizing, here are other ways to make your AC last longer.
Go for Pre-Season AC Tune-Ups
Don’t wait for summer to roll in before you get your AC professionally inspected and tuned-up. That’s because most other St. Louis homeowners book AC services during summer. If you join the crowd, you may not be able to secure the soonest possible time slot.
That can be a problem if your air conditioner acts up once you do need it the most. It’s more than an inconvenience, though, as high temperatures can cause heat-related illnesses. These include dehydration, heat rashes, heat exhaustion, and the more dangerous heat stroke.
A pre-season tune-up ensures you can use the AC without worries during the peak cooling season. It includes deep cleaning, thermostat adjustments, and lubrication, to name a few. Either way, all these tasks help keep premature AC breakdowns at bay.
Moreover, a pre-summer tune-up gives you enough time to fix AC issues before they get worse.
Don’t Forget Your Ductwork
Duct systems can account for up to 40% of heating and cooling energy losses. Unfortunately, losing even only 20% of your conditioned air can make an HVAC system work 50% harder. All that extra strain and stress can then cut the life of your HVAC unit short.
A professionally-administered energy assessment can help you assess potential air leaks. These include problems that affect the ductwork in your St. Louis home. From there, the energy experts can determine if duct sealing is an appropriate remedy.
Duct cleaning also helps improve HVAC efficiency as it eliminates airflow impediments. Moreover, cleaning your ducts is an effective way to reduce indoor air pollutants. Keep in mind that St. Louis indoor air quality can be just as bad or even worse than outdoor air.
Don’t Let St. Louis’ High Heat Get You All Beat
Air conditioners cost thousands of dollars, so you don’t want to buy one and end up replacing it in just a few years. That’s why you also need to do your part in keeping it well-maintained. However, it’s best to replace an AC that’s more than 10 years old (and still uses R-22).
Ready to invest in high-quality St. Louis cooling equipment maintenance, repairs, or installations? Let our highly-trained technicians here at Anton’s Air Conditioning & Heating help! Ring us up now to book an appointment or to ask any HVAC or indoor-air related questions.