The Life Cycle of HVAC Systems: How Long Do They Last?


If you’re like most homeowners, you have probably wondered how long your HVAC system will survive. While these are long-lasting systems, the years will take their toll, and eventually repair or replacement will be essential for maintaining efficiency. 

Having an idea of how long your HVAC system will last is crucial because it helps you budget for a future heating and cooling system replacement. The lifespan of your HVAC system is determined by the type of system you have and the level of maintenance you provide. 

Here’s a look at some of the most common HVAC systems and their typical lifespans:


With an average lifespan of over 20 years, the central heating and air system furnace will likely outlast the air conditioner. When the heat exchanger starts to leak, the furnace is usually replaced. The heat exchanger is one of the most critical components of a furnace, and replacing it rather than repairing it is usually more cost-effective. A furnace that isn’t well-maintained is only likely to last 10 to 15 years.

Air Conditioning Units

An air conditioner part of the central heating and air system has a 15- to 20-year lifespan. In hot climates where the air conditioner is used frequently, the lifespan is typically in the 15-year range. When an air conditioner’s compressor breaks, it’s usually a sign that the unit has to be replaced. Furthermore, if the condenser develops corrosion or leaks, this is another clue that the AC should be replaced soon. An air conditioner with little maintenance, like a furnace, would have a shorter lifespan than one that is well-maintained.

Heat Pumps

The lifespan of a heat pump might range from 10 to 20 years. In addition to providing cooled air, heat pumps can offer heated air, allowing them to be utilized all year. This also means they are used far more frequently than the typical air conditioner and do not survive nearly as long. Heat pumps have an even shorter lifespan when used in coastal areas.


Boilers have a slightly longer life expectancy than furnaces, ranging from 20 to 35 years. When the heat exchanger begins to leak, they are usually replaced.

Ductless Mini-Splits

Ductless mini-splits, like heat pumps, may provide heating and cooling and have an average life expectancy of 10 to 30 years, except for coastal areas.

How to Make Your HVAC System Last Longer?

There are a few things you can do to make your HVAC system last longer.

First, invest in regular HVAC maintenance. A technician will inspect all aspects of the heating and cooling system during a maintenance appointment. The specialist will repair or replace any worn or broken parts as needed. This is critical for the HVAC system’s efficiency and longevity. You’ll notice a difference in indoor comfort when each portion is fully functional. Lower heating and cooling costs are also a result of increased efficiency.

Second, change the air filter regularly. This usually entails replacing it every two to three months. A blocked filter restricts airflow and makes your home’s heating and cooling system work harder than it has to. This increases your heating and cooling costs since it works harder and consumes more energy. It also adds to the system’s wear and tear, reducing its lifespan.

Third, pay attention to the landscaping around your home. Trees and plants should ideally shade your home’s western exposures. Trees and plants should be at least three to five feet away from the exterior HVAC unit. When plants or shrubs come into contact with the outdoor unit, it can cause damage and shorten its lifespan.

Wrapping Up

So how long do HVAC systems last? The answer varies based on the components your system employs. Professional installation and frequent maintenance can help extend the average lifespan of any HVAC system component.

Do you have any more questions about the lifespans of HVAC systems? Or do you want to schedule an appointment for repair or maintenance? Either way, get in touch with Mainline Heating and Air right away. We will answer any remaining questions you may have and perform quality HVAC repair in Alabaster, AL.

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