Life in Florida requires an efficient air conditioner. Regardless of whether you live close to the beaches, in the middle of downtown, or in the countryside, the heat and humidity of the Sunshine State get unbearable — very often. Therefore, when it comes to your AC, you want to make sure that it works well and that it lasts as long as possible. After all, it’s a crucial part of your home life as well as a significant investment. But how long can you realistically expect it to work? And, is there anything you can do to extend its lifespan?
What’s the average life expectancy of an air conditioner in Florida?
The average lifespan of an air conditioner depends on the type of AC you have in your home. If it’s a window unit, you can expect it to last about 10 years. If you have central AC, this timeframe could be extended to anywhere between 15 and 20 years. However, these estimates can vary depending on how often you use it, how well you take care of it, and how often you schedule maintenance from an HVAC technician. Since most Florida homes keep their AC running around the clock, the most important factor then becomes prioritizing its upkeep.
What Can You Do to Extend the Lifespan of Your AC in Florida?
1. Change the Air Filters Regularly
Air conditioners can do wonders to improve the indoor air quality (IAQ) of your home. Things like dust, pet dander, dust mites, soot from scented candles, and mold spores often float around the air indoors. Over time, these allergens accumulate on the air conditioner’s filter. If it’s not changed regularly, it becomes clogged, obstructing airflow and causing condensation from humidity to freeze on the evaporator coils. In turn, your AC has to work harder to keep your home at the temperature set on the thermostat. To add insult to injury, this energy inefficiency also translates to higher utility bills. Therefore, change your air filter regularly. You may be able to get away with doing it every 90 days if you live by yourself in a small home with no pets, but if there are several people in your household, pets who shed all day, allergy sufferers, smokers, or you love to burn candles, get it done every 30 days.
2. Install Good Quality Filters
While clean air filters are always a good idea, not all filters are created equal. When you go to any hardware or grocery store to buy them, you’ll notice they vary greatly in price. This is because some of them are of higher quality and trap more allergens. For example, HEPA air filters remove more airborne pollutants — including microscopic ones, such as those from tobacco smoke. While they are more expensive, they don’t need to be replaced as often. They are also high performance. In fact, these are the types of filters that are typically used in hospitals, laboratories, and within the pharmaceutical industry. That being said, consult with an HVAC technician to ensure these types of filters are compatible with your home’s air conditioning system. Failing to do so can restrict airflow, in turn reducing the lifespan of your AC.
3. Clean the Drain Line Regularly
Air conditioners work by absorbing the warm air from your home, taking the humidity off it, cooling the air, and blowing it back out through the return vents. The water from the humidity falls into a drip pan. Once the drip pan is full, the water is siphoned out of the AC through a pipe called the drain line. Over time, the enclosed space becomes full of sludge and mold. Leave it like that for too long, and it can clog the pipe — once again, making your AC work harder than it should. To solve this problem, clean the drain line regularly. To do so:
- Turn off the air conditioner.
- Locate the drain line (it’s a PVC pipe by the condenser unit).
- Remove the cap at the end of it and remove any visible gunk.
- Slowly pour one cup of distilled white vinegar into the drain line.
- Wait 30 minutes before turning on the AC again.
4. Take Care of the Condenser Unit
The condenser unit doesn’t need as much upkeep, but every now and then, go outside and make sure that trees and bushes around it are trimmed. Check to see if there are any leaves or small branches stuck in the vents and get them out. If there’s a hurricane warning, keep it anchored and board it up or cover it with a tarp (making sure to turn off your AC if using a tarp) — if your home was built after 2007, it’s already anchored, per Florida’s Building Code. If your home is older, have an HVAC technician do it for you. Do not power wash the condenser unit, as this could bend the fins. If you see that any of the fins are bent, use a condenser fin comb to fix them.
5. Install a Dehumidifier
Although air conditioners absorb the moisture from the air inside your home, if you have a dehumidifier, the AC won’t have to work as hard to remove the moisture. During the hotter months of the year, set the humidifier to keep the humidity levels inside your home at 40%. When the temperature cools down, set it to 60%. The benefits of doing so are several — your air conditioner works more efficiently (and thus, lasts longer), your home feels more comfortable, you reduce the likelihood of mold growth, and your energy bills won’t increase due to energy inefficiency.
6. Clean the Air Ducts
You only need to have your home’s air ducts professionally cleaned every three to five years. Factors to consider are how many people live in your home, whether you have pets, whether there are any smokers or allergy sufferers in your home, whether your home has been recently renovated, and the amount of pollution in your geographical location. Doing so will ensure that air flows unobstructed, which promotes energy efficiency. This also reduces the likelihood of mold growth — as well as prevents insects or rodents from forming nests inside.
Signs that your ducts are due for a cleaning include:
- Inconsistent airflow throughout the home
- Air filters get too dirty too quickly
- You and/or family members suffer from allergies or congestion more than usual
- Your home seems to always be dusty, regardless of how often you clean it
7. Schedule Regular Maintenance
Even if you do all of the steps listed above, scheduling maintenance for your air conditioner twice a year will ensure that your HVAC system runs efficiently. An experienced professional can check it for any kinks or possible issues that may cause it to malfunction in the future — something that would be almost tragic during Florida summers.
Save Money on Your Electricity Bills With Complete Air Mechanical
At Complete Air Mechanical, we have experienced HVAC professionals who can ensure energy efficiency for your home or business. We provide services in Orange, Osceola, Seminole, and Volusia counties, and we offer financing options.