With more than 25 years in the HVAC business, and having offices in three major cities in the Pacific Northwest, we get our share of surprising questions about air conditioning and heating. But some questions we hear over and over again by building owners and property managers.
1. How many years can I expect my new air conditioner to last?
After the warm summer and mild fall we’ve been having, many air conditioning units are still working on a regular basis. When they go into overtime and work longer than you expect into the season, its natural to wonder how long of a life you can expect. Most light commercial systems have a lifespan of about 15 to 20 years. However, your personal working conditions will play a big part in that process. If the unit is outside or on the rooftop, it is exposed to all of the natural elements we receive every day. Sun, wind, rain, pollution, even corrosion and build up of debris can cause damage to parts.
While all of these are taken into account when a unit is produced, there is also one more factor that can severely cut off the expected lifespan: neglect. You can’t expect something to work at its full potential if you don’t keep it working at its optimal level. It needs regular cleaning and maintenance, which means once before you start it up and once after the system is shut down in the fall, a professional should thoroughly clean and tune up the system for maximum potential.
2.Is regular maintenance really that important?
Yes, its one of the best ways to maintain its life. And its also the easiest. A regular inspection means having a trained, professional HVAC contractor come in twice per year and make sure your system is running efficiently.
When debris accumulates around the coils, fan blades, and other working parts, the metal corrodes and won’t work as it was intended. When it works harder, it can also lead to other parts having to overcompensate for the lack. When leaks in the refrigerant begin, system failure is eminent. And when the system isn’t working properly, it can also drain your energy efficiency, meaning you’ll be using more electricity in the process.
3. Can’t I have my own staff perform regular maintenance?
When you have general contractors on staff, its easy to assume they can handle all maintenance tasks involved in the upkeep of a building. Yet general contractors are general by nature – they know a little bit about everything.
Trained and certified professional HVAC contractors spend all of their time working on HVAC units. They have specialized skills and understanding to work on all aspects of the unit, and know what to watch for to determine if something is wrong. They can drain lines, check electrical connections, and provide a full inspection of all working parts. Your general contractor won’t know how to do all of this.
4. I’ve repaired my unit several times, is it worth repairing again or should I replace it?
It depends on several factors.
How old is your unit? The average life is 15 to 20 years. But if your current unit is 10 years or older, and it has a history of problems, it may be time to replace it.
What’s broken? Some problems are easier to fix than others. And even if your unit has broken down several times in the past, it could be different problems. Are they interrelated? Are they minor in nature?
Has your unit been well maintained? If your unit is cleaned properly and maintained by a certified HVAC contractor, it has a much longer life expectancy than one without.
If you own a building in Seattle, Portland or Boise, chances are you have specific questions that we didn’t touch on here. We’d be happy to answer them and help you develop a maintenance plan perfect for your business. Just call.