How to Tell if You Need to Replace Your AC System Before Summer in Tallahassee, FL

It’s no secret that Florida is one of the hottest states in the U.S. With the maximum average temperatures climbing above 90 degrees in the summer months, we’re no strangers to scorching days.

What you may not consider is that these warmer temperatures wreak havoc on our air conditioners. Here in the Sunshine State, we have to run our systems more often and for longer periods of the day than people do in cooler states. You may even find yourself using your AC to fend off a sudden winter heatwave!

How long does an AC unit last in Florida? The answer varies, but you should expect a shorter lifespan than the national average. Let’s take a look at what to expect from your system’s life expectancy and how to tell when a replacement is on the horizon.

How Long Does an AC Unit Last in Florida?

On average, most central AC units are designed to last around 15-20 years. Other types of units may have shorter lifespans, with mini-splits often lasting around 10-15 years and window units lasting 8-10 years.

Here in Florida, however, the frequent AC usage means we’re eating up that lifespan much faster than the average. Throw in high humidity, extreme temperatures, and severe storms, and you have a recipe for serious wear and tear!

As a result, you should only expect to get around half to two-thirds of the average lifespan out of your unit.

For a central air conditioner, the average lifespan can be closer to 8-14 years, so you should start checking for problems more often once it reaches these ages. For mini-splits, start checking for problems associated with old age after 6-8 years, and for window units, start checking after 5-6 years.

This doesn’t mean that every air conditioner will break down early, however. Factors like regular maintenance, usage, the size of the unit, the manufacturer, the installation quality, and the environment the system runs in will also play a role in its longevity. That’s why we say you should start checking for problems earlier than the average, not start replacing your AC by default.

Signs You Need a New AC

Let’s say you own an air conditioner that’s creeping toward old age. How can you tell whether it’s time for a replacement? Here are a few red flags to watch for:

Frequent Breakdowns

The heat here in Florida is no joke. If you’re suffering frequent AC breakdowns, they can affect way more than your comfort.

A broken HVAC system in summer can expose you and your household to scorching temperatures and health conditions like heatstroke. If you can no longer depend on your AC, a replacement can preserve your health and peace of mind.

Expensive Repairs

If you’ve been shelling out for HVAC repairs over and over, it might be time to upgrade to a more dependable and energy-efficient system. Older units are more likely to need repairs and part replacements, and these bills tend to get more expensive as a system ages.

If you’re ever on the fence about a replacement vs. repair, use the $5,000 rule. Multiply the estimated repair bill with the age of your AC. If the total is more than $5,000, a system replacement is a smarter move than a repair.

Here’s an example: if your AC is ten years old and needs a repair that costs $600, multiplying the two numbers will give you $6,000. This is a time when you should consider replacing your entire system, not just patching it up with a quick fix.

Rising Utility Bills

Another cost to consider is your monthly utility bill. If you’ve noticed these bills getting higher and higher, it might be a sign that your system’s energy efficiency has started decreasing with age. In other words, you may be paying more for less cooling power.

R-22 Refrigerant

If you have an older AC that requires R-22 refrigerant, a replacement may be a smart move. Not only does this substance cause serious damage to the environment, but it’s also become more expensive now that its production has ended. Even if your AC functions well, you may pay an arm and a leg every time you need to repair a refrigerant leak!

The Best Time to Get a New AC

If you’re thinking it’s time to buy a new AC, timing your purchase well may be a smart move.

You can usually find the best deals on an air conditioner in the fall to early spring. Retailers are often trying to offload their high supply of air conditioners during the winter months, and the lower buyer demand may help you get a better price. In addition, few people are considering their summer cooling needs early in the year, which means you’ll have a better chance of getting an AC technician to perform an installation without a long wait.

This may not save you a fortune, but even a 5-15% discount on an AC can be significant. Because these units can cost thousands, every little bit counts!

Obviously, timing this purchase isn’t always possible. If you’ve suffered a serious system breakdown and need an urgent replacement, you can still find a good price by shopping around.

Consider working with a reputable HVAC contractor who can help you navigate the market and advise you on where to find the best prices. These pros will often also provide financing and special offers to make your purchase easier.

Get More Out of Your AC

If you’ve been asking yourself, “How long does an AC unit last in Florida?” we hope you feel more confident about the answer! Whether you have an aging unit or you’re trying to preserve the lifespan of your current system, knowing the expected timeline and the red flags to watch for can be crucial.

When it’s time to maintain your home’s comfort by replacing your old system, we hope you’ll trust the team at Key Heating and Cooling. With 24/7 service available for repair issues, our NATE- and EPA-certified technicians are ready to help customers throughout the Tallahassee, Bradfordville, Crawfordville, and Quincy areas. To request service, contact us today.

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