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Considering picking up a window air conditioner, but not sure how long they’re going to last?
I understand. These aren’t major appliances, but they aren’t cheap either. Who wants to drop hundreds of dollars on something that’s going to give up the ghost within a few years, right?
Well – here’s the good news:
Window air conditioners can last for about 10 to 25 years with annual professional maintenance. In comparison, portable air conditioners can last for 5 to 10 years. The actual lifespan depends on the usage, maintenance, location, and efficiency of the ac unit.
What Affects How Long A Window AC Lasts?
An air conditioner’s lifespan depends a lot on how you use it. That’s true for both portable and window air conditioners.
Now, allow me to break down that “usage” part.
Let me give you four keywords here. Size. Setting. Sustenance. Storage. 4S.
I’m talking about how you sized your window ac. That is, if your room’s too large for the ac’s capacity, then you’re giving it too much work. And with too much work, you’re wearing it out too soon.
An air conditioner’s power is measured in BTU (British Thermal Units). If your room is at 350 sq ft, your window ac should have a power of at least 8000 BTU.
For more sizing info, I’ve written a sizing guide for window ac’s here (and a one for portable ac’s here).
Again, if your air conditioner’s power isn’t right for your room size, then your ac’s going to have a shorter life.
Should you always set your ac at the coldest possible temperature? Short answer: no.
Instead, seek to stay cooler without turning up your air conditioner.
You can accomplish that by installing your ac in an ideal location.
So, where should you set your window ac? Short answer: Install it out of direct sunlight.
A shaded wall would be excellent. This way, you’re minimizing the heating of the air conditioner from sun exposure.
Also, set your ac such that you’re maximizing its efficiency. EnergyStar can give you recommendations on how.
When you get these things right, you can extend the life of your ac unit.
How well do you look after your air conditioner? It will reward the care you give it with better efficiency and longer life.
If you want your window ac to last longer, make sure it receives annual professional maintenance. A licensed professional can assess your unit thoroughly and unveil the factors that can potentially shorten the life of its parts.
Also, if your ac unit stays dirty, it’ll be harder for it to maintain proper airflow. Even the evaporative coil will find it hard to absorb the heat coming from your home.
Needless to say these ac parts crave regular maintenance. With neglect, the ac collects dirt over time, which, in turn, prevents it from running well.
P.S. I’m supposed to use the word ‘maintenance’, but I wanted to stick to the ‘S’ theme. Alright, now. Let’s proceed.
When the colder months come, that’s the time to winterize your window air conditioner. If you don’t store away your window AC properly, you can leave it exposed to freezing temperatures.
Excessive rain and snow can find their way towards damaging the air conditioner’s inside parts.
So, unplug that ac, clean it up, and store it in an upright position somewhere dry. To keep it from getting physically hurt (I’m talking about accidental kicks and bumps), store it away safely.
Well, at this point, I have to be honest. It’s not always your fault. I mean, a window ac dies because of several reasons other than misuse.
Why do Window Air Conditioners Break?
Over time, window air conditioners will break down. Air conditioners have parts that are not meant to hold up forever.
Eventually, you will reach a point in which repair costs will only be as hefty as investing in a brand-new unit. When that happens, it’s really time to part ways.
Anyway, let me point out the factors that eventually take a toll on an air conditioner’s life.
- The air conditioner refrigerant (the cooling stuff) has leaked out.
- And there are already multiple leaking ducts.
- The drains are clogged. (The moisture your ac collects are supposed to go down the drain.)
- The motor becomes faulty.
- There’s too much dirt and debris.
- The fans don’t work.
- Finally, the compressor fails. And that often gives your ac the death blow.
Now, some of these are easy fixes. We’ve got plenty of guides to help you replace a fan, revive your filters, and unclog the drains. But if your refrigerant’s leaked out, or the motor’s kaput? Your money may be better spent on a brand-new unit.
Signs your Window Air Conditioner Needs Maintenance
If any of these are what’s ailing your air conditioner, it likely needs some love and attention:
- It blows warm air. Not cool.
- Only very little air is vented out.
- The thermostat’s not accurate!
- You hear it scream. I mean, you hear those unusually loud noises.
- It doesn’t smell right. Whenever you turn it on.
- It still feels humid inside your home.
- The water is leaking. Or worse, the refrigerant
- The air conditioner is costing a lot to run
- The ac is already more than 10 years old.
Well, the last sign isn’t exactly a sign. Rather, it’s going to be a factor when determining how frequently you should set your ac up for a check-up.
And, your ac is probably going to be outdated if it has grown on you for at least a decade. If that’s the case it would be better to have it replaced.. rather than repeatedly repaired.
How to Keep A Window Air Conditioner Running
As I said, it’s about the 4S. Your ac can continue running well if you’ve:
- Sized it right;
- Set it properly;
- Sustained it with regular clean-ups and check-ups; and,
- Stored it safely away when not in use.
Now let’s try to be specific. If you want to maintain the ac yourself, you can do the following.
- Check the outdoor cover for insects or nests of small animals.
- Vacuum out the condenser coils.
- Inspect the condenser coil for any bent cooling fin. Straighten the bent fins using a coil fin comb.
- Check the foam air filter. If it’s dirty, then wash it with water and dish soap. Let it dry before reinstalling. If it’s been damaged, though, well, you’ll have to replace it.
- Inspect the water pan inside your ac unit. Clean it with a sponge as needed.
If you don’t know how to dissect your unit — or simply prefer paying for someone else to do it — there’s always a licensed professional who’s ready to offer you a yearly help.
Buying a window air conditioner is much like investing. You’d want to know just what to expect. And that includes how long your ac might be able to keep up with your needs.
It turns out that, much like investments, window and portable air conditioners need their share of monitoring. These units crave for your tender, loving care.
With moderate usage and proper maintenance, your window ac can last longer than its expected lifespan.
So go ahead and clean up that ac.
And before you go, let me just thank you for reading. I hope you’ve learned a lot from this article.
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See you around next time, and…