How long does a central air conditioner last? In Maine, it could last a lifetime. In Phoenix, it may not last 15 years. Our hot desert climate and our usage all take a toll on air conditioners. Even if you had a system installed when you purchased your home, you may be facing replacement.

Five Ways to Know Your Air Conditioner is On its Way Out

These five signs could help you know the time is right to replace your central air conditioner.

#1 Its Age

Howard Air (Phoenix): 5 Signs its Time to Repace Your Air Conditioner - Age of Unit

Around Phoenix, air conditioners work extra hard. Our air quality is a known problem, so filters become clogged, particulates damage interior parts and humidity levels fluctuate. Most homeowners run their central air conditioners longer in the Valley than elsewhere in the nation. All this combines to shorten life spans. The other benefit of replacing an older unit is improved energy efficiency, which leads to our second sign…

#2 Your Energy Bills

Howard Air (Phoenix): 5 Signs its Time to Repace Your Air Conditioner - Energy Bills

If you notice your utility bills are climbing, your central air conditioner’s energy efficiency is dropping. You can expect this over time, but a sudden rise in costs could signal the system’s end. More modern central air conditioners can achieve far higher efficiency, as measured by Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE), with some models providing 98 percent AFUE.

#3 Frequency of Repairs

Howard Air (Phoenix): 5 Signs its Time to Repace Your Air Conditioner - Frequent Repairs

Typically, Phoenix homeowners will have an annual service visit and perhaps one service call in a cooling season. If you are on a first-name basis with all the technicians repairing for your HVAC, your central air conditioner may be so far gone a new system is economically smart.

See also: 5 things to check before calling an HVAC repairman

#4 Your Family’s Comfort

Howard Air (Phoenix): 5 Signs its Time to Repace Your Air Conditioner - Comfort

Plain and simple, if your home is not comfortable no matter how often your HVAC repairman visits and adjusts your system, your air conditioner may be too old. High (or low) humidity, unreliable cooling or hot spots in your home all point toward an uncomfortable home.

A recent change to your home, such as an addition, conversion of a porch to a sunroom or remodeling can affect performance. Your central air conditioner is sized to a specific square footage, so it cannot cool additional rooms.

#5 Strange Sounds & Smells

Howard Air (Phoenix): 5 Signs its Time to Repace Your Air Conditioner - Sounds & Smells

Grinding, chattering or squealing noises are not typical in central air conditioners. If you hear odd sounds — or smell burning rubber, chemical odors or other unexpected scents — contact your HVAC contractor. Aging systems will develop many unusual conditions, so strange sounds and smells can indicate the end of your air conditioner.

Need Professional Help? Howard Air is Here for You

For a professional evaluation of your system, contact us at Howard Air. We can inspect, balance and diagnose your air conditioner, and give you realistic options regarding its future.