How Do HVAC Systems Wear and Tear? How To Extend the Lifespan of an HVAC?

HVAC systems are expensive to install. And although they can last for years, they’re prone to wear and tear. Learning how they wear and tear will help you know how to maintain them and extend their lifespan.

HVAC systems wear and tear due to improper installation, system overload, and lack of proper maintenance. Although wear and tear is almost unavoidable in every mechanical system, taking steps to reduce it can help extend the lifespan of your HVAC system.

In this article, I’ll show you how to reduce wear and tear and extend the life of your HVAC system.

How Long Can an HVAC System Last? 

Typically, the average lifespan of an HVAC system is 12-25 years. Several factors can affect the lifespan of an HVAC system though proper maintenance is the most important when it comes to the system’s longevity. Other factors include:

  • Where you live 
  • Extreme weather conditions
  • Size, brand, and type of HVAC system

With proper maintenance, your HVAC system can last for two decades. However, it can last for less than a decade if not adequately maintained. 

Signs of HVAC System Wear and Tear 

As much as regular maintenance is necessary to avoid wear and tear, it’s also essential to note and interpret the telltale signs of wear and tear your system may be exhibiting. Here are common signs of HVAC system wear and tear: 

  • High energy bills. If you notice a drastic increase in your energy bills without a corresponding increase in usage, there is an issue that needs checking. Generally, HVAC systems keep your energy usage and bills at a considerable amount.
  • Delayed response time. There is an expected lag between temperature change and response time. However, when it begins to stretch into minutes, there is likely a problem with your system. 
  • Reduced airflow. If the air from your HVAC system isn’t circulating, the system is probably no longer working well. This problem usually points to faulty ducts or a buildup in the vents. If you don’t handle this timely, it could affect your HVAC system. 
  • Foul smell. You should investigate any unusual foul smell from your HVAC system, especially if the smell lasts longer than a few minutes. Foul smells are an unmistakable sign of HVAC system wear and tear, and you have to deal with it immediately after noticing it for the safety of your home and system.
  • Strange sounds. Similar to smell, you must investigate any unusual sounds from the furnace or air conditioning system. Strange sounds could indicate an HVAC system’s wear and tear, especially if it’s recurring.

Read: Why HVAC Damper Keeps Getting Stuck Closed?

How To Extend the Lifespan of an HVAC?

Your HVAC system will not last forever, but you can ensure it lasts for a long time by doing the following:

  • Ensuring proper installation 
  • Regular maintenance 
  • Using an automatic thermostat 
  • Changing air filters 
  • Checking drain pipes 
  • Avoiding overworking the system 

Let’s go over each one of the above in greater detail.

1. Proper Installation 

It would help if you got things right from the beginning. Properly installing your HVAC system is one guaranteed way to extend the lifespan of your HVAC system. 

To ensure this:

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  • Get professional help. A professional installation is necessary to get the best from your system. Improper installation can prevent the system from functioning effectively or even at all. 
  • Use the appropriate size. The size of your HVAC system should be the appropriate fit for your home. This is so that the system doesn’t have to overcompensate to meet the needs of your home, thereby causing HVAC system wear and tear. A professional should be able to determine the appropriate size of unit for your home.

Read: How To Tell If HVAC Zone Damper Is Normally Closed Or Normally Open? 

2. Regular Maintenance 

Routine maintenance will keep your HVAC system in good condition for a long time and reduce how often you repair it.

Typically, regular maintenance involves:

  • Visual inspections. Your regular maintenance routine should include checking all the system parts for leakage, cracks, or other damages. Do this every few months. 
  • Cleaning. The components that often need cleaning in the HVAC system are the ducts, filters, electrical terminals, blower compartments, etc. Ensure that you clean these parts as often as possible. 
  • Flushing. Flushing helps to detect leaks. Flush the drain line to ensure that there are no possible leaks. You should do this regularly as well. 

To get the best out of your routine maintenance, you should consider getting professional help. This way, you will effectively reduce HVAC system repairs and save costs. 

3. Install an Automatic Thermostat

An automatic/smart thermostat can prevent your HVAC system from overworking and reduce HVAC system wear and tear. Additionally, a smart thermostat can adequately reduce your HVAC system’s energy consumption rate and save you money.

4. Change Your Air Filter

A clogged air filter can affect your HVAC system. The filters contain tiny pores to prevent dust and debris from passing through. 

However, the filter gets clogged after a while, affecting airflow, which often leads to increased energy consumption by the system. This increase is a common cause of HVAC system wear and tear. 

Furnace Filter Airflow

5. Check Drainage Pipes

Drainage pipes may get blocked, often leading to leaks. These leaks would not just affect your system, they may affect your building too. 

So, ensure you know where your HVAC system’s drainage pipe is located. Regularly check for any leaks and blockages.

6. Avoid Overworking the System

Overworking your HVAC system causes wear and tear, like in any other mechanical system. Use alternatives once in a while to give your HVAC system a break. 

Here is how to give your system a break or prevent it from overworking:

  • Use electric fans. 
  • Reduce the use of heat-generating appliances, e.g., ovens, dryers, washing machines. 
  • Keep your vents clear. 
  • Change the air filters. 
  • Keep blinds drawn. 

Read: Why HVAC Zone Damper Actuator Making A Clicking Noise? How To Troubleshoot?

Knowing When To Replace Your HVAC System

Knowing when to replace or repair an HVAC system is crucial. Some homeowners make the mistake of continuously repairing a system that requires replacement, while others hurriedly replace a system that needs a few repairs. 

To save time and avoid unnecessary expenses, you may want to consider the following factors:

  • Age of the system. The longer your system has lasted, the more likely it is to develop faults, especially from HVAC system wear and tear. So, if your system is close to its estimated lifespan, replacing the entire system may be better than repairing some components.  
  • Cost of repair. It’s best to replace a system if the cost of servicing or repairing a component is close to the amount it would cost to replace the entire system. 
  • Which component needs repair. You should consider the faulty parts before repairing or replacing the system. For example, if the compressor or heat exchanger is faulty, it may be in your best interest to change the entire system to avoid additional costs or recurring issues. However, if the thermostat is the faulty part, you change it without experiencing any future problems.

Final Thoughts

To make your HVAC system last longer, you must reduce HVAC system wear and tear. That said, other factors may affect the lifespan of your systems, like the weather conditions in your location and the type/brand of your HVAC system. 

Whatever factor is at play, proper and routine HVAC system maintenance is necessary. Therefore, ensuring that you or a HVAC professional regularly inspect, clean, and oil your system can extend the lifespan of your system.