When you invest in a new air conditioner, it’s common to be focused on the cost of the system upfront, the energy efficiency of the aircon, and when can it be installed.  Once these initial concerns are resolved, it’s time to start thinking about the lifespan of your air conditioning system.

There are many different factors that impact how long an air conditioner unit will last.  These includes but are not limited to installation quality, how your use the system, strategies in place to assist the aircon, type of maintenance carried out, the nature of repairs, and paperwork in place from start to finish.

Fortunately, there are many things you can do to ensure your new air conditioning system reaches its full potential.  For this reason, the article will go through 7 key areas worth focusing on.  For each area, we will narrow-down information into 4 main points that can make or break your aircon’s expected lifespan.

Installation

Before you even install your air conditioner, there are things that can be done to ensure the air conditioning equipment reaches its full potential and lifespan.

Two workers in uniform installing air conditioning

Design/Size

Design

Before installing any air conditioner units, you want to ensure they form part of the most suitable, well designed AC system for any given application.  For a floor, ceiling or wall mounted split system, position and associated components installed are vital.  For a ducted system, layout and quality materials can seriously impact the longevity of your air conditioning system.

For a ducted AC system, with a network of ductwork in the ceiling space, it’s important that the system is designed and installed by an experienced ducted aircon installer.  Many factors impact the ongoing efficiency of the system, including zoning type and layout, ductwork size and insulation rating, supply/return air outlet size and number, and wall controller/thermostat/sensor location.

Poor design, inferior materials, and poor workmanship will cause the system to struggle and wear out faster as a result.  It will also cause endless issues and excessive power usage along the way.  This is true for ALL air conditioning unit types.

As a result of sub-standard design, you will need replace the air conditioning system sooner than you would with a higher quality and suitably designed system.  For the sake of a few dollars saved upfront, you can easily end up paying far more in the long run.

Size

Before installing an air conditioner, it’s important to ensure that it is a suitable size for the area it will serve.  This refers to the capacity, typically measured in kilowatts (kW).  Just like Goldilocks and her run in with the Three Bears, an aircon can be too big, too small, or just right.

If you put in an air conditioner that is too big, it will cycle on and off more frequently as it tends to overshoot the desired temperature, detect this, stop, wait for temperature to go the other way, and then blast out hot/cold air again.  This constant on/off and short cycling damages the internals of the AC units as they are designed for run for longer periods of time and complete certain cycles.  This means the internal components will fail earlier than designed.

If you put in an air conditioner that is too small, it will tend to have to run for longer and complete more cycles before it turns off.  It may not even reach the desired set point, meaning it continues to run non-stop!  This will cause the internal components to wear out much sooner as they never get a break, except when the system is not in use.  This is why server room aircons (running 24/7) only come with a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty, rather than a standard 5-year warranty.

If you are not sure what design and kW rating air conditioner you need, it’s best to chat to an experience AC installer about what sized air conditioning system would be best for a certain space.  There are many factors to consider, such as the size of the area (m2), heat load/activities conducted indoors, insulation/materials used in the building, and building/window/door orientation.

Unit Location

Indoor Unit

Before getting air conditioning units installed, you want to make sure they are going in the right location.  Otherwise, the system can be compromised and lifespan reduced as a result.

For a wall split indoor unit, it’s best for the unit to be installed:

  1. Back-to-back with the outdoor unit. Efficiency of the system decreases as pipework length increases, so you want to prevent excessive pipe run.  Decreased efficiency means increased strain on the whole air conditioning system.
  2. Centrally near the middle of the room without obstruction. Supporting even airflow and temperature dispersions with a central, obstacle free location reduces workload.  This preserves the AC system as whole and helps extend its feasible running time.
  3. Up high up on the wall close to the ceiling (~2.4-3.0m off the ground). Obviously if there are cathedral ceilings or similar, then the indoor unit should be as high as reasonably practical.  This recommendation is designed to complement the natural phenomenon of hot air rising and minimise demand on the aircon.  It also helps support optimal performance and allow reasonable access for routine maintenance.

There are also important factors to consider when installing a ducted air conditioning system.  Ducted AC units need to be installed in a position that supports ongoing efficiency, maintenance, and repairs.

For a ducted indoor unit, it’s best for the unit to be installed:

  1. Close to the manhole. This allows ease of access to the unit to support routine maintenance.
  2. Suitable distance away from the ceiling and/or beams in the roof. This also allows suitable access for a professional service, chemical coil clean, and/or repairs.
  3. Suitable proximity to supply and return air ductwork. This ensures efficiency is not lost through excessive flexible duct runs.

The ducted return air grille/filter that allows air back into the indoor unit is also important to consider.  This critical air re-entry point must be visible and accessible in a well-ventilated part of the home or office.  Otherwise, it can easily get blocked, increase pressure on the system, and lead to AC equipment failure.

Outdoor Unit

Just like with the indoor unit, before getting your new air conditioner installed, you want to make sure the outdoor unit is going in the best location.  Failure to do so can result in reduced AC lifespan in many ways.

The outdoor unit (i.e. condenser) is the powerhouse of an air conditioning system.  The harder it has to work, the less efficient the whole system is.  Running the air conditioner in a lower efficiency state causes the system to wear out faster.

To prevent this issue, it is recommended to install the outdoor unit a well-ventilated, cool, dark/shaded place.  This is because heat and sunlight can increase the unit workload as well as cause certain components to wear out faster.  Condenser pipework insulation is just one example of a UV-sensitive aircon component.

It’s also recommended to install the unit down on the ground, or in an easily accessible location, as opposed to a roof top or similar.  Not only does this help reduce sun and heat exposure, but it also supports routine inspection and servicing as the unit is then in a suitably accessible location.

Wherever the outdoor unit is installed, it’s important for it be level, clear from obstruction, and suitably secured.  If not level, the unit cannot work property and components wear out faster.  If not clear, airflow is reduced, causing components to overheat and fail prematurely.  If not secure, opportunist vandals or clumsy passers-by can damage the unit with a range of life-altering consequences.

Pipework

To ensure your air conditioner reaches its full potential, it’s important to ensure the correct refrigeration pipework is used in conjunction with the unit install.  Specifically designed pipework improves AC operating efficiency and prevents a range of issues.

Pipework used should be purposed for aircon installs; pre-insulated, UV-rated, annealed copper pair coil.  It should also be of the correct size for any given air conditioner and suitable length as per AC manufacturer specifications.

  1. The insulation component reduces sweating of pipes.  This is important as water is never a good thing to have around an electrical device such as an air conditioner unit.
  2. UV-Rated. The UV protection component reduces degradation in the face of UV light.  Unrated/inferior pipe insulation can breakdown and reduce system efficiency in as little as a few years.
  3. Correct Size. Undersized pipe will prevent the system from operating at is maximum potential, meaning the system can struggle to adequately heat or cool a given indoor area.  Oversized pipe can cause serious compressor damage and premature equipment failure.
  4. Correct Length. AC system efficiency increases as pipework length decreases, to a certain point.  While it is recommended to keep pipework length as short as possible, there will still be a minimum length required depending on the unit size and manufacturer instructions.  Incorrect length can also cause noise and/or vibration issues, which negatively affects aircon lifespan.

Drainage

Drainage may not immediately come to mind when considering how to extend the life of your air conditioner units.  However, it can certainly play a significant part in preventing unnecessary and life-reducing damage.

AC units produce condensate (i.e. water) during normal operation.  That water is collected in internal drip trays and drained away as required.  If your aircon is leaking water where it shouldn’t, it’s a big problem.

Excess water can promote micro-organism, fungi, and bacterial growth within an aircon unit.  This can cause mould and matter to build up on the coil, fan scroll, filters, and other AC components.  This reduces airflow and increases workload of an air conditioning system, impacting its expected lifespan if not resolved in a timely manner.

Failure to install a drip or safety tray, or suitable drainage, means that water may not be collected at the indoor unit and/or suitably drained away.  This can result in water overflowing onto AC electrical components.  As we all know, water and electrical do not mix.  Modern-day aircons are heavily electrically based, so water can cause significant damage to components such as printed circuit boards, capacitors, controls, etc.

Water can also damage structural or supportive components of the air conditioning system.  For example, water can compromise the structural integrity of the wall, floor, or ceiling below the unit.  As a result, the aircon may become unlevel or fall completely.  Unlevel units wear out faster or may fail to operate correctly at all.  Meanwhile, a complete fall could see the end of that particular AC unit.

Usage

Once your air conditioner is installed, there are many ways you can preserve the equipment and extend the lifespan of the system as a whole.

Woman with wall-mounted AC control

Controller/Temperature Sensors

Heat Load

Usage of an AC controller and temperature sensors can make or break the lifespan of any air conditioning system.  Incorrect usage can prevent correct system operation, increase workload, and waste power.  On the other hand, correct usage can extend lifespan and save you significant money in the process.

The air conditioner controller can also double as a temperature-sensing point.  This is often the case for entry-level ducted systems.  An increase in heat load near a temperature sensing component of the AC system will result in excessive cooling and subsequent workload for the AC system.

Once correctly installed, the area around sensors and temperature-sensing wall controllers must be considered.  It is recommended to avoid placing anything producing excessive heat in close proximity.  This includes common home devices such as washers, computers, TV screens, phone chargers, etc.  Direct sunlight must also be monitored and managed.

Set Point

Once the area around the temperature-sensing point is managed, the next consideration should be the temperature set point.  Minimising excessive usage of the air conditioner helps with preservation and system longevity.

Standard home air conditioners are designed to run at full capacity or idle.  They continue to work at full capacity until they detect that a given set point is reached.  At this point, they can then ramp down and reduce demand on the air conditioning system as a whole.

It is recommended to set the air conditioner to a temperature as close to the outdoor temperature as possible.  Some change is obviously expected, otherwise why would you use the AC, but every degree counts.  Not only is the system running life extended as a result, but aircon running costs are also reduced by 10% for every degree the set point is set closer to the ambient temperature.

Settings

Mode

The modes selected when running an air conditioner can reduce or enhance the expected lifespan of that system.  It is one of simplest ways to extend the life of your air conditioning units.

It is recommended to avoid Auto mode most if not all of the time.  Auto mode causes the aircon to automatically switch between Cool and Heat modes with the aim of steadily maintain a given set point.  This is an inefficient use of the AC system which unnecessary causes it to wear out faster.  Heat mode or Cool mode is recommended to be used instead.

There are other modes that can help enhance your air conditioner and its lifespan.  Dry mode increases the amount of air passing through the indoor unit, designed to remove moisture from the air rather than cooling it.  This this a more efficient mode that reduces power usage and demand on the system.

Fan mode is another more efficient mode available to preserve your air conditioner.  It allows air movement without inherent temperature adjustment or dehumidification.  It is one of the best modes available for extending the life of your air conditioner units.

Many aircons also have a Sleep mode or Night mode which can help extend the life of both you and your air conditioning system.  Sleep/Night mode increases temperature gradually by a few degrees, 0.5 – 1 degree at a time, to reduce demand on the aircon units without impacting your sleep.

Fan speed

Fan speed has a surprising impact on air conditioner energy efficiency and therefore system lifespan.  Fan speed refers to the speed of air travelling through the indoor unit, i.e. over the internal heat exchanger coil and subsequently blown out into the room/s.

Using high fan speed is recommended to rapidly and efficiency cool down a given indoor area.  This is the recommended way to bring up or down the temperature indoors to support your air conditioner and prevent unnecessary strain.  Once the desired comfort level is reached, fan speed can then be adjusted down to maintain the temperature.

Overnight, low fan speed it recommended as temperature maintenance is often the goal and the outdoor temperature often decreases significantly.  If it is a particularly humid day, and/or moisture removal is the primary goal, then low fan speed is also recommended for use.  This allows more time for the indoor unit to remove moisture from the air before it leaves the unit and enters the indoor environment.

Timers/Reminders

Timers and reminders are handy to have in an air conditioner unit as they help you manage its usage and extend its life.  Not all aircons come with timers, so it’s worth ensuring your chosen system has one before making the final purchase and installation.

Timers can be basic, push-button operated, controllable over Wi-Fi, or even integrated into a complete home automation system (e.g. Google Nest).  The set and forget type timers may be the most beneficial, with life being so busy these days that few of us have time to stop and think about the aircon schedule on a daily basis.

Reminders also come in various forms, from basic “filter check/wash required” reminders through to “time for professional service” reminders.  These help to maintain the system overall and keep it in good working order.  The key is to actually action the task prompted; there is no point having a filter check/wash reminder come up if you just clear it without touching the filter!

Once installed and familiar with, the next step is to actually use them.  Timers can help manage demand on AC units at key times, such as when sleeping or out of the house.  As indoor climate requirements change, so should use of the air conditioner system to match.  By doing this, the system is preserved and life extended.

In a commercial setting, timers and reminders can contribute to significant life extension of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system.  Timers can be used to switch off units out of business hours, while reminders can prevent AC system neglect and assist with routine HVAC maintenance.  These benefits can significantly extend the life of any commercial system.

Additional Features

Timers and reminders aside, new air conditioning units come with a range additional features; some designed for convenience, some designed to enhance performance, and some designed to protect the aircon.  Better yet, some features can provide a combination of these benefits.

Control over Wi-Fi, typically via a smart phone App, is one of those features that has many benefits.  Convenience aside, being able to check and control an AC system remotely can support you in optimal running of the system.  For example, you can pre-cool the home gradually before you get home, rather than overloading the AC when you walk in the door on a hot day.  Similarly, you can check in on the teenage kids at home on school holidays and ensure they are not demanding excessive cooling or heating from the air conditioning system.

Many modern-day air conditioner units also have an Auto or Self Clean function inbuilt.  This function typically involves drying out the inside of an aircon unit, which preserves the internal components in many ways.  Moisture management reduces the growth of mould, mildew, fungi, and other unwanted microorganisms.  It also reduces rust and corrosion that would otherwise damage key components such as the heat exchange coil.

Assisting

Air conditioning units can be preserved by considering their place in the home as a whole, rather than in isolation.  There are many cost-effective methods of supporting the air conditioning system in place and extending its lifespan as a result.

Ceiling fan and air conditioning

Building

Air conditioning systems are best supported when used in a building environment that holds the hot or cold climate produced.  Insulation and window treatments are two key factors that have a significant impact on indoor temperature retention.

Insulation can be present in the ceiling, walls, floor, or combination of these locations within a building.  The impact of insulation is significant, with an insulated roof space saving you up to 50% on your home heating bill!  This saving shows just how much the demand on the AC system can be reduced.

Window treatments come in all shapes and forms, including blinds, curtains, shutters, tinting, or a combination of these.  Windows can allow significant heat to enter and leave an indoor space, and an imposed barrier can dramatically reduce any unwanted exchange. As a result, the air conditioning system doesn’t have to work as hard or for as long to achieve desired comfort level indoors.

Fans

Many properties have air conditioning installed without fans, thinking that fans are not required when aircon is in place.  However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.  The reality is that fans are needed, especially in hotter climates, to assist and help preserve air conditioner units.  They are in fact one of the cheapest ways to extend the life your aircon.  If not already installed, it would be well worth contacting a local electrician today.

Fans help to circulate air in a given space.  While they may not inherently change the temperature of the air, they help people in the space feel cooler due to the cooling effect produced.  As a result, demand on the AC is reduced as a higher set point can be comfortable with the presence of air movement.

Whirlybirds and other roof-mounted exhaust fans can also assist your air conditioner units in a different way.  These out-of-sight fans are designed to extract heat at the top of the house, lowering the temperature in the ceiling space.  As a result, the rooms below the ceiling space (i.e. indoor space) will automatically be cooler.  This will subsequently reduce demand on the air conditioner, as the rooms are already closer to the desired temperature.

Heat Load

Heat or cooling load refers to the amount of temperature adjustment required to maintain a given temperature set point.  The higher the heat load, the higher the demand on the air conditioner.  Therefore, it is recommended to manage heat load in order to extend the lifespan of air conditioning equipment.

Using heat-producing devices when an aircon is already under significant pressure should be avoided wherever possible.  For example, cooking sausages on the outdoor BBQ on a hot summer evening, rather than in the kitchen, helps to reduce the indoor heat load and subsequent demand on the AC system.

Running clothes and/or dish washers in the morning before the weather heats up is another way to assist your air conditioner.  Further methods include turning off lights when not needed, especially non-LED ones, and putting the extraction fan on when showering/bathing.

By reducing heat load indoors, especially when the AC is working at is max, you can reduce workload required from the device.  This prevents the air conditioner from being maxed out and protects the internal components.  As a result, you can expect to enjoy the aircon in your life for many more years.

Surrounding Area

The area around an air conditioner unit is just as important as use of the device itself.  A clear, well-ventilated space around all units is required to ensure an aircon reaches its expected age.  This can be difficult as standard house block sizes are decreasing and storage space is becoming limited.

The minimum clearance zone around an outdoor condensing unit is typically 300mm, with 1000mm required in front of the unit.  The area between the back of the unit and a wall may be slightly less but must still comply with manufacturer install recommendations.  Failure to do this causes reduced airflow and operating efficiency.  This can see an air con system over-worked, over-heated, and all over before its time.

Not only can items around the condenser impact the unit, but it can also invite unwanted flora and fauna damage.  While certain greenery can protect your aircon, like a shady tree over the unit, it can also harm it if neglected and allowed to grow into the unit itself.  Furthermore, animals feeding on or living in the garden can interact with the air con unit in several life-shortening or even life-ending ways (unfortunately for both parties).

DIY AC Servicing

One of the most effective ways of extending the life of your air conditioner units is servicing them.  Just like your car, your aircon requires a minimum amount of maintenance to get it through an expected lifespan.

Cleaning air conditioning filter

Frequency

DIY maintenance starts with regular filter checking, every few weeks, and washing when dirty.  It’s also recommended to check them after dirt or dust generating activities, such as spring cleaning, renovating or moving furniture.  More on filters later.

Aside from filter washing, there are many other simple aircon maintenance tasks that should be carried out routinely.  These tasks are designed to keep your air conditioning system working as designed, which helps it reach or even exceed predicted lifespan.

In a commercial setting, routine HVAC servicing is recommended monthly as Australian Standards.  Home air conditioners could also benefit from monthly maintenance, however every four to twelve months is typically sufficient.

The basic tests, checks, and cleaning recommended to maintain your own air conditioner has many benefits.  In relation to life extension, DIY aircon servicing allow for minor issues to be detected and resolved before they cause major damage.  It also supports optimal AC function and efficiency, which helps preserve major internal components.

Filter Maintenance

Filter maintenance is the number one service task you can do yourself to protect and preserve your air conditioning system.  However, there are more to filters than you may think.

Type

Firstly, it’s important to ensure the correct filter type is used with your AC system.  Types to consider, particularly for a commercial HVAC system, include manufacturer-specific, full/half ceiling tile panel, pleated, pocket, v-form, HEPA, or carbon.

The next consideration is the media type; washable or disposable.  Factors such as access, water availability (for washing), and finances (for purchasing disposable ones) impact which type is most suitable to support your particular aircon system.

Next point to consider is media/filter thickness.  There are clear Australian Standards for suitable air filter design and use in Australia depending on unit type and application.  To ensure correct AC operation, the filters should let air through to the indoor unit but be thick enough to suitably filter the air.

Clean/Replace

Filter cleaning is one of the most effective ways to maintain your air conditioner and ensure a long and healthy life.   Dirty filters increase air conditioner workload by 15% as evidenced by power draw.

Dirty or damaged filters prevent dirt, dust, dander, and other types of matter from being filtered property.  These can reach and/or build up in the indoor unit, which impacts aircons in many ways.  It promotes the build-up of dust, mould, mildew, fungi, and other microorganisms that reduces heat exchange on the evaporator coil, increasing strain on the system.  It also spreads dirty air, which is not only bad for your health but also for the health of your aircon system.

While it is a far less common issue, it is worth noting that filters can actually be washed too much.  This is more commonly seen with commercial HVAC systems, where business owners may insist on monthly filter washing even when a system is hardly used.  The media wears out over time, especially with washing.  This may not be a life-impacting issue for your aircon system UNLESS you fail to replace the filter when required, which may be sooner than expected with over-washing.

When a filter has worn out, it’s important to replace it or at least the filter media.  You can tell that a filter needs to be replaced when it is wearing thin in parts and/or light is more visible when you hold it up to a light source.  Failure to replace a relatively inexpensive part can see major aircon repair expense due to component damage, failure, or complete AC system failure.  An experienced HVAC technician can help you decide when filter replacement is due, as it can be a fine line between premature and overdue replacement.

Water/Cleaning

We all know that water and electricity do not mix.  The same can be said of electrically based devices such as air conditioners.  Water damage to AC components such as capacitors, PC boards, and motors can have life-shortening or even life-ending consequences for the system.  It can also cause corrosion and rust.

It’s not as simple as you may think, as some water is unavoidable when it comes to aircons.  Condensation (water) is produced as a normal part of refrigeration cycle.  It’s just a matter of managing the presence and use of water in order to maintain the air conditioning system.

As with filters, certain components of your AC system require inspection and cleaning when dirty.  For an indoor unit this includes the drain pipe/tray, fascia/covers, air inlets/outlets, fan barrel/scroll, and evaporator coil.  For an outdoor unit this can also include the drain, covers, coil, and area immediately around the unit.

Failure to keep these components clean can result in reduced heat transfer, reduce airflow, and reduce efficiency of air conditioner units, which shortens their life.  In the drains, all manner of blockages can occur, including algae, mould, sludge, insects, and even materials such as insulation.  To clean the various components, it’s recommended to use as little water as possible and the correct equipment for the job.

You also required complete knowledge of the electrical components (both directly and indirectly) involved in the area being cleaned to avoid harm to you and the air conditioner.  If you are not 100% sure, it may pay to call in a professional aircon service technician for such work, to avoid damage to the AC system you are looking to preserve, as well as yourself!  They also carry special chemicals and equipment designed to not only clean the system but slow future growth of mould and algae.

Visual Checking

Visual checking is one of the safest ways to maintain and extend the life of your air conditioner units.  It allows for issues to be detected while minimising the risk of physically harm.  Just take extra care if need to use a ladder or similar to access the aircon units.

When looking over the air conditioner, look at all visible parts of the system.  It is recommended to look for exposed electrical components, cracked insulation, water droplets or leaking in abnormal places, smoke or dust coming from the units, any signs of vibration or movement, and wearing/degradation in general.  You can also listen out for any abnormal noises, including banging, whistling, humming, squealing, gurgling, buzzing, rattling, etc.

It is recommended not to insert any foreign objects into the air conditioner while checking it.  This includes torches, sticks, screw drivers, brushes, and especially fingers.  Otherwise, damage can occur to AC components, the whole aircon system, the item you are inserting, yourself, and/or those around you.  Air conditioner damage can be as minor as a scratch or as major as complete system failure.

Professional HVAC Maintenance

While you can carry out a certain degree of maintenance yourself, there are some tasks that are best left to the experts.  It also pays to invest in a professional air conditioning service on a routine basis to help extend the life of your air conditioning system.

Technician checking air conditioner

Frequency

If DIY maintenance is routinely carried out on your air conditioner, professional maintenance is typically not required as frequently as if no home servicing has been conducted.  This home aircon servicing includes frequent filter maintenance, visual checking, basic cleaning, etc., as discussed.  However, it certainly doesn’t hurt to call in the experts to help maintain and extend the life of your aircon, and it is actually recommended to be done on a periodic basis.

Home air conditioners are recommended to receive professional maintenance every year at a minimum, and even every 4-6 months in certain situations.  Commercial air conditioners are recommended to receive monthly maintenance as per Australian Standards.   For anything less, it is recommended to arrange a formal inspection and proposal from a good commercial HVAC service company.

Even if the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are seemly working OK, there can be hidden issues that impact unit operation and cause the equipment to wear out faster.  A professional can test technical components and resolve issues before they start to reduce air conditioner lifespan.  A primary example is testing of capacitor tolerance and replacing these minor parts before they damage the associated motor and system as a whole.

Service Level

Extending the life of your air conditioner not only involves maintenance, but also the correct type of servicing.  There are many different AC service types that can be booked, from minor checking through to major pull apart and deep chemical cleaning.  It’s recommended to arrange the highest level required to suitably maintain your aircon, otherwise you may just be wasting your time and money as well as reduce AC lifespan.

Ideally, the aircon service technician you book has the ability to upgrade the service level while onsite.  For example, start with a minor/standard AC service with the potential to add on indoor unit chemical cleaning if mould is found deep within the unit.  Similarly, if insulation on the outdoor pipework is cracked or UV affected, it is recommended to patch it at that time or follow up another time at a suitable add-on price.

While some professional attention is better than none, failure to fully maintain your system will severely shorten its expected lifespan.  If you are going to all the effort of arranging an air conditioning technician, it pays to get the complete service done at that time.  You can easily save the extra money spent with the extra life given to your air conditioning system.

Technician Type

There is a lot of choice when it comes to air conditioning service technicians.  Many air conditioning and electrical companies promote AC servicing, although their specialties and expertise can be worlds apart.

To get the most out of your professional AC service, it is recommended to book a technician with a valid ARCTICK licence.  This Refrigerant Handling Licence ensures that the tech can complete all tasks in a routine service, rather than just the electrical ones.  Handling AC gas/refrigerant is an offence unless you have this specific licence in Australia.

It is also recommended to book a technician with specialized air conditioning training and qualifications.  A heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) contractor is technically a “Refrigeration Mechanic”.  This type of contractor is specialised in the refrigeration cycle, which is what all air conditioners are based on.  To help extend the life of your air conditioning units, it’s important to book the contractor that has been specially trained to care for them.

Recommendations

Once you have booked the correct technician at the recommended frequency to carry out the most suitable level of AC servicing, it’s then important to consider and action as many of their recommendations as possible.  Otherwise, you may not get the full life out of your air conditioner units.

Common recommendations worth actioning include set point for your system, filter cleaning frequency for your environment, chemical cleaning for your degree of mould/matter build up, clearance around the AC units for your unit location, and minor repairs for the state of your aircon.

Reputable air conditioning companies and technicians genuinely want to help you get the most out of your air conditioner.  Their reputation is also on the line if the units pack up and fail sooner than expected.  Therefore, a good tech will recommend ways to preserve the AC equipment.  However, if recommendations are ignored, they can not be held responsible for the shortened lifespan of your air conditioner units.

Repairs

Air conditioner repairs can vary from minor to major.  Some are critical to system operation, while some may not impact the lifespan of an air conditioning system.

Air Conditioner Parts

DIY vs Professional

Just like with air conditioning serving, there are tasks that you can do yourself and some that are best left to the experts.  You may be wondering what to do if air conditioner is broken.  Do you tackle it yourself or call in a professional?

First, the issue needs to be diagnosed correctly.  Just like Dr-google for diagnosing a medical condition, home air conditioner owners can feel like an air conditioning/refrigeration mechanics after 5 minutes of research online.  While you can be on the right track, error codes, noises and loss of function can be the tip of the iceberg in terms of air conditioning repairs required.

Misdiagnosis can waste time and cause further AC damage as you incorrectly think the system is still OK to use.  Furthermore, if you launch into repairs, the issue can actually be made worse.  This can cause great damage to an air con system.  Even worst, you can cause great damage to yourself and those around you.  It is recommended to call an expert to consult on your air conditioning issue/s and allow them to manage the repairs appropriately to maximise AC lifespan.

Timing

Sometimes we can’t help when our air conditioner needs fixing.  However, wherever possible, it is recommended to consider the timing of your air conditioner repairs.  This helps you to extend the life of your air conditioning units in many ways, but only if done correctly.

Firstly, some repairs cannot wait.  For example, gas leaks should be attended to ASAP to minimise the amount of gas lost from the air conditioning system.  However, if an air conditioner motor breaks down at the end of summer and the system isn’t needed until winter, it may pay to hold off repairs until the cooler months.

During the off-peak season, most air conditioning companies offer winter specials and more flexibility with when they can attend.  The AC repair tech is not as busy, so you may receive longer and more focused time onsite.  Aircon parts suppliers will also not be as busy, so they respond quicker with part details in order for quotes to be formed.  Parts can also be dispatched faster as they are not held up with high demand.

Overall, this results in a more pleasant, cost-effect air conditioning repair experience.  As a result, you are more likely to repair your air conditioner again in the future and work with the AC repair company to set up ongoing maintenance.  This helps you get the most out of your air conditioner and extend its life for years to come.

Noise

To extend the life of your AC system, it’s important to be aware of normal operational sounds.  By doing this, you can detect abnormal noises when they arise.  You can then do something about it to preserve your air conditioning system.

Indoor Unit

There are an array of noises possible from your indoor air conditioning unit.

  • Banging/Clanging – Possible loose/broken part such as fan barrel, louver, motor, or blade.
  • Squealing – Possible faulty fan motor bearings or housing. Noise may travel through ductwork.
  • Rattling/Chattering – Possible loose screws/bolts, faulty fan, or failing electrical contactor.
  • Clicking/Humming – Possible defective electrical component (wiring or thermostat) or loose part.
  • Buzzing – Possible range of issues, including dirty filters, debris in unit, rubbing/loose parts, motor/s out of balance, pipes rubbing between units, coil icing up, and/or refrigerant leak.
  • Screaming/Whistling – Possible refrigerant leak or component stuck.

These issues must be resolved by an expert in order to protect your air conditioning units and ensure a suitable lifespan.

Outdoor Unit

There are an array of noises possible from your outdoor air conditioning unit.

  • Banging/Clanging – Possible broken condenser fan blade, motor out of balance, or compressor issue.
  • Squealing – Possible failing condenser motor bearings or could be a normal start up sound.
  • Rattling/Chattering – Possible faulty fan or contactor, loose screws/bolts, or general wear and tear.
  • Clicking/Humming – Possible defective component (electrical or mechanical), loose component, or refrigerant piping vibration.
  • Buzzing – Possible range of issues, including dirty condenser coil, motor/blade out of balance, pipework rubbing, components icing up, and/or refrigerant leak.
  • Screaming/High-pitched Whistling – Possible jammed component or refrigerant leak.

All these issues should be assessed by an AC technician.  If the issue is not normal, it can reduce the expected lifespan of your air conditioner unit.

Refrigerant Gas

A gas leak can severely impact the health of your air conditioning system, the environment, and your family.  If suspected, it is recommended to book an aircon repairer ASAP to resolve the issue.  The air conditioner should not be used until issue resolved, otherwise major damage can occur to components such as the compressor.

You may first suspect a gas leak when the system fails to cool down the indoor space as well as normal.  If you lift the cover, you may also see ice forming on the evaporator coil.  Alternatively, water may be leaking from the indoor unit (i.e. melted ice).  Ice can also start to form on the outdoor coil and/or at the connection between pipework and unit.  This doesn’t mean that the leak is there, it just highlights that the system may be running short of refrigerant.

You may be able to hear hissing from small leaks, and gurgling from larger ones.  However, there may be no noise at all.  Another way you may detect an air conditioner being short of gas is your electricity usage.  If your power bill has increased significantly without another other explanation, it may be worth investigating your aircon.

A full gas leak search and repair is required to identify and fix all leaks.  The leak can be anywhere on the air conditioning system; indoor unit, outdoor unit, pipework, or connection between any of the components.  If the AC is less than 1 year old, it may be covered under installation warranty.  If the AC is less than 5 years old, it may be covered under manufacture warranty.  Either way, failure to resolve the issue will see a premature death to your air conditioning system.

Paperwork

Like all great things, your air conditioner will come with an array of paperwork.  This paperwork is important for many reasons and can be used to extend the life of your air conditioning units.

Overexcited couple because of air conditioning service

Licences

Firstly, before purchasing any new aircon, it is recommended to get a free quote for air conditioning supply and install in writing.  This sets out the inclusions and exclusions of your new air conditioner system as well as key details about the install company.

Next, it is recommended to check out the licences and qualifications of the proposing installation company.  For example, do they offer AC install, but fail to have a Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) air conditioning licence?  Checks like this can help ensure you are getting an air conditioner installed by an expert, which helps extend the life of the aircon.

Correct electrical licencing is also critical to ensure your air conditioner doesn’t wear out sooner than it should.  Not only is incorrect and unlicensed electrical work dangerous and can cause major property damage (including fires), it can also damage your air conditioner units.  Air conditioners come with electrical specifications such as power requirement, cable size, etc.  Failure to adhere to these specs will see a premature failure of the AC equipment.

Having a fully licenced company also ensures warranty for the new air conditioner units is maintained.  If not installed correctly, manufacturers will not honour their manufacturer warranty.  If the issue is major enough, you may be looking at throwing out your new aircon before it even reaches its expected half-life!

Receipts/Registrations

Once you have had your air conditioner installed, it is important to obtain a copy of the purchase and/or install receipt for your records.  This ensures you have important details on hand in situations that can assist with AC life extension.  However, any good air conditioning company should be able to resend a copy of your receipt at any time.

Air conditioner units typically come with a 5-year manufacture warranty, on the condition that the units are installed by a fully licenced air conditioning company/technician.  If any issues occur with the system within that 5-year period that is not caused by external causes, the system can typically be repaired at no cost to you.

However, if installation paperwork cannot be provided, manufacturers may not honour warranty work.  Effectively, warranty is void without valid install paperwork.  As a result, costs may be so significant that you find yourself throwing out the whole air conditioner and starting again with a new system.  This is particularly common with cheaper brands; the units are cheap to buy, but spare parts are terribly expensive.

Aside from installation paperwork, it also pays to register your air conditioner units and associated products whenever offered.  Sometime this supersedes the need for installation paperwork if a warranty repair is required, as the system details has already been registered with the manufacturer.  Furthermore, some AC components have an extended warranty.  For example, iZone zoning equipment comes with a 10-year parts warranty.  This can help you extend the life of your air conditioning system in the most cost-effective way.

User Manual

An air conditioner user manual is the ultimate guide for your air conditioning system.  It is sometimes called Owner Manual, Operations Guide, or Manufacturer Instructions.  Whatever it is called, it is full of useful information to help extend the life of your air conditioner units.

The manual contains operating instructions for the certain aircon model it relates to.  This helps ensure that the system is used correctly to prevent early equipment failure.  It also contains specific instructions for aircon maintenance and other ways to care for your units.  This further assists with system preservation and life extension.

When the air conditioner is installed, ask for a copy of the user manual.  If not received, just ask the installer to provide it or jump online to download a copy.  The next step is to actually read the content.  It’s probably no surprise that women tend to be far better at reading manuals than men.

Insurances

Once your air conditioner has be supplied and installed by a fully licenced installer, paperwork is received, any registrations completed, and user manual has been referred to, the next step is to review/update your home or business insurance policy.  While seemingly unrelated, this can actually end up being one of the most cost-effective ways of extending the life of your air conditioner units.

An air conditioner is a significant asset in any home or commercial building, so it should be covered by any appropriate insurance policy.  It’s worth checking what is covered and also what is exclude in relation to your air conditioning.  Common causes of damage relevant to your air conditioner includes motor burn out, fusion damage, storm events (including hail, water, or storm surge), electrical failure, fire, flood, animal, and accidental damage.

It’s worth weighting up the cost of some optional extras for your given situation.  For example, do you live in an area where flood could damage your AC?  Do you live in warmer climate where geckos (animals) wreak havoc with electrical equipment?  Is the outdoor AC unit in a carport or similar where it is at risk of accidental damage?

If the cost of repairs to your air conditioner is significant, you may think twice about proceeding with them.  For example, a compressor change in a ducted system can be half the cost of a new one.  You may consider investing the money into a whole new system instead.  However, if the repairs are related to an insured event, like a storm surge (lightening), then you are more likely to proceed with the life-extending repairs when all you have to pay is the excess.

In summary, there are many different ways to extend the life of your air conditioner units.  From the design and installation, to usage and assisting, to maintenance and supportive paperwork, there are many things you can do to support your air conditioning system.

The points outlined in this article are all cost-effective ways to support optimal AC operation and preserve your aircon system for many more years.  If you need help reviewing your air conditioning situation and extending the life of AC equipment, please don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss.