How Long Should Your Heating or Cooling Unit Last?

When it comes to home improvement projects, installing a new heating or cooling system isn’t as exciting as others. However, it’s an important decision for a few different reasons. First, and most obvious, is the comfort of your home. But it’s also a rather long-term commitment you’re making. That also means you can think of the cost spread out over many years.

How Long Should Your Heating or Cooling Unit Last

So that leads us to the next question – how long will a new HVAC system last? The answer depends on many factors, starting with the type of unit you’re having installed.

Natural gas furnace

The average service life of a gas furnace today is about 15-20 years. Of course, this is an estimate and not a guarantee. How long your unit will last depends on many factors (which we’ll cover a bit later) and the usage. If your current furnace is 12 years or older and beginning to show warning signs of breaking down, you will want to consider if it’s more cost-effective in the long run to repair it or replace the system with a new, high-efficiency model.

Central air conditioning

A traditional AC system that pushes cool air to the entire home through a network of ducts will usually last 15-25 years. The more you run the unit in the summer, the more wear-and-tear it will accumulate. The outdoor condenser can also be affected by weather and other environmental factors.


If you have a natural gas boiler in your home, you can expect the main unit to work for about 10-15 years before it will likely need to be replaced. Electric boilers have a slightly shorter expected service life – between 8-10 years.

Heat pump

Heat pumps, which offer both heating and cooling capabilities in one unit, have an average service life of 10-15 years. The shortened lifespan is partially due to the fact it gets used throughout the year.

Other factors that can affect the service life:

  • Brand and model – Equipment from high-quality and reputable manufacturers will usually last longer than cheaper models
  • Quality of installation – If the system isn’t installed by a qualified HVAC professional, the unit may accumulate more stress and break down sooner
  • Proper design and ventilation – Similar to installation, the unit needs to be sized correctly to your home, located appropriately, and vented effectively to maximize service life
  • Consistent maintenance – Performing regular maintenance is usually the best way to keep your HVAC system running properly and for as long as possible. Maintenance can include simple tasks like replacing the air filter, all the way up to internal cleaning and inspections that should be done by a professional.

HVAC repair and installation

Still unsure whether your current system can make it through another season, or if it’s a better idea to replace it with a new unit? Get an expert opinion by talking to a technician from Robert B. Payne, Inc. We can inspect your heating or cooling system and recommend solutions for your home. To schedule an appointment, call us today at 540-373-5876.