How Long Does a Window Unit Air Conditioner Last?

by Hannah Stephens
window ac unit

Window AC units are affordable compared to whole-house systems, but you'll still want to maximize your investment.

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An old or badly maintained unit could leave you hot and bothered during sweltering weather, and knowing your AC's expected lifespan can help you plan financially for a replacement.

How Long Does a Window AC Unit Typically Last?

According to Consumer Reports, most window units last around 8 to 10 years. How long an air conditioner lasts depends on a few factors, including its quality, model type and how well you maintain it. A high-quality, well-maintained unit could last significantly longer, while cheaper models often have shorter lifespans — especially if you don't keep on top of essential maintenance, such as changing or cleaning the air filters.

How Can You Make Your Window Unit Last Longer?

Fortunately, following a few basic tips can help you maximize your window AC's lifespan.

1. Choose the Right Size

Using the correct unit size for your living space allows your air conditioner to work as efficiently as possible. It can be tempting to purchase a smaller model than your space requires because less-powerful window units are usually more affordable. However, your AC will have to work harder to keep the area cool, placing significant strain on its components.

Conversely, installing a window unit that's too large for your room can create similar problems. Overly large units consume more energy, increasing your energy bills. Furthermore, they're more prone to breaking down and may make your space feel uncomfortably cold.

Generally, you need 20 BTUs of cooling capacity per square foot. Therefore, a 5,000 BTU window unit is ideal for most small rooms measuring 150 square feet or less, while larger rooms may require an 8,000 BTU model. Features such as high ceilings can affect your cooling needs, and an HVAC professional can advise you on the best air con size for your living space.

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2. Pick a Shady Spot

Placing your window AC unit in direct sunlight can cause it to overheat, making it work harder to cool your space. Instead, pick a spot that's shady for most of the day to reduce wear and tear.

3. Keep on Top of Maintenance Tasks

Basic AC maintenance only takes a few minutes and can dramatically prolong your unit's lifespan. Clean or replace the filter at least every two months during the summer or more often if you use your AC continuously. Inspect the fan and straighten any bent fan blades if you hear strange clanking or banging sounds. Using your air conditioner with broken or loose parts can lead to breakdowns.

4. Turn the AC Off When Not in Use

The more frequently you use your AC, the more likely it is to wear out. Turning your air conditioner off when you leave the house can help it last as long as possible.