August 20, 2023
What Is the Usual Life Expectancy of a Commercial HVAC Unit?
The life expectancy of a commercial HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) unit is a big concern for many facility managers and business owners. After all, such systems are significant investments that, ideally, should serve your establishment for a substantial period. Learning more about commercial HVAC units can help you determine the average lifespan of these systems while also giving you ideas on how to keep your unit working at an optimal level.
How Long Do Commercial HVAC Systems Last?
On average, a well-maintained commercial HVAC unit should last between 15 to 20 years. However, this is just an average range, and this number can change due to a variety of reasons. Certain factors, including the type of system, its usage, location, maintenance frequency, and the quality of the installation, can either decrease or increase this lifespan.
Here is a more in-depth review of the different factors that influence the lifespan of a commercial HVAC system.
1. Type of System
Different types of HVAC systems have different life expectancies because of their unique structures and functions. For example, rooftop units, commonly used in commercial applications, are exposed to more environmental elements, and have a lifespan of 15-20 years. On the other hand, commercial boilers, which are generally located inside the building, are less exposed to harsh weather conditions, which allows them to last up to 30 years. The design of the system also plays a role. Systems built with higher-quality materials and parts tend to have longer lifespans.
The frequency and intensity of use can have a big impact on the lifespan of your commercial HVAC system. If your HVAC system is constantly running because of high cooling or heating demands, it will undergo more wear and tear, reducing its lifespan. For example, a restaurant’s HVAC system, which is heavily used to keep the environment comfortable amid heat from the kitchen, may wear out faster than an office building’s system, which is used less intensively. The key is to optimize usage to avoid unnecessary strain on the system.
Your geographic location can significantly affect your HVAC system’s longevity. Buildings located in coastal areas might face a shorter lifespan due to increased corrosion from the salt in the air. On the other hand, systems in colder climates may experience wear and tear faster because of the constant need for heating. Additionally, systems in areas with high pollution may need more frequent maintenance and could potentially have a shorter lifespan. Understanding your location’s specific challenges can help in planning appropriate preventive maintenance.
4. Maintenance Frequency
Regular and quality maintenance can extend the lifespan of your commercial HVAC system significantly. Maintenance is not just about fixing issues but also preventing potential problems. Systems that aren’t maintained regularly may operate inefficiently, strain components, and result in premature failures. However, routine maintenance allows for timely replacements of components that might fail and affect the entire system. It’s a small price to pay to avoid the high cost of system replacement.
5. Quality of Installation
The quality of installation can set the tone for your HVAC system’s life expectancy. A properly installed system ensures that all components are correctly fitted, and the system runs as efficiently as possible. On the other hand, a poorly installed system might have issues right from the start, leading to frequent repairs, increased strain on components, and a significantly reduced lifespan. Working with certified and experienced HVAC professionals for installation ensures your system has a solid foundation for a long life.
While you may not have control over some factors, such as your location or the system type, regular maintenance is one area where you can greatly influence your HVAC system’s lifespan. Here are some key maintenance tips to extend the life of your commercial HVAC unit.
1. Regular Inspections
Regular professional inspections should be your primary strategy for prolonging your HVAC system’s life. Such inspections help identify minor issues before they escalate into major problems, saving you costly repair or replacement expenses. It is recommended to have your HVAC system professionally inspected at least twice a year, ideally before peak summer and winter seasons. This timing allows for any necessary repairs to be done before the system is most needed.
2. Keep the System Clean
A clean and well-maintained HVAC system can operate more efficiently and last longer. Dust, dirt, and debris can clog filters, obstruct airways, and cause the system to work much harder to maintain the desired temperature. This extra strain can lead to increased wear and tear, and it eventually results in a shorter lifespan. Regularly cleaning components, including indoor and outdoor units and filters, can keep your system running smoothly.
3. Monitor System Performance
Observing your HVAC system’s performance can give you early warning signs of issues. Keep an eye on your energy bills, as a sudden or gradual increase could signal that your HVAC system is not working efficiently and needs attention. Similarly, unusual noises or strange smells could be early indicators of potential problems. Monitoring system performance doesn’t replace professional maintenance but aids in identifying when professional help might be needed.
4. Invest in a Maintenance Contract
Consider investing in a maintenance contract with a reputable HVAC service provider. Regularly scheduled services ensure your system stays in peak condition and can help identify potential problems before they become severe. This proactive approach can lead to significant savings over time, as minor fixes are generally more cost-effective than major repairs or replacements. Additionally, some contracts also offer priority service and discounts on repairs, which adds further value.
5. Retrofitting and Upgrades
There are instances when retrofitting or upgrading parts of your HVAC system can help prolong its life. For example, if the compressor of a rooftop unit fails while the rest of the system is in good condition, replacing just the compressor could extend the system’s life by several years. Additionally, as technology evolves, new components can increase the system’s energy efficiency and performance. Regularly reviewing your system with a qualified HVAC professional can help determine when a retrofit or upgrade might be beneficial.
Understanding the average life expectancy of a commercial HVAC unit and the factors that influence it can help you plan for making a replacement and budget accordingly. However, remember that regular maintenance is crucial. Not only can it extend the life of your HVAC system, but it can also enhance its efficiency, saving you money in the long run. Focusing on the care of your HVAC system allows you to invest in the comfort and satisfaction of your employees and customers, which is good for business.
Scott-Lee Heating Company offers heating and cooling solutions for customers throughout St. Louis and the local area. We also specialize in many other services, whether you need indoor air cleaners, dehumidifiers, metalwork, and much more. We also strive to provide the best customer support, and we can answer all your questions.
Reach out to Scott-Lee Heating Company today to learn more about using our services.