How Long Do HVAC Systems Last and Why You Should Get It Inspected

HVAC systems are an essential aspect of maintaining a comfortable indoor environment. These systems help provide heating, cooling, and ventilation to your home or office, thereby ensuring that you enjoy a comfortable and healthy indoor environment throughout the year. 

However, like any other mechanical system, HVAC systems do not last forever and typically have a limited lifespan. This is why it is crucial that you get them inspected regularly to ensure that they are working at maximum efficiency. 

Buying an HVAC system is a huge investment, so proper servicing and maintenance by a professional organization like River Valley is key. How long HVAC systems last depend on many variables, including the type of system, the condition of the system, its maintenance, etc. 

To get the maximum output of your HVAC system and see that it works properly for many years, regular maintenance and repairs are indispensable.

What to avoid in order to maintain a longer lifespan of your HVAC system?

Regularly maintaining and repairing your HVAC system when necessary is key to keeping them running long-term. But apart from repairs and maintenance, there are some additional measures you can take to increase the overall efficiency and lifespan of your HVAC system. By avoiding these specific points, you can keep your systems running optimally while also ensuring your energy bills stay low.

Neglecting regular maintenance

Regular maintenance of your HVAC system is crucial to ensure that it is functioning efficiently. Without regular maintenance, you won’t be able to detect any potential problems. These smaller problems can later give rise to major issues, including system breakdown, malfunctioning, decreased efficiency, higher energy bills, etc. Neglecting regular maintenance can cause the HVAC system to break down more frequently, ultimately leading to a shorter lifespan.

Ignoring air filter replacements 

Air filters help to keep your HVAC system clean by trapping dirt, dust, and other debris. Over time, these filters tend to become clogged. Clogged air filters reduce the overall HVAC system’s efficiency, making it work harder than necessary. It is, therefore, extremely important that the air filters are replaced regularly. 

Regular replacement of filters ensures that your HVAC system is running at optimal performance and peak efficiency. Skilled HVAC technicians must be consulted during the replacement of air filters. 

The type of filter, the size of your home, the number of occupants, and whether you have pets, will all affect how often your air filters need to be replaced. However, as a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to replace your air filters every 1 to 3 months. 

If you love to have pets or have family members that suffer from allergies or other diseases like respiratory diseases, you’ll need to replace the air filters more frequently, such as every 1 to 2 months. However, it is absolutely fine to replace the air filters less frequently, such as every 3 to 6 months, if you live alone with no pets. 

Also consider that you might want to replace your air filters a little more frequently if your HVAC system runs throughout the day or you happen to reside in an area with high air pollution or dust.

Overworking the system

Switching on the HVAC system sets your indoor temperature to the optimal level, providing comfortable indoor living conditions. However, if you happen to run your HVAC system constantly, especially during extreme temperatures, be prepared to wear it out more quickly. 

Therefore, it is crucial that you understand your requirements and use your HVAC system wisely. Setting your HVAC to appropriate temperatures for the season can help cut energy bills while making sure that it lasts longer.

Closing or blocking vents

Sometimes we might think that closing or blocking vents in unused rooms will help us save some energy. However, on the contrary, doing that might actually put extra strain on your HVAC system. Closing vents causes air pressure imbalances, reducing efficiency and increasing wear and tear on the system. 

An increase in the system’s wear and tear is a major contributing factor to the HVAC system’s shorter lifespan. Thus, it is best to avoid things like closing or blocking vents.

Ignoring unusual sounds or smells

The HVAC system you switch on usually shows signs if there is anything wrong with the system. If you hear strange noises or detect unusual smells from your HVAC system, you should address the issue immediately. 

The worst thing you can do is ignore these warning signs, as that can cause more serious problems in the future, which usually result in costly repairs and a shorter lifespan for your system.

By avoiding these common mistakes and properly maintaining your HVAC system, you can help to ensure that it operates efficiently and lasts as long as possible.

What are the lifespans of some common HVAC systems?

For HVAC systems, their lifespan mainly depends on their type. However, here are the typical lifespans of a few common HVAC equipment types: 

Heat pumps

Depending on the frequency of usage, most heat pumps can easily last 10 to 20 years, even though 15 years is usually the average. Heat pumps are typically used for longer each year, even though they are conceptually similar to air conditioners. 

This is because they can provide both heating as well as cooling features. Note that heat pumps in coastal areas have a significantly shorter lifespan of 7 to 12 years due to the saline environment. 

Air Conditioners

Most air conditioners will easily last between 15 to 20 years. Even at the lower end, they should last at least ten years. You must replace the appliance when the condenser develops significant leaks or corrosion, or the compressor fails. This is similar to heat pumps as well. Also, air conditioners in coastal areas have a much shorter lifespan of 7 to 12 years due to exposure to saline air. 

Ductless mini-splits

Ductless mini-splits are similar to heat pumps, providing both cooling and heating. They have a typical lifespan of anything between 10 to 30 years. And much like heat pumps and air conditioners, their lifespan is significantly shorter in coastal regions. 


Gas furnaces can easily last for decades provided they’ve been appropriately maintained. In most cases, a leaking heat exchanger is a cause for it to be replaced as it is the most critical and expensive component of the appliance. 

Note that oil furnaces typically last only about 10 to 15 years due to the nature of oil as a fuel. This is the same case with poorly maintained gas furnaces or those that have questionable quality. As such, it’s always best to do what you can to keep your furnace working optimally, like ensuring your furnace filter is changed regularly.


Boilers typically last much longer than furnaces at an average lifespan of 20 to 35 years. They are only replaced when there is a leak in the heat exchanger. 

These are the most common lifespan for HVAC appliances. However, since the reliability, performance, and efficiency of these pieces of equipment keep dropping with the years accumulated, their utility and repair costs keep piling on. As a reason, most homeowners choose to replace them well before their lifespan. 

In fact, once an HVAC system has reached 10 to 15 years of tenure, the initial investment toward a newer and more efficient system can be justified by the savings on energy and regularly required repair and maintenance. 


A poorly maintained system is a breeding ground for allergens, dust, and other pollutants that circulate through your home and affect your indoor air quality and health. Regular inspection is pretty important when it comes to an HVAC system, as it eliminates the risk of major repairs and serious problems in the future. 

Make sure you contact River Valley to maintain your HVAC system to enjoy a healthy indoor environment all year round!