Tips for Maintaining and Buying a Central Air Conditioner

Central air conditioner units typically last from 12 to 15 years. If you’re in the market for a new central air conditioner or heat pump, be sure to select a model with a high SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating. The higher the SEER number (ranging from 13 to 23), the more energy efficient the air conditioner.

To help maintain your central air conditioner or heat pump:

    • Have the unit serviced once a year by a certified HVAC pro.
    • Use quality air filters and change them every 1-3 months.
    • Keep shrubs and bushes trimmed back away from the AC unit.
  • Turn off the AC periodically, then use a garden hose with sprayer to remove any dirt and debris on the unit.

Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information


Danny Lipford: The heating and cooling system in this home is called a split forced air system. Which means one part of the unit is inside, where you have your air handler. Then you have the second part of it, which is your air conditioner condenser. Now, if you have this type of system, which a lot of people do, it’s the most common type of heating and cooling system out there. You’re looking at a life expectancy between 12 and 15 years.

So, if you’re faced with replacing your unit, here’s some very important stuff you need to know. First of all, you want to get the highest SEER rating that you can afford, that’s Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, ranges from 13 to 23. The higher the number, the more efficient the system will be. Also, the higher the number the more expensive it’ll be, so whatever the budget will allow. But the higher the number, the more money you’ll save on your energy bill. But in order to make your system last as long as possible, make sure you have it serviced at least once a year by a professional heating and cooling contractor.

And another thing you can do that won’t cost you anything, is keep everything clear around the outside unit. Don’t let it grow up like these homeowners have done. Make sure you trim all of that back. Get any vines that are growing up around it. Trim those back, and occasionally, turn the system off, use your water hose to blast away any of the debris that may settle against the unit. That’ll keep it from rusting and make it last a long time. And you can put that big expense off as long as possible.


  1. One little thing that I see often servicing AC units is where people have cleaned them with a water hose and have actually bent the fins over doing so, which restricts airflow and can lead to early condenser failure. When cleaning the outdoor unit it is critical that you not use a “Jet” setting on the sprayer and do not spray the fins at an angle, as they are very thin and bend easily. If fins get bent, you can usually take a wire brush and carefully run it along the fins to straighten them back out.

  2. We bought an old house and we’ll definitely need a new air conditioning unit. I appreciate your advice to find one that has a good SEER rating since it will be a more efficient unit. This is something I hadn’t considered before, but an efficient unit will save us money!


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