Heating, ventilation and air conditioning are year-round utilities necessary to keeping your home comfortable and clean while also maintaining your health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, HVAC systems are not designed to last forever, and based on various factors, your HVAC system may have even fewer years to go. How long do HVAC units last? Learn more below.

How Long HVAC Units Last

The exact length of time that HVAC systems last varies from home to home. Even in the best case scenario, the average HVAC life expectancy is about 15 to 20 years. A furnace will last about that amount of time, while heat pumps will last about 16 years on average. Air conditioning units last slightly less at about 10 to 15 years. Electric and gas heaters only last about 10 years, but tankless water heaters can actually be expected to last over 20 years.

Of the HVAC components, the thermostat is estimated to have a lifespan of up to 35 years. However, thermostats are usually replaced prior to that due to the growing advances and improvements in thermostat technology.

What Affects HVAC System Lifespan?

Despite that average HVAC life expectancy of 15 to 20 years, there are numerous factors that can take some years off of that lifespan. Take a look at some of the most common factors that affect HVAC lifespan below.


Every HVAC system requires regular maintenance, and not just when things break. Regular maintenance ensures that everything is in working order and can help to identify potential problems before they become more costly. Any old, worn, or damaged parts are easy to  repair or replace during maintenance. Keeping your HVAC system well-maintained also keeps your monthly utility bill down and ensures that you are at your most energy efficient.

Your specific hvac maintenance cost and needs can vary, but general rule of thumb suggests that you get your system looked at by an HVAC contractor prior to the beginning of heavy usage seasons. That means requesting hvac service once during the spring, before the weather heats up, and one at fall, before the temperatures dip.

Air Filters

The air filter in your HVAC system filters out the dust and debris, ensuring the best air quality inside your home. However, air filters do need to get replaced, usually once every three months (the beginning of every season). Replacing your air filter regularly keeps dust from getting stuck in your vents and HVAC unit allowing proper upkeep of your indoor air quality. A clogged air filter also forces your HVAC system to work even harder to control your home’s climate. That extra amount of effort increases your energy expenditure and puts more wear and tear on your HVAC system.


Both indoor and outdoor environments have an immense impact on your HVAC unit. Homes on the coast tend to deal with more corrosion due to the increased salt in the air. Colder climates likely mean more wear and tear on your heater, while hotter climates put more strain on your air conditioner. This can mean that heat pump systems last longer than your A/C unit. You may not be able to directly control the environment you live in, but being thoughtful about your comfort system (programming your thermostat, turning off your heater or air conditioning when you’re not home, checking your home for air leaks) can potentially help your HVAC go that extra mile.

Technological Upgrades

Technology advances at such a quick pace that your HVAC system will likely need an upgrade before you hit that 15-year mark. This may not entail a full system replacement, but new designs on coils and improved thermostat programs are put out constantly. If your system is around 10 years old, consider requesting an HVAC consult with your HVAC contractor to determine if there are any technological upgrades available for your HVAC system. These upgrades could help you save money on utility bills and energy in the long term. 

HVAC systems are not by any means immortal, but with some foresight and regular maintenance you may be able to keep your HVAC system going for years to come. At the same time, don’t be afraid to replace your HVAC with more advanced parts and technology. Investing in hvac upgrades can help you save more in the long run and support greater energy efficiency.