What Is the Life Expectancy of a Commercial HVAC Unit?

Commercial rooftop HVAC unit

As a business owner or manager in Aurora, Oswego, Plainfield, Naperville or Lisle (IL), you have operational expenses that you budget and monitor, including variable overhead costs. Some might be consistent, some might appear unexpectedly and some might be an infrequent line item.

Your commercial HVAC system could be one of the less frequent costs. Typically, while you might need to invest in system repairs and maintenance, many years can often pass before you need to concern yourself with replacing the unit.

When that time does arrive, however, HVAC system replacement is a notable expense. Understanding the life expectancy of a commercial HVAC unit can help you be prepared for that larger cost.

Commercial HVAC Unit: Life Expectancy Years

Different commercial facilities may use different kinds of HVAC systems. The life expectancy of yours will often depend on what type of unit it is.

Typically, you might anticipate the following life spans according to HVAC type:

Type Years
Air-cooled and evaporative condenser 20
Air-to-air heat pump 15
Cast-iron boiler 35 (hot), 30 (steam)
Cooling tower 20 (wood, galvanized metal), 35 (ceramic)
Electric boiler 15 (hot water and steam)
Gas and oil furnace 18
Packaged chiller 20 (reciprocating), 23 (centrifugal and absorption)
Radiant heater 10 (electric), 25 (hot water and steam)
Single and multi-zone rooftop AC 15
Steel fire-tube boiler 25 (hot water and steam)
Steel water-tube boiler 24 (hot water), 30 (steam)
Through-the-wall AC 15
Water-to-air heat pump 20

These estimates can help to give an idea of how long a certain system might run before it needs replacement. A commercial HVAC unit’s lifespan also will depend on a few different factors that can shorten or lengthen its years of performance.

Commercial HVAC Unit: Life Expectancy Factors

A commercial HVAC unit is usually more complex and high-performing than a system for residential use. One leading factor that can determine a unit’s life span is its size. Is the unit the right size for your building? A system that is either undersized or oversized will often work harder and endure more wear and tear.

Some other determinants of an HVAC unit’s life expectancy can include:

  • Quality of system installation
  • Efficiency of system design
  • Climate zone of operation
  • Quality of main components
  • Amount of annual usage
  • Regularity of maintenance

Let’s look at a few of these factors a little more closely.

  • Quality of system installation. Whether the system is installed correctly will impact the unit’s life span from the start. Correct installation means a properly sized unit is installed according to the manufacturer’s specifications and your building’s HVAC system design. Incorrect installation can cause years of stress on system components, leading to damage and a premature system failure.
  • Amount of annual usage. Consider how much you use your HVAC system during the course of a year. Aurora, Oswego, Plainfield, Naperville and Lisle have hot summers and cold winters, so there’s a good chance it is chugging often in those seasons. On the other hand, if your HVAC runs on an automated system that minimizes energy waste, the equipment likely doesn’t undergo as much wear as that which is going 24/7. The longer and harder the system runs, the faster it will age.
  • Regularity of maintenance. This factor may perhaps have the greatest influence over your HVAC unit’s life expectancy. Each component in a commercial unit affects other components. If you are proactive and conscientious about scheduling regular preventive maintenance including professional inspections and tune-ups, your HVAC system stands a much greater chance of meeting or even exceeding its anticipated life span. A well-maintained system will also perform at its peak potential more regularly.

Proper maintenance includes checking and replacing air duct filters periodically as well. Forgetting or overlooking even this simple step can contribute to a shorter life of a commercial HVAC unit.

Here for Answers and Service

Maintenance, repair and replacement of a commercial HVAC unit require particular skill and experience. Beery Heating and Cooling specializes in commercial HVAC service for Naperville, Aurora, Plainfield Oswego and Lisle businesses. If you have any questions about your system, including about its life expectancy, we’d be glad to hear from you and answer them. Just give us a call at (630) 585-6444!

We are available for commercial HVAC service throughout the area, including Montgomery, Sugar Grove, North Aurora, Batavia, Yorkville and Plano.