Window air conditioners last 8 to 15 years based on two main factors – initial quality and how much the unit is used.
Doing regular maintenance on your window air conditioner like cleaning the filter monthly and cleaning the coil fins on the back of the unit as needed will also promote better longevity.
Other topics on this page cover window AC warranties, repair vs replacement options and additional maintenance tips.
One of the major causes of window AC failure is a refrigerant leak. Refrigerant, commonly called Freon after a once-popular brand name, is essential to moving heat from inside your home to the outside, cooling the air in your house in the process.
Refrigerant or Freon in a window air conditioner should last at least 8 years. The unit isn’t supposed to use it up, like a car uses gas. It’s more like motor oil – if there’s a leak, there’s a problem.
The primary sign that your AC Freon is gone is that the unit runs a lot but cools the air insufficiently or not at all.
In some cases, a Freon leak may cause the compressor to fail too, and then your AC probably ruined – beyond repair.
Repair vs Replace your Window AC
Most homeowners replace a broken window air conditioner for these reasons:
Repairs are usually quite expensive – usually half or more the price of a new AC.
It’s hard to find an appliance repair shop that repairs them.
If the unit is old, it makes sense to upgrade to a new window air conditioner that is more efficient, so your energy costs are lower.
Newer units also have convenient features like 24-hour timers, remote controls, Dry mode (dries the air without cooling it on chilly, damp days) and even WiFi on some models.
In short, in most cases it is not worth fixing a window air conditioner. Most are now considered disposable since the cost of new units is quite reasonable.
Window AC Warranties
These air conditioners are backed by warranties of 6 months, 12 months or 24 months.
|Basic / Cheap||6 months||Winado|
|Better / Average||1 year||LG, GE, Frigidaire, Whirlpool, Arctic King, Midea, Most others|
|Best / Premium||2 years||Danby, Koldfront, Emerson|
This information is based on an analysis of 200 units from all major brands.
*Koldfront offers a 90-day labor warranty on some models. Most homeowners do not realize that only parts are covered under warranty. The labor costs to replace the part is the customer’s responsibility.
Window AC Efficiency
Window air conditioners can lose efficiency over time for a few reasons.
The most common reason and simple to fix is a dirty air filter. When the filter gets covered in dust, dander and other debris, the AC has to work longer to remove heat from the air in your home. This reduces efficiency.
*Tip: Clean your window AC filter at least once per month during heavy use. If you have pets or your home is very dusty, then you might have to clean it weekly during the hot season. This will help keep it running at maximum efficiency.
Dirty coils will reduce window AC efficiency.
*Tip: When the air filter is out, clean the coil inside the unit with a soft brush and vacuum. Also clean the outside coil – the one with sharp radiator fins on the back of the AC.
A Freon leak will cause a window AC to lose efficiency to the point it doesn’t cool your home at all, reducing efficiency to zero. Here is a guide on how to recharge window ac.
Placing the unit in a sunny window might also reduce efficiency by making the AC work too hard. A shaded window is best.
When to Replace your Window Air Conditioner
There are clear reasons to replace your window AC.
1). It is broken, and the repair bill is more than half the cost of a new unit.
2). It is broken, and you can’t find a local window air conditioner repair contractor – they aren’t common. In fact, no HVAC contractors we are aware of service window air conditioners.
3). It is old – and your electric bills seem quite high. Choose a new, efficient window air conditioner. Most brands make Energy Star certified models. To be certified, the unit must use at least 10% less energy than the average of all units of the same size.
4). Whether the AC is broken or not, you’d like to upgrade to one with features you prefer.
5). You’d like to reduce your environmental impact by purchasing a unit with newer R32 refrigerant. It does not deplete ozone and has a much lower global warming potential than R410A refrigerant.
If you’re shopping for a new model, the Energy Star program provides buying guidance that is worth considering.
It will help you choose an AC unit of the right size, one that is energy efficient and has the features you like.
Yearly Maintenance of Your Window AC
While window units don’t last as long as central air conditioners, you can get maximum longevity with these annual maintenance tips.
We’ve already covered most of them, so this is a summary.
1). Clean the filter and coils annually and throughout the cooling season.
*Tip: If the coils are very dirty, find a coil cleaning solution to spray onto them and then rinse off. Do this step outside!
2). Check to ensure that it is cooling properly before the weather gets hot. You don’t want to find out it is broken on the first really hot day of the spring or summer.
3). Make sure the wiring and plug are in good condition and not loose or frayed. Replace a bad wire rather than risking electrical shock or fire.
Signs that your AC needs service include:
*High electric bills
*An odd smell when it is on
*Water leaking inside your home, even when the AC is properly tilted to the outside.
You don’t need an appliance pro to do the annual check. Why? They charge $50 to $100 or more for the service, and they will often look for things that need to be repaired, even if the unit is working. Within a few years, you’ll have paid for the price of a new window AC.