How Long Do Air Conditioner Compressors Last?

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Updated September 9, 2022

If you’re looking for the best air conditioner, you’re probably expecting excellent quality. However, even the mightiest machines can fail. The best thing you can do is prepare by learning more about your AC. So, how long should an air conditioner compressor last?


  • Your AC compressor should last the entire lifespan of your AC without an issue, depending on a few different factors.
  • A faulty compressor can lead to multiple air conditioner issues, such as vibrating, a flow of refrigerant, and even warm air coming out of your AC.
  • It usually is far less of an investment to purchase an AC replacement rather than pay the replacement cost of a bad AC compressor.

The Life Expectancy of an AC Compressor

The AC compressor generally lasts as long as the AC unit does. On average, you shouldn’t have to deal with a dead compressor for 8-10 years. However, this is dependent on a few factors.

Signs and Causes of Compressor Failure

There are a few signs that indicate a faulty AC compressor:

  • Leaking air conditioning refrigerant
  • Warm air coming out of the AC
  • There are problems with the circuit breaker

Knowing how to fix an air conditioner can save you a lot of money when it comes to repairing air conditioning systems. But you should be aware of a couple of things that can severely impact the average lifespan of your AC compressor.

Insider Tip

Routine service for your air conditioner will keep it in tip-top condition for far longer.

Not Performing Regular Maintenance

You should be performing routine maintenance on air conditioning systems as directed by the manufacturer. If you’re not, this will shorten your compressor’s lifespan. Preventative maintenance will help ensure that you don’t have to deal with problems like electrical issues, high energy consumption, leaking refrigerant lines, and more.

As such, knowing how often to service your air conditioner is non-negotiable.

Overworking Your Air Conditioning Unit

A key component of keeping your air conditioning compressor in working order is ensuring that you aren’t overworking your AC. Your air conditioning compressor can fail earlier than usual if you try to cool a space with a unit that’s too small for the job.

Always install a correctly sized air conditioning unit into your living spaces to avoid this.


Keep an eye out for telltale signs of damage, such as leaking liquid refrigerant.

Should You Repair Your Compressor Unit?

We have a great article covering how to fix an air conditioner compressor. However, it’s usually better to just replace the air conditioning unit altogether. Typically, compressor repair just isn’t worth it when you look at the cost versus just purchasing a new unit.

Of course, you can do several things to extend the average life expectancy of your AC and avoid compressor failure. For example, learning about basics is a great place to start, such as how long does an air conditioner need to de-ice.

STAT: Over the past decade, the mean annual household expenditure on window air conditioners by homeowners in the United States has remained relatively low, between 3 and 5 U.S. dollars. (source)

How Long Should an Air Conditioner Compressor Last FAQs

How often should I clean my condenser coils?

You should clean your condenser coils at least once every couple of weeks. This just means wiping the debris off of them and keeping them dusted.

There are a few things that you’ll notice if your AC is dying:

  • Strange noises are happening, like ticking or rattling
  • The unit vibrates when it starts up
  • It keeps tripping the circuit breaker

What is the purpose of the outdoor unit in a split system?

The biggest thing an outdoor unit does is gives heat a place to dissipate. It contains the split system's condensing coil, fan, and compressor.

How can I keep my electric bills low when using an AC?

You can use several methods to offset cooling costs and lower your energy bills. Try a few of these methods for keeping energy bills low:

  • Keep the shades pulled
  • Avoid cooking on the stove
  • Use a Smart thermostat
  • Perform monthly maintenance
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