How Long Do Heat Pumps Last

“How long do heat pumps last?” is an excellent question if you already own a heat pump or are considering installing one. Heat pumps, like furnaces and air conditioners, have average life expectancies. Average life expectancy is only an estimate, but it helps identify when a replacement might be necessary.

Heat pumps are a significant investment, and you want to be sure you get the most extended life possible out of yours. Several factors can extend or reduce a heat pump’s lifespan, many of which are within your control. If your system is already near the end of its life, be sure you recognize the signs that it’s time to replace it.

How long does a heat pump last?

Every type of heat pump has an average lifespan. Air-source heat pumps last about fifteen years, less time than air conditioners and furnaces, because heat pumps are used year-round. Several factors affect heat pump lifespans and can cause them to fail sooner or last longer than expected.

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Factors That Affect How Long a Heat Pump Lasts

Modern heat pumps last longer than those manufactured ten or more years ago, but even new heat pumps don’t have a guaranteed lifespan. How long HVAC systems last is dependent on several variables. Certain factors reduce heat pump life expectancy, while others can extend it.

Homeowners are partially responsible for how long their heat pumps last. Making sound decisions about size, usage, installation, and maintenance can ensure you get the most time out of your heat pump. Other factors such as location, that can extend or reduce its lifespan, are beyond your control, but awareness of these factors can help you make informed decisions.

1. Size

Heat pumps should be properly sized according to homes’ square footage, layout, insulation, region, and other factors. Undersized heat pumps run extra-long cycles that overwork their components. Oversized heat pumps sustain more wear and tear by turning on and off frequently.

2. Usage

The more something is used, the sooner it wears out. The same is true for heat pumps. Heat pumps run longer cycles if they are undersized or if homes are poorly insulated. Heat pumps in cold climates also work harder to deliver heat. An auxiliary heat or dual-fuel system can remove the heat pump's burden.

3. Location

Heat pump lifespan is reduced in coastal and cold climates. In coastal regions, the salty air degrades heat pump components and reduces their lifespan to eight to ten years. Heat pumps work harder and wear out faster in areas where winter temperatures are below freezing. Heat pumps last the longest in moderate, inland climates.

4. Proper installation and maintenance

Qualified, experienced technicians should professionally install heat pumps. Improper installation causes problems and shortens lifespan.

As with most things, heat pumps last longer when they’re taken care of. A well-maintained heat pump could last twenty years or more. Maintaining a heat pump also reduces energy consumption by ten to twenty-five percent and saves you money on energy bills.

Heat pumps require moderate maintenance because they are used all year. Heat pump maintenance includes filter changes every one to three months, annual cleanings and servicings, typical vegetation and snow removal from the outside unit, and refrigerant charging as needed.

How Can I Tell How Old My Heat Pump Is?

Your heat pump’s age is helpful when deciding whether to repair or replace it. There are a few ways to determine how old your heat pump is:

  • Condenser nameplate

  • Manufacturing date

  • Installation date

Condenser Nameplate

The manufacture date might be found on the nameplate on the heat pump condenser or outside unit. The metal plate is typically on the rear of the condenser’s cabinet and lists the unit’s technical specifications. The manufacture date might be abbreviated as “MFR DATE” and is typically printed in one of the nameplate’s upper corners. The date might be given as the month or week and the year the unit was manufactured.

Manufacturing Date

If the manufacturing date is not on the unit’s nameplate, copy or take a picture of the brand name and the model and serial numbers on the nameplate. Manufacture dates are encoded in the numbers and can be extracted if you know how. For example, the first four numbers of serial number 1504011000 mean the unit was manufactured in the fourth month of 2015, but other brands use different formats. The middle four numbers of serial number 7351 F3817 16735 represent that the unit was manufactured in the thirty-eighth week of 2017.

The Building Intelligence Center website can help you extract the manufacturing date from serial or model numbers. If your brand is not listed on their website, type the serial and model numbers and the words “manufacture date” into a search engine to find resources that can help you.

Installation Date

The manufacture date is often close to the installation date. If you remember when your unit was installed, you can assume the manufacture date is proximate.

Signs It’s Time To Replace Your Heat Pump

It would be convenient if appliances had definite expiration dates so we would know when to replace them. Unfortunately, we can only go by their expected lifespans. Electric heat pumps and other appliances are often replaced after they give out, creating countless inconveniences. There is downtime without heating and cooling, less time to shop and compare models, installation scheduling issues, and higher rates during peak times of the year.

You can’t avoid replacing an aging heat pump, but you can prevent the issues caused by a heat pump from dying unexpectedly. Recognize the signs that it’s time to replace your heat pump so you don’t get stuck in a bind.

old heat pump outside of home


Heat pumps last about fifteen years, but they start to lose efficiency when they are about ten years old. A loss in efficiency means worse climate control and higher energy bills. A failing reversing valve is a common cause of diminished heat pump performance and inefficiencies.

Newer heat pump models offer higher efficiency ratings, and Energy Star-qualified units can reduce heating and cooling costs by up to twenty percent.

man looking shocked at heat pump electricity bill paper

Rising Energy Bills

Heat pump efficiency declines over time. Older heat pumps run longer cycles and consume more energy. If there’s an increase in energy costs that can’t be accounted for, the cause might be an old, inefficient heat pump.

man repairing heat pump outside of house

Frequent Repairs

Heat pump parts wear out over time and need to be replaced. Occasional minor repairs can keep an aging heat pump going, but frequent or major repairs on an old heat pump are not cost-effective. It makes more sense to put the money toward a new heat pump.

window with excessive humidity caused by faulty heat pump

Poor Indoor Air Quality

Heat pumps not only cool the air, but they also remove the humidity. Your heat pump might fail if you suddenly wonder, “Why is my house so humid?” Excessive humidity is uncomfortable. Even worse, it can cause mold and mildew issues in homes.

woman holding hand up to ear

Strange Noises

Noise from the heat pump’s compressor during heating and cooling cycles is normal. If a new noise catches your attention, it could be from old, worn-out components. Hissing, rattling, screeching, squealing, humming, and grinding noises indicate heat pump issues.

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How long does a heat pump last? While there is no definitive answer, heat pumps last fifteen years on average. Heat pumps generally have shorter lifespans than furnaces and air conditioners because heat pumps are used for heating and cooling.

Heat pump lifespan is affected by several factors. Undersized, oversized, overused, improperly installed, and poorly maintained heat pumps and heat pumps in cold and coastal climates have shorter lifespans. Well-maintained, adequately installed heat pumps in moderate inland climates last the longest.

A heat pump’s age is a good indication of when it needs to be replaced. Heat pumps lose efficiency after about ten years. A heat pump’s installation date is usually close to the manufacturing date. The manufacturing date can be frequently found on the condenser’s nameplate. The model and serial numbers on the nameplate can also be used to determine the manufacturing date.

Besides age, other signs indicate a heat pump needs to be replaced. Increased energy bills, frequent repairs, poor indoor air quality, and strange noises suggest that an older heat pump is failing.

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