Lifespan of Commercial Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning Units

commercial hvac unit life expectancyIn most cases when leasing warehouse or retail space tenants are responsible for the maintenance, repair, and replacement (if needed) of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) units. Before renting commercial space you need to make sure that you know how old the units are and how they have been maintained over the years or you will end up paying for costly repairs that were not caused by you. Below we will go into more detail as to why.

What Does HVAC Stand For or Mean?

HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. In most states that experience extreme heat and cold HVAC is common in residential properties such as apartments and single family homes, hotels, senior living facilities, apartment buildings, commercial properties such as office, retail, and industrial space, etc.

How Long do Commercial HVAC Systems Last?

The life expectancy of commercial hvac units is typically 15 to 20 years however depends on a number of factors such as:

  • Size of the system in relation to the building or space square footage
  • Size of the Unit in relation to the ductwork size
  • Preventative maintenance regularity
  • How often filters are changed
  • Climate and weather conditions
  • Intensity of use such as extreme cold settings or hot
  • Installation quality
  • Compatibility of system components age vs the units age

Average Lifespan of HVAC Components

  • Central Air Conditioner – 15 years
  • Rooftop Air Conditioner – 15 years
  • Air Compressor – 15 years
  • Heat Pump – 15 years
  • Boilers – 30 years

How Much Does it Cost to Replace an HVAC System per Unit?

The average cost can range from $4,500 to $5,000 however that depends on the size of the space you are trying to heat and cool. For example if you are trying to cool a 1200 sf space you might need a 2 ton unit. A 5,000 sf space might need a 5 ton unit. For larger commercial spaces expect to pay anywhere from $4,500 to 10,000 for each hvac unit being replaced. Replacing HVAC units can be costly upfront however your roi will be tremendous. When all the units are of similar age the entire system within the premises is more reliable and efficient, which means you can worry less about repairs costs.

Why Worry About HVAC Units When Leasing Warehouse Space?

When your leasing industrial space such as warehouse space Austin or office/warehouse space you most likely will be responsible for 100% of the repair, maintenance, and replacement (if needed) all all the HVAC units that service your space. That is because those units ONLY service your space an no others as you see with traditional office space. If the units die or need repair you have to pay for those costs no matter how old or bad the units are.

Because of this you have to make sure that you don’t sign a lease until you know all the important details about the HVAC units such as:

  • Age of each unit
  • Date installed
  • Manufacturer & model numbers
  • Repair & maintenance history of each unit (work done and cost)
  • Warranty information
  • Operating instructions
  • Previous service agreements

During the negotiations ask the landlord to have all of the HVAC systems inspected, maintenanced, and repaired or replaced if needed before you take occupancy. You may also ask for a warranty for the first year or two.

If the units are newer ask if their is any remaining manufacturer warranty.

If the systems are older and close to the lifespan of 10-15 years then you definitely want to get some sort of warranty or CAP on any hvac expenses. You have to keep in mind that an old unit will need more repairs than newer ones. Also, your utility bills will be higher because the older units are less efficient.

At the end of the day if the landlord is asking you to take over the maintenance and repairs of HVAC units that are at or over the typical life expectancy you need to stand your ground and negotiate to have them take most of the responsibility………….or go find another space.

HVAC Maintenance & Service Contract Needed When Leasing Industrial Space

If you lease industrial space and there are HVAC units you will be required to have an HVAC maintenance / service contract that typically must include the following services:

  • Adjust belt tension;
  • Lubricate all moving parts, as necessary;
  • Inspect and adjust all temperature and safety controls;
  • Check refrigeration system for leaks and operation;
  • Check refrigeration system for moisture;
  • Inspect compressor oil level and crank heaters;
  • Check head pressure, suction pressure and oil pressure;
  • Inspect air filters and replace when necessary (minimum of once per month);
  • Check space conditions;
  • Check condensate drains and drain pans and clean, if necessary;
  • Inspect and adjust all valves;
  • Check and adjust dampers;
  • Run machine through complete cycle;
  • Clean evaporative and condensing coils;
  • Check and repair all sheet metal duct, duct board, and flexible duct;
  • Inspect and replace if necessary all belts;
  • Inspect and repair if necessary unit housing;
  • Check thermostat operation;
  • Inspect and repair as necessary the heating elements; and
  • Any and all other items as recommended by the manufacturer of the unit(s).



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