How Much Does It Cost to Repair an AC Unit?
$125 – $459
The average cost to hire an HVAC service for air conditioning repair is $319. Some AC repair services have fixed rates for common jobs or a service call charge of $70 to $200, which usually covers the first hour of work. Get free estimates from AC repair companies near you or check out our air conditioner repair cost guide below.
AC Unit Repair Cost
AC unit repairs for small jobs such as a tune-up, refrigerant recharge, fan motor repair, or capacitor replacement costs $125 to $459 on average. Most AC repair services charge between $70 and $130 per hour, and some have a minimum service call fee or a flat rate of $70 to $200 on average.
For more extensive AC repairs such as replacing the compressor, evaporator coil, or condenser coil ranges from $500 to $2,000 on average. Your final cost depends on the problem and the price of the replacement part.
|National Average Cost||$319|
|Average Range||$125 to $459|
In general, repairs on an AC unit will include repair and cleaning of an evaporator coil leak or ductwork, or replacement of small or large unit parts. Regular tune-ups can keep your central air conditioning unit functioning properly by catching problems early. If your AC unit is getting close to fifteen years old, it might be less costly to replace the unit rather than keep repairing and replacing parts.
Table of Contents
- Service Call
- Compressor Replacement
- Refrigerant Recharge
- Capacitor Replacement
- Evaporator Coil Replacement
- Evaporator Coil Leak Repair
- Fan Motor Replacement
- Condenser Replacement
- Contactor Replacement
- Drain Pan Replacement
- Circuit Board Replacement
- Duct Work Repair
Air Conditioner Repair Cost Guide
Central air repair costs vary depending on the price of the part(s) that needs to be replaced and the number of hours it takes to fix. Here are common air conditioner problems and the average HVAC service costs charged by professionals.
|Repair Item||Average Cost|
|AC Service Call||$75 – $200|
|AC Tune-Up||$85 – $110|
|Home AC Compressor Replacement||$1,300 – $1,900|
|AC Refrigerant Recharge||$250 – $750|
|AC Capacitor Replacement||$120 – $150|
|Evaporator Coil Replacement||$675 – $1,300|
|Evaporator Coil Leak Repair||$1,300 – $2,000|
|AC Fan Motor Replacement Cost||$225 – $700|
|AC Condenser Replacement Costs||$840 – $4,214|
|Condenser Coil Replacement Cost||$581 – $3,610|
|Condensate Pump Replacement||$100 – $165|
|Condensate Drain Tube||$100 – $195|
|AC Contactor Replacement||$150 – $350|
|AC Drain Pan Replacement||$250 – $575|
|AC Circuit Board Replacement||$125 – $625|
|Fuses, Circuit Breakers, or Relays||$75 – $290|
|Thermostat Replacement||$75 – $575|
|Flush Drain Line||$75 – $250|
|AC Compressor Repair Hard Start Kit||$100 – $195|
|AC Lineset Replacement Cost||$165 – $625|
|Home AC Filter Drier Replacement Cost||$52 – $159|
|AC Duct Work Repair||$300 – $500|
Home AC Service Call Costs
A home troubleshooting AC service call costs between $70 and $200 depending on your location and the current demand. This callout fee is the minimum charge, but will likely be put toward the total cost of fixing your AC unit. Always ask about the AC service fee and if it is applied to your final bill or if it will remain a separate charge.
Labor costs for a central air repair service are between $70 to $130 per hour. Most companies have set prices for common repairs which include labor and parts, but if you have a non-common problem, you may be charged an additional labor fee. Ask before having the technician come out to your home.
For emergency air conditioning unit repair, service calls cost can run as high as $315 for a technician to come out on the weekend, during the night, or on a holiday.
Air Conditioner Tune-Up Cost
An AC tune-up cost will be about $85 to $110 for the one to two hours of work, or about $150 for a yearly maintenance agreement whereby it’s checked after each winter and summer. A regular six-month service visit can keep your air conditioner working efficiently and your energy bills in check. It can also extend the life of your AC unit. During a service visit, the technician will:
- Adjust the refrigerant levels
- Clean the coils and drains and remove debris
- Lubricate any moving parts
- Inspect the condensate drain
- Check the thermostat and refrigerant levels
- Inspect and repair the electrical parts
- Replace air filters
Some AC companies are willing to give you a monthly payment plan for regular maintenance visits and give a 10%–20% discount on repairs.
Home AC Compressor Replacement Cost
The cost of an AC compressor replacement is $1,300 to $1,900 on average. The compressor is the part that changes the liquid gas into cold air coming into your home. When the air conditioner starts blowing warm air, you have a compressor problem. The more of a charge the compressor loses, the higher the strain you place on the compressor, which can cause it to fail and leak refrigerant.
Signs of a Bad AC Compressor
The signs of a bad AC compressor can be quiet and subtle. Things like a diminished or warmer air flow from the vents, or noises when you turn it on, can point to a bad AC compressor. Your HVAC contractor will know for sure, but turn your AC off and don’t run it until it’s looked at.
Signs of a Bad AC Compressor Bearing
If you turn on your AC and hear a grinding noise, it may be a sign of a loose bearing. A squealing noise indicates a leaking bearing. Both issues need to be fixed before more permanent damage occurs.
AC Refrigerant Recharge Cost
An AC refrigerant recharge costs $250 to $750 on average. If the air conditioning unit is running, but the air coming out feels warm, you may need a refrigerant refill. Any time repairs are made to the AC unit, the refrigerant must be recharged. Refrigerant is a cooling liquid that runs through the coil and cools your home. This repair should take 1-2 hours.
Signs of Low Refrigerant or Freon in the AC
Sometimes refrigerant levels drop, and you’ll know if they do because you might hear a hissing or bubbling noise or notice an ice buildup on the outside unit. Higher electric bills is another sign of low refrigerant because the AC unit has to work harder.
AC Capacitor Replacement Cost
Replacing the AC capacitor costs $120 to $150 on average. There’s no exact AC capacitor price list, as most cost $10 to $23. If you choose to purchase a branded part, the repair could run as much as $400. A capacitor stores energy and sends it out when the motor needs to start. It’s a reasonably quick fix and should be completed within an hour.
Signs of a Bad AC Capacitor
A bad AC capacitor will lead to symptoms like a humming noise, a delay in coming on once the thermostat clicks, and high electric bills.
AC Evaporator Coil Replacement Cost
On average, an AC evaporator coil replacement costs $675 to $1,300. If your AC unit is frosty, the evaporator coil is most likely frozen. Also, if the air conditioner smells bad, there could be bacteria buildup on the coil. The cold liquid (refrigerant) inside the coil absorbs the heat away from your home. It will take from 2–4 hours for an HVAC technician to replace the air conditioner’s evaporator coil.
Evaporator Coil Leak Repair Cost
An AC evaporator coil leak repair costs $1,300 to $2,000. Pinhole leaks in the evaporator coil can develop as a result of VOCs combined with the moisture in the air. Acids will form and adhere to the coil, causing slow leaks. If your AC unit starts blowing warm air, it might be an indication that you have a leak.
AC Fan Motor Replacement Cost
An AC unit fan motor replacement costs $225 to $700 to repair, with the condensing unit fan motor part costing $60 to $135. The fan motor is essential to blow the cold air into your home. Without a blower motor to run the fan, the cold air will keep your AC unit cool but not much else. This repair takes up to two hours.
Home AC Condenser Replacement Costs
An AC condenser replacement cost is between $840 and $4,210 on average. The condenser contains a heat-exchange system that cools and condenses the refrigerant into liquid before it enters the coil.
- Condenser Coil Replacement Cost – Replacing the condenser coil costs about $580 to $3,610. The coil part costs $130 to $450. There are two coils in your AC unit. One of them is the condenser coil, and it is located outside. This is where the heat is removed from the refrigerant.
- Condensate Pump – The cost to replace a condensate pump is between $100 and $165 with the part usually costing about $45. As your AC unit runs, it produces condensation which the condensate pump removes.
- Condensate Drain Tube – It will cost about $100 to $195 to replace the condensate drain tube, with the tubing costing about $20 to $40. This drains the condensation the condensate pump is removing.
Signs of a Bad AC Condenser
You may have a bad AC condenser if you start feeling warm air come through the vents, or if you notice your power bills have been going up, but your home is not as comfortable as it was. Another sign may be strange noises when you turn the AC on. Listen and try to determine what kind of sound it is so you can tell the technician when you call.
Cost to Replace AC Contactor
The cost to replace the AC contactor is about $150 to $350, and the part costs $10 to $45. The contactor controls the electricity going to the different components of the AC contactor. This can take about an hour to replace.
AC Drain Pan Replacement Cost
On average, an AC drain pan replacement costs $250 to $575. Before the water hits the drain tube, it collects in the drain pan, and from there it goes down the drain tube. Over time the drain pan can crack, causing leaks, and it needs to be replaced.
AC Circuit Board Replacement Price
Replacing an AC circuit board costs $125 to $625. For parts, the AC circuit board ranges from $100 to $150. The circuit board sends power where it’s needed—it’s the brains of the outfit, and usually fails with age. It usually takes about an hour to repair. HVAC systems contain PCBs in the condensing unit and the air handler.
AC Duct Work Repair Cost
The cost to repair AC duct work runs between $300 to $500 on average. It’s the ductwork that delivers cold air to each room in your house, and if it develops cracks which leak, they need to be repaired. Having faulty ductwork makes your system work harder with worse results. Your house will not be adequately cooled, and your energy bills will go up. Installing new ductwork for the entire home will cost an average of between $8,900 and $12,300.
Additional Central AC Repair Costs
- Fuses, Circuit Breakers, or Relays – The cost to repair or replace fuses, circuit breakers, and relays is about $75 to $290. These things control the flow of electricity through your AC system, making sure there are no shorts or surges which could damage your whole system.
- Thermostat Replacement – The cost to replace a thermostat runs about $75 to $575. The thermostat itself can range from $10 to $280 depending on the number of features you want. Your thermostat is what keeps the room temperature stable. If you set the thermostat for 75 degrees, it will turn the AC unit off and on to maintain that temperature.
- Flush Drain Line – The cost to flush the drain line is about $75 to $250. The drain line can become clogged with dirt, small leaves, and debris from the surrounding air.
- AC Compressor Repair Hard Start Kit – The cost of an AC hard start kit is from $100 to $195. The hard start kit reduces the time it takes for your AC unit to turn on. If your AC unit has a hard time starting up and turns off sooner than you think it should, it needs attention.
- AC Lineset Replacement Cost – The AC lineset replacement cost is $165 to $625. The line set runs the refrigerant through places that are difficult to get to—in walls, under the slab foundation, and under stairs. If it leaks, it will need to be replaced.
- Home AC Filter Drier Replacement Cost – Home AC drier replacement will cost $52 to $159 for just the part, and labor is extra. The filter traps moisture and contaminants so they won’t be introduced into the air circulating in your home. The filter drier removes that moisture to keep the filter working effectively.
Common AC Problems
There are some telltale signs of common AC problems.
How to Tell if Your AC Is Broken
- The AC unit won't turn on.
- No cool air coming is out of the vents.
- The thermostat display is blank.
- Strange noises are coming from your AC system.
- The indoor unit is leaking water.
- It keeps turning on and off.
- There’s a bad smell coming from the vents.
- Your utility bills are unusually high.
Many common AC problems occur that only a professional can fix, and this should be done before more permanent damage happens.
AC Won’t Turn On
First, check the circuit breaker. It’s possible it has just tripped. If you flip the circuit breaker and the AC still doesn’t come on, it may be a thermostat problem.
The AC Unit Is Running, but the Air Coming Out of the Registers Doesn't Feel Cold
This could be a problem with the control board, or perhaps the refrigerant is the cause of the problem. Either problem requires an HVAC contractor to solve the problem.
The Air Conditioner Is Making Weird Noises
Your AC unit has a language all its own, and certain noises mean specific things.
- Screaming – or a high-pitched screaming sound at the outside portion of your AC unit. The most likely problem is the compressor. Turn off the AC unit and call your technician.
- Knocking – a sound in the outside unit is probably caused by something that fell into the unit like a stick, and it’s hitting the fan. Turn off the AC and call the professional.
- Metal on Metal – this is in the outside unit and probably means the fan motor bearings have gone bad. The fan motor needs to be replaced.
- Gurgling – it’s possible there is a refrigerant leak, or perhaps the drain line is gurgling as water goes through it.
- Clicks (when AC is on) – they get faster as time goes on, and it’s possible there is an obstruction in the fan.
- Clicks (when you’re trying to turn on the AC) – a sign of an electrical problem. Call your HVAC technician.
The Air Conditioner Smells Bad
When air conditioners start putting off a bad smell, they have one of two problems.
- A moldy, mildew smell – there could be a bacteria/mold buildup on the evaporator coil or in the ductwork.
- A rotten egg smell – it’s possible a pest crawled inside and died. Call your local pest control technician, and they can take care of it.
The AC Unit Is Short Cycling – Shuts off or Turns on Too Soon
Short cycling is when the air conditioner stops short of completing a full cooling cycle. There are a few possible reasons for this.
- A dirty air filter
- Frozen evaporator cells
- Low levels of refrigerant
- Electrical problems within the system
Try These DIY Solutions
- Replace the air filter and try again. If it’s still short cycling, go to the next step.
- Visually inspect the evaporator cell. If there is ice present, let it melt and then try again. If the short cycling continues, you’ll need some professional help.
Water Is Leaking Inside & Around Your Unit
If water is leaking, it’s most likely the condensate drain is leaking. A leaky unit something that needs to be taken care of quickly because the water can eventually leak into your home.
My Utility Bills Are Abnormally High
There a few reasons why your utility bills can be abnormally high and probably not cooling your house efficiently.
- Leaking ductwork – if cold air is leaking out of the ductwork in the attic spaces, it’s not keeping your home cool. This causes the thermostat to keep telling the AC unit to put out cool air, and with the unit running longer and trying harder, the energy bills go up.
- Refrigerant is low – if the refrigerant levels are low, the unit will have to work harder to cool the air.
Your AC Unit Is Icy or Frosty
The evaporator coil is most likely frozen. The cause is generally a lack of airflow over the evaporator coil, which is caused by a plugged filter. Without airflow, moisture from the air will collect on the evaporator coil and freeze. Turn off the AC unit, let the ice melt, change the filter, and try again. If it still happens, call the HVAC technician, because something is probably wrong with the condenser coil.
Additional Signs Your AC Is Going Out
If we do regular maintenance to the HVAC system, we can catch problems before they become major ones.
- Signs of Bad AC Thermostat – It could time to replace the thermostat if the system won’t turn on or off. If you notice the room temperature doesn’t seem to match with the setting, or if there is no display at all, you could need a new thermostat.
- Signs of a Lightning Strike to an AC Unit – If lightning happens to strike your AC unit, it will cause a major power surge, which could result in permanent damage to your AC. Lightning will blow out fuses, and parts will need to be replaced.
Dangers of Postponing Repair
When it’s time to fix the air conditioner, delaying the inevitable could result in more damage to the AC unit, higher power bills, and an uncomfortably warm house in the middle of summer.
- Increased Utility Bills – When the AC starts to have problems, it has to work harder and longer to create cold air. This results in increased utility bills and might be the first sign that your AC needs attention.
- Warm House – You may notice that your house isn’t as cool as it is typically. Get the AC checked out just in case it needs maintenance.
- AC Replacement Costs – Replacing your AC unit is a significant project. A simple change-out (not replacing any ductwork) will run about $5,000–$8,000 and should take just a day to do it. If you have to replace ductwork, it will take 3–5 days and cost $9,200–$12,300.
- Strained Systems Overheat – When your system is dirty, and filters are plugged, and perhaps refrigerant is low, it will not be working at optimum efficiency and could overheat. This makes they HVAC system work harder, creating a cycle that doesn’t end. An overworked system will also cause your energy bills to rise. It’s possible that the size of AC unit you have is not big enough for your house. If the system is too small, it will have to work harder and may overheat. Generally, an HVAC system costs $4,820 to $9,350 to install a 5-ton unit for a 2,000- to 3,000-square-foot home.
AC Maintenance Cost
There are some things you can do yourself to keep your AC working and in good condition, or you can pay an AC maintenance cost of $150 to $300 to have it done for you once or twice a year.
Schedule Annual AC Maintenance and Tune-Up
An AC unit maintenance cost can be $50 to $110 for a single visit, or you can sign up for a maintenance plan with your local heating and air conditioning company. That will cost about $150 to $300 a year. You’ll get one or two maintenance visits per year, plus another service call, a discount on parts, and usually some other perks. Some companies offer priority appointments to their maintenance plan members.
How to Maintain an AC Unit
- Keep the Coils Clean – Keep the outside unit clean. Brush away dirt and leaves, and keep it free from obstructions or anything poking into the unit. A gentle spray with your garden hose—not a pressure washer—will keep the inside free of dust.
- Ensure Your Dryer Vent Is Not Pointed Toward Your AC Unit – If your outside unit is near the dryer vent, make sure the vent is pointed away from the AC. The lint from the dryer can get inside the AC unit and cause problems.
- Change the Filter – Change the filter once a month. A dirty, clogged filter will cause your AC to work harder, which will cost you more.
- Check Your Ductwork and Seal Open Spaces – Seal air leaks around doors and windows, and check the ductwork for air leaks as well. This ensures all cool air is delivered to the inside of your home, and once there, it stays there. The AC unit will not have to work harder to keep your home cool, thus keeping energy bills down and decreasing wear and tear on the unit.
- Keep Surrounding Bushes and Shrubbery Trimmed – Keep landscaping from encroaching on the unit. Allowing good airflow will go far towards the proper operation.
- Replace or Adjust Your Thermostat – Program the thermostat to keep your home cool while you’re home but set the temp higher if no one is home, such as during the daytime working hours. You’ll use less energy, reduce wear and tear on your AC unit, and have lower energy bills. If your thermostat is not programmable, consider replacing it.
Central AC Energy Saving Tips
You can do many things to save energy during the hot summer months. Saving energy reduces your power bill and keeps your AC running effectively.
- Open your windows when it cools down to regulate heat. Use drapes or UV-blocking window film to help reject heat and add privacy.
- Set your thermostat as high as you possibly can. The inside and outside temperature should be as close as possible. The wider the range between the two temperatures, the harder your system will work.
- Use fans to circulate the cool air and provide air flow, which is cooling in itself. Ceiling fans help with this. Turn them off when you leave the room.
- Avoid using the oven on hot days, and cook outside on the grill instead.
- Purchase energy-saving lightbulbs that do not give off heat.
- Instead of using the dryer, hang clothes on the line to dry using the outdoor sun and wind.
- Lower the temperature of your water heater. You don’t need such hot water in the summer, so you’ll keep your home cooler and save money on power bills.
Starting in 2016, a new HVAC standard requires all residential AC units to have a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) of 13 or higher. New AC units are highly energy efficient with SEER Ratings of 14 to 18 while AC units older than 15 years typically have a SEER of 6 or less. A brand new model will provide substantial energy savings compared to an older unit.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should You Tip an AC Repairman?
As a general rule, AC repairers are not tipped, but there is also no rule against it. If you’ve had a particularly helpful technician who has gone the extra mile, there is no insult in offering him or her a tip.
How Much Does Freon AC Cost?
Freon and other refrigerants cost $80 to $115 per pound. To buy Freon, you need a level two certification since refrigerants are a controlled substance.
How Much Does an Air Conditioner Freon Refill Cost?
The cost to hire an air conditioner service to refill your Freon is $170 to $410 on average. The repair should take 1 to 2 hours at an average hourly rate of $70 to $200.
How Much Does Portable Air Conditioner Repair Cost?
The cost to repair a portable air conditioner is $75 to $150, with most problems being caused by a clogged filter, the compressor overheating, or the unit being too large for the room size.
AC Repair Free Estimate
Most HVAC companies will come to your home to investigate the problem and give you an AC repair free estimate before they work on the issue. If they do charge for an estimate, most of the time they will credit that amount back to you.
What to Look for in an AC Service
- A professional HVAC contractor should be licensed by the Contractors State License Board in your state. Checking for licensing is easy to do online.
- They should come out to your home to give an estimate. Someone who gives you an estimate over the phone should be avoided.
- An accurate estimate will be in writing.
- Check their BBB, HomeGuide, and Google reviews.
- Use a service company that’s been in business for three years or more.
- Check to see if they are members of their industry’s professional organizations, such as North American Technician Excellence (NATE), Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), or the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA).
Air Conditioning Questions to Ask
- Are they licensed, insured, and bonded?
AC repair companies should be licensed by the state and carry a minimum of $500,000 liability insurance.
- Are their technicians certified by professional organizations such as AHRI, EPA 608, or NATE?
Membership in professional organizations shows their desire to stay on top of new trends, products, and laws.
- Has the company obtained an AHRI Performance Certification?
The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) is the trade association covering the manufacturing of HVAC products. Having this certification assures your customers that the equipment they use is safe and reliable.
- What types of warranties or guarantees are offered?
Before you sign the contract, know exactly what kind of warranty they offer. Does it apply to labor or parts, or both? Is their work covered or just the new parts?
- If your AC is under warranty, is the company certified to do warranty work for the brand you own?
It’s possible that having an unqualified technician work on your AC unit will void the warranty. HVAC technicians and employees are trained to work on different brands of AC, so make sure they are trained on your brand.
- How long has the company been in business?
The length of time they’ve been in business speaks to the satisfaction of their clients. Having a physical address generally means they are serious about their business and plan to stay around. The longer they have been in business, the more experience they have.
- Does the company provide a 24-hour, 7-days-a-week emergency service?
When it’s time to hire an HVAC company, choose one that offers 24/7 service. If you have an emergency, you want to be able to call someone who already knows you and your AC system.
- Does the company have any testimonials and references for you to review?
A company should always be able to provide references and encourage you to check them. They should also have testimonials available on their website, although these might be cherry-picked.
- Does the HVAC repair company regularly undergo background checks and drug testing for employees?
Always make sure you know which technician is going to work in your home. They should have a badge with their picture on it, and the person who gave you the estimate should give you the name of the person who will be in and out of your home. It can be hard to ask questions about a background check and drug testing, but the safety of your family depends on it.
- Will the technician inspect the entire air conditioning system including the ductwork?
The technician should inspect the duct system to look for leaks and problems. Inspecting the AC unit only is half the job.
- How and when does the company charge for services?
Know precisely how and when the company expects to be paid. Some may require a down payment on larger jobs. If they only accept checks, but you planned on using a credit card, you may be stuck when it’s time to pay the bill.
- Are financing options available for larger repairs?
Many HVAC companies offer to finance for more expensive repairs. Ask about this ahead of time and know exactly what the terms are.
- If the company advertises a “special offer,” are there conditions which must be met to qualify?
A company often offers a “fixed right, or it’s free” warranty. This is not usually attached to any conditions other than the repair being done correctly.
- Will the HVAC company provide a detailed written estimate before the work begins?
If that answer is no, then move on to the next estimate you’ve received. If a company will not put anything in writing, that should wave a red flag about their honesty and integrity.
Here are the top certifications to check for when hiring an HVAC specialist. At the minimum, your technician should be “Level II Certified” or have a “Universal Certification” to work on your central air conditioner.
Having this certification tells you that your technician is properly trained and will match you with the right products. They will be able to give you a certificate of certified product performance, which states that the indoor and outdoor unit are correctly matched and functioning properly.
The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) requires that anyone who opens a system containing refrigerant be certified (trained) to open that system. Refrigerants like Freon are controlled substances and can be dangerous for untrained hands. Your technician should have a Level Two certification.
North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certification ensures the person working on your system knows what they are doing. Each person who wishes to be a certified technician must pass the NATE test. You can check on the technician who is working in your home by going to their website and entering the NATE ID belonging to him. www.natex.org
While an excellence certification is not required to be an HVAC technician, it does provide another level of validation. The excellence certification assures you of the technical competency of your technician.
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