Your air conditioning unit can help filter and circulate the air to remove irritants like pollen and mold, and it’s a fantastic way to cool your home. If you have asthma or allergies, you may be able to breathe easier once your AC unit reduces the amount of airborne irritants in your home’s air. This is why it’s essential to keep your system in good shape and know the general AC repair cost should it ever break down so you can have enough set aside to get it up and running again.
There are price fluctuations that you should consider when you’re figuring out your average AC repair cost, including how complex the fix is, the part you need, the unit’s exact issue or problem, and the company or brand you use. Some are more time-consuming to locate a problem and fix it, and this can drive your AC repair costs up. The same is true if your unit is in an area that is hard to reach, or if you picked out a more obscure brand when you purchased it.
On average, you’ll spend between $150 and $250 for your AC repair cost. However, the price can easily climb to between $450 and $1,000. This is for parts and labor, and your labor will add to your AC repair cost by $35.00 to $200 an hour, depending on how specialized a technician you need. Many contractors will give you a job quote versus an hourly rate, and this can help you get a more accurate estimate of your total project costs before they start. Also, your AC repair costs for a smaller window unit tend to be less than you’d pay to fix a centralized air issue.
It’s possible to DIY many repairs on your unit, but it’s always a good idea to pull a professional in for this project. This is especially true for central air conditioning units because working it on by yourself can void the warranty. If it does, you’ll have to pay out of pocket for your repairs. There’s also Freon to consider, and you want a licensed professional to handle it because it can be dangerous. We’ll break down what goes into creating the average AC repair cost bill, and you can use this guide to get a rough estimate for your repair work.
Repairing your air conditioning unit can be a very large undertaking to try and do by yourself, especially if you have central air instead of a portable or window unit. Calling in a technician ensures that you get the correct parts to get your system up and running as quickly as possible. AC Repair by Consumerist Dot Com / CC BY 2.0
Symptoms of AC Unit Failure
There are several symptoms and signs that it could be time to ask a technician to come out and perform repairs to your unit. You may experience one or a few of these symptoms in varying degrees of severity, including:
- Air not cooling
- Energy bills go higher than normal
- Excessive noise when the unit is on
- Freezing up due to a freon leak
- Humidity continues to build up in the air
- Ice buildup happens on the compressor, lines, or unit
- Lights flicker when you switch the unit on
- Little or no air makes it out of the vents
- Musty smell if your home’s humidity rises
- Switches on and off by itself
- Water leaks around your unit
- Won’t switch on
Unit Type and Average AC Repair Costs
What type of AC unit do you have? This can impact your AC repair costs, and these repairs can range from very expensive to cost-effective or simple to difficult. Each system has different issues, and the most popular types of units are:
- Central AC – HVAC or a central air unit has AC repair costs that are usually more due to the system’s complication level. Replacing the thermostat can cost between $75.00 and $500, unclogging drain lines run between $75.00 and $200, and changing the refrigerant or stopping leaks costs between $200 and $500.
- Ductless Mini Split – This ductless unit usually has more simple repairs associated with it. The main AC repair cost to worry about is replacing or fixing the air handler, and this can cost between $750 and $900.
- Portable – Normally, you’d mount this unit to the wall. However, there are units that you can move from room to room as you need it. Clogged drains are the biggest issues with these units, and your average AC repair costs range from $100 to $250.
- Swamp Cooler – This unit is more simple in design that an HVAC unit. You shouldn’t use it if you live in a humid, hot area. Replacing pads runs from $100 to $500, replacing belts runs from $65.00 to $85.00, and replacing the pump has a cost of $200 to $275.
- Window – You mount this unit inside a window to use it. They have compressors that can malfunction with use, and your repairs can range from $50.00 to $125. Thermostat failure is another big issue, and your AC repair costs range from $25.00 to $85.00 each.
AC Unit Part Replacement Costs
There are several parts in your AC unit that all have to work together to ensure the entire unit runs as it should. If one part stops working correctly, the system will either have to work much harder to cool the same amount of space, or it’ll break down completely. Your AC repair costs do depend on the part needed, and some of the most popular ones are:
On your AC unit, the blower is the part that makes the blade turn. As the blades turn, it forces air to travel through the system and come out into the room as cooler air. Your AC repair cost for this part runs between $150 and $600, on average.
The capacitor is the part that helps to reserve electrons. These electrons give the system energy, and this is why your AC unit can switch on whenever you need it to. Your AC repair cost with this part starts at $100 and goes up to $300.
Your AC unit runs on an electrical system, and this is why you can find yourself blowing fuses or getting an electrician in to rewire the house once you get your unit installed to keep everything safe. The circuit board has an AC repair cost of $100 to $500.
This part of your unit will work to create pressure in the refrigerant stored inside the machine. This will increase the temperature to above what is outdoors, and your AC repair costs for it will start a $1,000 and go up to $2,500.
When the unit pushes air through the evaporator coil, condensation will form. It’s important that this condensation leaves the unit before the unit gets too damp. This pump does just that, and the cost to replace it ranges from $100 to $200.
In your AC unit, the evaporator coil will push all of the heat from inside the unit’s house into the condensator. This is where the heat gets cooled down to prevent overheating. Your AC repair costs for this part start at $250 and go up to $2,500.
Your expansion valve works to decrease the pressure in the unit’s liquid refrigerant. Pressure changes will turn it from a liquid into a vapor. To replace this valve, you’ll typically pay an average of $250 to $450. However, the AC repair cost can quickly fluctuate.
When you run your AC unit, it can get very hot. When you turn it on, the fan motor works to prevent this from happening by cooling the heated refrigerant down. In turn, this keeps the whole unit cooler. Your AC repair cost will fall between $200 and $700.
When people think of fuses, they usually think of their cars or electrical panels. However, your AC also has fuses, and they can get overloaded. When they do, they blow. To replace your blown fuse, your AC repair costs will start at $15.00 and go up to $300.
Relays act as highways to send voltage to the different parts of the system when you switch it on and off. A broken relay results in a unit that doesn’t turn on properly when you want it to. Replacing this part has an average AC repair cost of $20.00 to $300, not including labor.
When you switch on your AC, you’ll set it to a certain temperature that the unit will work on until it reaches that chosen temperature. The thermostat is the part that constantly monitors your indoor temperature. Replacing it will vary, depending on how advanced it is. On average, your AC repair cost for this part starts at $50.00 and goes up to $450.
Sometimes, it’s a good idea to consider replacing individual parts rather than getting a whole new unit. This is especially true if you have a newer unit instead of an older one. Air Conditioning Repairs by KOMUnews / CC BY 2.0
Type of Repair Needed and Prices
What do you need repaired on your unit? Replacement part costs can quickly add up, so repairing the whole system may be more cost-effective than trying to replace individual parts. This is especially true if you’re working with a newer unit, and the most common AC repair costs include but are not limited to:
The blower houses the motor that makes the fan blades turn to stop your unit from overheating with extended or repeated use in a small time frame. This blower is vital to your system because it pushes out cool air while decreasing the amount of hot air you have indoors. Your average AC repair costs will run between $100 and $150.
The capacitor is the part that gives your system energy when you switch it on. It will send out a small burst of energy to start the motor or encourage it to keep running. The capacitor works with the outside unit, compressor, and blower motor to cool the air. Your average AC repair costs will start at $200 and go up to $250.
The circuit board is the electronic component that runs your unit each time you switch it on. It works to decide which voltage your unit should use under different circumstances. The average AC repair cost for this part runs between $100 and $150.
Clogged Air Filter
You should periodically clean out the air filter during periods of heavy use. If the filter clogs, this can cause your AC to work much harder than it has to, and this can cause burn out. A minimum service change to have someone come out and clean your clogged air filter or change it will run between $75.00 and $200 each time.
Clogged Drain Lines
Since you can’t pour a traditional drain cleaner down your unit’s drain line, you have to pay to have the clog removed. It’s common for leaves, dirt, and other debris to cause clogs. These clogs can result in mildew or mold buildup, and this can cause the humidity levels to rise while emitting a musty smell. Your AC repair cost will fall between $100 and $150 for clogged drain lines.
Your unit’s evaporator coil will work to remove heat from the house before releasing it back into the condenser to cool it down. The AC repair cost for this part if it springs a leak is around the same to replace it at $250 to $2,500. So, depending on the unit’s age, you may want to replace it for a new one.
The compressor is the pressure system for the unit that works to increase the refrigerant’s temperature. It’s usually located outside of your home, and many people consider it to be one of the most important parts. Repairs will usually run between $600 and $1,200, so it’s usually better to consider replacing it if it fails. You will pay slightly more to do so.
The outdoor part of a traditional HVAC unit is the condenser. Cleaning out this part usually involves getting out a shop vac and vacuuming up debris like leaves, grass, and dirt from the unit’s exterior. Then, your technician will get a soft brush to help straighten the unit’s fins and clean them off. They will remove the fan to reveal the full interior before cleaning it. They’ll also lubricate all of the parts, and this service will run between $100 and $300 each time.
Your unit’s expansion valve is the part that switches the liquid refrigerant inside the unit into a vapor. Once it converts the refrigerant to a vapor, this valve will force it into the evaporator. Your average AC repair costs for this part range from $150 to $200.
The fan motor has the important job of keeping your system cool as it runs to prevent it from overheating. It will cool the heated refrigerant that will then go through the AC coils to keep the temperature down. The AC repair costs start at $450 and go up to $650, on average.
Freon is the essential cooling refrigerant that runs the whole unit. If there is a leak involving this substance, you could pay between $200 and $1,500 for your AC repair costs. The costs will depend on where the leak is and how severe it is. You want a professional to come in at this point because freon can be dangerous.
You’ll periodically recharge your freon at $125 to $300 a go. This is typically included in the AC repair costs if the technician comes out to repair a leak since the freon levels are low at this point anyway. This will help your unit run better and stay cooler.
There are several repair types that your technician can perform. Once they run a diagnostic test, they can tell you how much you’ll pay for parts and labor to fix it and get your system running again. Air Conditioning Repairs by KOMUnews / CC BY 2.0
This appliance is a very technical one that uses both low and high-voltage circuits. If you don’t handle them correctly, they can be deadly. Most technicians have a basic service call fee that they use to diagnose your issue. Then, they’ll add the parts and labor to your AC repair cost. The fee they quote for parts will usually include labor and the part price.
If you need a basic service call, your AC repair costs will run from $80.00 to $300. If they charge by an hourly rate rather than by project, it’s $65.00 to $125 an hour. They’ll make a diagnostic assessment, and then they’ll add in the fee for labor and parts. Typically, when you have an older unit that starts to get damaged and break down, your AC repair costs can quickly climb to the cost of a full replacement. At this point, it’s easier to replace the whole unit than to try and repair each broken or damaged part.
Emergency AC Repair Costs
If you live in a humid or hot planting zone, one of the biggest fears you have is that your unit goes out when you need it the most. Luckily, most repair companies do include emergency callouts. But, these same companies usually charge more for a weekend, night, or holiday emergency repair.
However, if it goes out and it’s over 100 degrees outside, chances are, you’ll pay whatever emergency repair costs they want. Your AC repair costs for an emergency visit usually start at around $300 and go up, depending on how repairs you need and the parts.
Generally speaking, you’ll have either yearly or bi-yearly maintenance done on your unit. In most instances, you’ll have a licensed technician come out and perform the maintenance to avoid voiding your product warranty. The average maintenance prices range from $100 to $150 a visit.
During this maintenance visit, your technician will clean and inspect the inside and outside units, clean the unit’s drains, and clean or change out the air filter. At this point, they also usually check your coolant levels and make sure all of the parts are working correctly. There are several things you can do to help maintain your unit and keep your AC repair costs low, including:
- Check the air filter for any accumulated debris
- Clean or change the filter if it looks dirty or clogged between maintenance checkups
- Removal all overgrowth, vegetation, or fallen leaves from on or around the outdoor unit
- Turn your power off through the circuit breaker and wash off the outdoor unit with a hose to remove any stray debris accumulation
Should You Repair or Replace Your AC Unit?
Usually, the AC repair cost is much lower than trying to replace the system. Most units can easily last 10 years or more with regular maintenance. During the lifespan, you may have to replace a few parts or have minor repairs done. Most new AC units come with a 10-year warranty attached for parts, but these warranties typically don’t cover labor costs.
If you have a major or big repair, it’ll usually be higher than buying a new unit outright. AC repair costs can range from $50.00 to $2,500, particularly if you have an older unit installed. If you’re in this situation, you may want to heavily consider buying a whole new unit that comes with a full warranty rather than trying to keep a less efficient, older unit running through broken or malfunctioning parts.
Buying a whole new unit will typically cost between $3,500 and $10,000. A few cost factors that come into play during this purchase include the brand, the size of the unit, your home’s size, unit type, and any add-ons you can pick out like upgraded ductwork, extended warranties, and a high SEER rating.
Newer models are also very highly efficient when you compare them to old ones. Newer models also have a SEER Rating assigned, and this stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. You can figure out your unit’s rating, but you’ll have to know that it’s the energy consumed in watt-hours with the ratio of BTUs the unit has. If your unit is older than 15 years, it typically has a rating over six or less. New models have a rating of 14 at a minimum, and some go to 18 or higher. A new unit is much more energy-efficient, and this can increase your energy saving potential.
Where to Find an AC Repair Technician Near You
You typically want to have a professional, licensed, and experienced technician come in to work on your unit, even if this increases your average AC repair costs. You can start looking with the resource below and find local companies here:
Frequently Asked Questions
When your AC breaks down, many people have the same questions regarding repairs. We’ve picked out the most frequently asked ones so you can have them all in one convenient place. Air-conditioner repairing by ILO Asia-Pacific / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
1. What is the average cost to run an AC unit for an hour?
Your air conditioner will pull between 3,000 and 5,000 watts of power each hour it runs, and it’s not uncommon to run it for nine hours a day in the hotter or more humid months. In the United States, the average electricity cost is $0.127 per kWh. Your average hourly running cost will fall between $0.38 and $0.53.
2. Is it possible to unfreeze an air conditioner?
If your air conditioner has ice accumulation inside or outside of it, you have a problem. You’ll want to switch the unit off and let the ice melt as fast as possible. When the ice starts to melt, call your company. They’ll have to diagnose your problem and fix it to prevent it from freezing up again.
3. What is the average replacement cost for an air conditioner?
Depending on the unit’s size, how extensive of a project it’ll be, and if you need to install ductwork or not, your average costs to replace an air conditioner starts at $6,000 and goes up to $12,500.
4. Why isn’t the air conditioner cooling properly?
If you’ve had your air conditioner running for a while and you notice that it’s not cooling the room properly, you could have a part malfunction. Another common cause of this particular problem is that your freon levels are low or you have a leak.
Your AC repair costs can fluctuate very quickly, depending on a large range of factors. This quick guide will help you narrow down your potential AC repair costs by part price and typical labor rates. You can use it to create a budget and ensure that your home stays cool all spring and summer long.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.