Your complete AC Repair cost guide for 2021
- Average repair cost for an AC unit under 12 years old – $120 to $450
- Average repair cost for an AC unit over 12 years old – $450 to $3,000
Types of AC Repairs
The average cost for a repair depends on the category the repair falls into: minor or major.
- $120 to $450 – With a minor AC repair, a tech can easily access and replace the inexpensive parts and components that fail. These repairs are common with systems under 12 years old.
- $450 to $3,000 – A major AC repair concerns the failure of expensive parts and components that are difficult to access. Such repairs typically occur on systems over 12 years old.
Minor AC Repair Cost
A minor AC repair cost will range from $120 to $450 and commonly be found on AC systems under 12 years old. The prices can vary depending on the material and time required to fix the problem.
|Minor AC Repair||Cost|
|Blow Out Drain Line||$120|
|Run New Drain Line||$250|
|Install New Drain Line Safety Switch||$250|
|Install New Drain Pan||$300|
|Replace Clogged Filter||$120|
|Change Thermostat Batteries||$120|
|Install Basic Thermostat||$175|
|Install Programmable Thermostat||$450|
|Run New Low Volt T-stat Line||$350|
|Install Circuit Board||$250-$400|
|Install Surge Protector||$250|
|Add 410A Freon Cost Per Pound||$55|
|Add R22 Freon Cost Per Pound||$105|
|Add Leak Seal||$250|
|Water Wash Outdoor AC Unit||$200|
|Replace AC Capacitor||$150|
|Compressor Hard Start Kit||$250|
AC Drainage Repair Cost
If you need to repair your AC drain line, it will cost you around $120 to $250. If you’ve ever taken a look at the indoor unit of your air conditioning system (air handler or furnace), you’ve probably noticed that there’s a large metal pan sitting beneath it. This is the drain pan, and it’s there to catch the condensation created during the cooling process. The drain line connected to the bottom of the pan carries the water outside your home. If the line is not checked regularly for clogs and cleaned, it can cause numerous problems. When your drain line clogs, the drain pan fills with water. If the drain pan gets too full, the safety switch will turn off your air conditioner to prevent water damage. If you notice water building up in the drain pan, have the issue investigated as soon as possible; a drainage repair usually doesn’t cost much.
- Blow out AC drain line – $120
- Run new AC drain line – $250
- Install AC drain line safety switch – $250
- Replace drain pan – $300
Filtration repair Cost
If your air conditioner is not cooling and an AC tech finds that it’s due to a clogged filter, the average filter replacement cost will be $120. One of the main jobs of your air handler or furnace is to push air throughout your home, and the air filter’s job is to clean the air that circulates through your HVAC system. All of the air that heats or cools your home will, at some point, pass through the air filter. Dirty filters cannot trap dust, fur, and other air-contaminating particulates effectively, allowing such materials to accumulate in your system’s ductwork or circulate back into your home, affecting your health and comfort. The extra stress put on your AC can cause other components to fail and shorten the life of your entire air conditioning system. An AC filter repair cost will run around $120 because of the time it takes the tech to diagnose the problem.
- Replace clogged filter – $120
- Upgrade to a 2″ media filter – $200
- Upgrade to a 4″ media filter – $450
The average cost to fix a problem with your thermostat ranges from $120 to $450. Many things can go wrong with a thermostat. It can be tricky to find the problem without an AC repair tech. The majority of the repair cost will be due to the time the tech will need to diagnose the problem.
- Change thermostat batteries – $120
- Reprogram thermostat – $150
- Install new basic thermostat – $175
- Install new programmable thermostat – $450
- Run new low volt T-stat line – $350
The cost to repair the electronic components on your air conditioner will range from $250 to $450. The control boards are what communicate with your thermostat. Sometimes there can be a short on the board, and it will need to be replaced. A surge protector can help keep this from happening. The repair cost will vary depending on the manufacture of the control board.
- Circuit board cost – $250 to 400
- Defrost board cost – $250
- Surge protector cost – $250
The average cost to repair a blower is around $350. The blower, found in the air handler or furnace, is responsible for pushing conditioned air throughout your home. A failed blower will need to be replaced, but sometimes it’s just so dirty that it can no longer effectively blow air, and cleaning will resolve the issue. A blower repair is typically quick and easy.
- Blower replacement cost – $450
- Blower cleaning cost – $200
The cost to add one pound of freon to your AC is going to cost from $55 to $105 depending on the type. Freon, also known as coolant or refrigerant, plays a critical role in the cooling process. It’s the freon’s job to absorb the heat from your home and release it outside. If freon levels are low, the AC unit will take longer to cool your home or business. Loss of freon is not a normal part of an air conditioning system’s operation and could indicate a leak due to coil corrosion. Adding leak seal for about $250 can be a six-month temporary fix before you need a new air conditioner. If the hole is small enough, you can add freon to get your AC cooling again. To add three pounds of freon can cost $165 to $315; it starts adding up fast. If there is a leak, the freon will need to be refilled repeatedly as it continues to leak out; and if the leak is not addressed, it could lead to major repairs or replacement of the entire unit. An AC technician should find and fix any leaks, test the repair, and THEN add refrigerant. If there are multiple leaks or serious ones, the technician may recommend replacing the evaporator coil.
- Add 1 pound of 410A freon cost – $55 pre lb.
- Add 1 pound of R22 freon cost – $105 pre lb.
- Add leak seal cost – $250
The average cost to clean your outdoor AC unit starts at $200. Because AC units (condensers) sit outside, they are exposed to dirt, falling leaves, and other debris, which naturally build up over time as your air conditioner operates. If the condenser coil inside the unit is not cleaned out, it can’t cool your home efficiently. Most of the cost behind an H2O wash comes from the time it takes the tech to take everything apart and clean it.
- Cost to wash outdoor AC unit with water – $200
- Cost to clean blower wheel – $325
The cost to replace an AC capacitor on average is $120, while a hard start kit will run $250. A compressor needs an electrical surge to start. A capacitor stores electricity inside it, and when your air conditioner turns on, it releases an electrical surge into the compressor to get it started. When your compressor is reaching the end of its life, a hard start kit can be used to help it run a little longer. These repairs are inexpensive but can be signs that a more expensive repair is coming.
- Replace AC capacitor cost – $150
- Install compressor hard start kit cost – $250
Major AC Repair Cost
The average major AC repair will cost from $450 to $3000 and commonly be found on AC systems over 12 years old.
|Major AC Repair||Cost|
|Pull & Clean Evaporator||$850|
|Replace Evaporator Coil||$1000-$3000|
|Replace Condenser Coil||$1000-$3000|
|Replace Fan Motor||$500-$700|
|New Line Set||$575-$700|
|Expansion Valve / TXV||$650|
|Replace Attic Latter||$550|
For the average homeowner, the cost to replace a compressor runs from $600 to $1500. The compressor is one of the most critical parts of an air conditioner and one of the most expensive. The cost to repair the compressor is primarily tied up in the equipment cost. The price varies due to the availability, brand, SEER rating, and so on.
- Replace compressor cost – $600 to $1500
Coil replacement will cost a homeowner between $850 and $3000. Air conditioner coils are hard to get to and expensive to repair. The time it takes to disassemble the air handler, clean the coil, and reassemble the unit accounts for the majority of the cost of a pull and clean. The cost to replace a coil is high due to the material and labor cost.
- Pull and clean evaporator coil cost – $850
- Replace evaporator coil cost – $1000 to $3000
- Replace condenser coil cost – $1000 to $3000
The price to replace a fan motor runs between $500 to $700. The fan motor is responsible for pushing air through the condenser coils to cool the freon. With age, the fan can give out. The replacement cost is primarily based on the cost of the fan itself since the part is easy to access and replace.
- Replace fan motor – $500 to $700
Depending on how far the line set runs, a new line set will cost a homeowner around $575 to $700.
- Single-story home line set – $575
- Two-story home line set – $700
The cost to replace an expansion valve is around $650. An expansion valve is also commonly known as a TXV. This device is designed to monitor the freon levels in your system. A TXV is so expensive due to the amount of time it takes to remove and install it; the TXV itself costs around $175. To pump down the freon, remove and replace the TXV, then put the freon back is a long process to do correctly and accounts for most of the repair cost.
- Replace expansion valve cost – $650
Ductwork Repair Cost
The cost to repair ductwork can range from $250 to $3,000, depending on how extensive a repair is needed.
|New Duct Run||$150|
|Rebuild Supply Plenum||$575|
|Rebuild Return Plenum||$475|
|Duct Blast Test||$400|
|Ductwork Cleaning Pre Vent||$100|
A new duct run costs the average homeowner $150 per run. If you want all new ductwork, all we have to do is extrapolate. If you have 15 registers in your home, 15 runs are needed and all new ductwork will cost $2250.
- New ductwork run – $150+
- Example: (15 replacement duct runs) x ($150 per run) = ($2250 total)
Rebuilding the plenum that connects your air hander to your ductwork costs $475 to $575. Not many materials go into rebuilding a plenum; the cost comes from the time it takes to build one. If you need your supply or return plenum repaired, this should give you a good idea of how much it’s going to cost.
- Rebuild supply plenum cost – $575
- Rebuild return plenum cost – $475
Duct disinfectant runs around $65 as an add-on service at the time of repair; otherwise, it will run closer to $200 as an individual service. A duct disinfectant will not clean your duct but inactivate or destroy microorganisms currently in your ducts and reduce any odors you might be experiencing. A duct blast test will usually be required when 80% or more of the ductwork is replaced to ensure everything is sealed correctly and to prevent many future problems. Ductwork cleaning will cost around $100 per vent cleaned. This process requires a special tool that few HVAC companies have. If you have 15 vents in your home, with it costing $100 per vent, it’s going to cost you around $1500 to clean all ducts in your home.
- Duct disinfectant cost – $65
- Duct blast test cost – $400
- Ductwork cleaning cost per vent – $100
- Example: (15 ducts that need cleaning) x ($100 per duct) = ($1500 total)
HVAC service cost
The cost to service an HVAC system ranges from $75 to $300, depending on the type of service needed.
|Spring Preventative Maintenance||$300|
|Fall Preventative Maintenance||$250|
|HVAC Filter Change-Out||$15|
Spring and fall are perfect times to schedule preventative maintenance on your air conditioning system since you won’t be using it as much for heating or cooling as you would in other seasons. With regular maintenance, you can ensure that your system continues to operate safely and efficiently while preventing the sudden need for a total AC replacement.
Spring preventative maintenance typically costs the average homeowner around $300 and is usually scheduled before the summer starts to ensure the AC is ready to handle the summer heat. It includes a thorough inspection of the indoor and outdoor units, compositor replacement, a basic repair if no materials are required, and as-needed cleaning.
Fall preventative maintenance is going to cost around $250 and is typically scheduled before the winner hits to ensure the furnace is ready to handle the cold. Fall PMA mainly focuses on the indoor unit; little work is done on the outdoor unit unless your air conditioning system is a heat pump.
- Spring PMA cost – $300
- Fall PMA cost – $250
An AC tune-up is going to cost around $125 per visit. It includes a diagnosis of your system, quick cleaning, and a diagnosis report. This process is not as thorough as a PMA and takes the tech about an hour to perform.
An AC check-up is going to cost around $75. This service includes a basic diagnosis and report; no repairs, cleaning, or other services. It’s simply a professional look at the system to tell you what is wrong.
- AC tune-up cost – $125
- AC check-up cost – $75
A month filter change service will vary depending on the type and quantity of filters that need to be replaced at a time. Your local AC service company will charge around $15 per filter they change for you.
- Month filter change cost – $15/filter
DIY air conditioner repair
There are a few things you can do before calling your AC repair guy to see if you can fix the problem before spending money on an unnecessary repair.
- Check your filter
- Check your thermostat
- Clean your outdoor AC unit
- Check the drain line
The filters in your air conditioning system gather dust, pollen, pet hair, and other debris over time, so they must be changed regularly. Dirty filters impede airflow, compromising your indoor air quality and forcing your air conditioning system to work harder to push air throughout your home and keep you comfortable. It’s easy to forget filter changes, but a clogged filter puts a big load on your air conditioner, to the point it’s no longer able to heat and cool your home properly. It’s best to change your air filters every 45 days to keep this from happening. Your AC should start cooling again within 30 minutes of replacing a clogged air filter; if not, move on to the next item.
Thermostat problems are commonly overlooked. While the air filter’s purpose is to clean the air that circulates through the HVAC system and your home, it’s the thermostat’s job to maintain the correct temperature of that air. Make sure it’s on (contains working batteries), clean, and set to the desired temperature. Many thermostats must be manually set to heat or cool. For example, if winter is over and it’s starting to get warm outside, you may need to switch the thermostat to cool mode before your AC will turn on.
If your home is not staying as cool as you’d like, dirty condenser coils might be to blame. The outdoor AC unit or condenser plays a vital role in cooling your home and keeping you comfortable by condensing the refrigerant and removing heat from the air. Refrigerant travels through the condenser coils, carrying heat from inside your home. As the air conditioner blows air over the condenser coils, the heat from the refrigerant is transferred to the air outside, removing it from your home. Because condenser units sit outside, they are exposed to dirt, falling leaves, and other debris, which naturally build up over time as your air conditioner operates. It doesn’t take much dirt to decrease their effectiveness. Dirty condenser coils limit the amount of air that can blow through the unit. Dirt, pollen, and other airborne particles act as insulators, keeping the heat trapped inside, hindering the heat transfer from the coils to the air outside. It’s good practice to clean your outdoor AC unit a few times a year, clearing away any vegetation and spraying off any dirt you see on the AC unit with a water hose. This should help it perform better and maybe prevent an unnecessary AC repair.
The last thing you can check for before calling your trusted AC company is a clogged drain line. After a hot Texas summer of regular AC use, it’s a good idea to check your condensate drain line for blockages and pour half a cup of vinegar in it to clear it. The condensate drain line carries the water outside that your air conditioner naturally produces as a byproduct during the cooling process. Like the air filter, the drain line can become clogged with dirt, dust, lint, and fur. If the line is not checked regularly for clogs and cleaned, it can cause numerous problems. When your drain line clogs, the drain pan can fill with standing water, preventing the system from doing its job, increasing the indoor humidity levels, and contributing to mold and mildew growth. Many homes are now built with safety switches on the drain pan. If the drain pan gets too full, the safety switch will turn off your air conditioner to prevent water damage. So if your air conditioner was working fine and suddenly stopped working, check for a clogged drain line. If you see that your drain pan is holding water, pouring vinegar in it to clear it will often fix the problem, saving you the cost of a service call.
How long will an AC repair fix my air conditioner
If air conditioners and furnaces are installed and maintained correctly, you can get about 20 years of useful life out of them. To answer how long an AC repair should last is hard to say, but if we assume your AC was installed correctly and properly maintained, we can answer the question more simply.
- If the unit was not installed correctly, no matter how well you maintain it, it will fail before it reaches 20 years of age. We have seen some air conditioning systems fail due to a bad install within the first three years. Many builders will undersize an air conditioner on a new home to save a few dollars, leaving the overworked system to run itself to death prematurely. That is why you should always use a licensed and insured company because they will often fix it for free when you can file a complaint at the state level.
- Lack of proper maintenance by the homeowner or tenant will dramatically shorten the lifespan of the air conditioner or furnace. One of the biggest killers of air conditioner systems is constantly clogged filters. When filters are not changed routinely, the system has to work overtime to cool and heat your home, adding a lot of wear and tear and shortening the life of the units.
5-year-old AC system
Assuming your air conditioner was properly installed and maintained, you should not expect to have any AC repairs in the first five years.
10-year-old AC system
Expect only one or two fairly inexpensive, minor AC repairs with normal wear and tear, such as replacing a capacitor or blowing out a drain line.
15-year-old AC system
You’re going to start running into some problems when your air conditioner gets older than 15 years old. Expect and plan for a couple minor repairs and one expensive major repair.
20-year-old AC system
Once an air conditioner gets over 20 years old, it really starts showing its age. At this point, you are going to want to start comparing the difference between repairs and replacements. A major AC repair could cost $3000 to get you back up and running and may only last six months. A system requiring minor repairs under $1000 is worth fixing to see how long it will go. But once it needs a major repair for more than $1000, I would stop putting any more money into it and buy a new AC system.
Find the right AC repair company
It can be a challenge for most homeowners to find a good local AC repair company for many reasons. There is a lot to consider when looking for a good AC repair company: Are they going to provide a good diagnosis? Will they have fair pricing? Are they going to try to upsell me? Will they fix the problem the first time?
Many of the problems in our industry come from the fact that it’s a seasonal business. In the south, there is a lot of work in the summer and little work in the winter; up north, it’s vice versa. Many companies will price gouge during the busy months to cover for miss management of the slower months. More likely than not that you will come across an air conditioning company that does this because the whole industry operates off this model.
What to watch out for
- You will undoubtedly encounter these companies if you use Home Advisor, Angie’s List, or a Google ad to find an AC repair company. An AC repair company will pay one of these advertising companies more than $150 just to show up at your doorstep. Then the AC repair company has to upsell you on things you may not need in order to make money from the service call. This is why most homeowners always fill pressed into the recommended repairs by the service tech. It’s best to avoid ads and paid-for directories if you are looking for a fair AC repair.
- Another issue a seasonal company runs into is staffing. They need a lot of workers in the summer but few in the winter. Many AC repair companies solve this is by paying their air conditioner techs commission for their work and sales rather than hourly wages or salary. You can already see the problems this is going to create. If the service tech wants to make a living working for such AC companies, they have to sell you something because there are no commissions to be made on a $120 service call. They need to sell you a $1000 AC repair or pressure you into replacing your entire air conditioner. If it is clear that a tech is trying to sell or pressure you into a repair, you might not be getting a fair price or good advice.
Best practices to find the right company
- Start with Google to find a good air conditioning company. Do a quick search for something like “AC repair your city name.” I would use “AC repair San Antonio” for my home. From there, scroll past the ads and go down the company list, one by one, reading their reviews. Look for reviews where people say, “the first company that came out was trying to charge me an arm and a leg, so I call XYZ company, and they saved me a ton of money.” If you can find a few reviews like this, you’re probably looking at a good company.
- Pretty much everyone you know has air conditioning in their homes, and chances are they’ve had a problem in the past. Ask your friends and family in your local area and see if they had a good experience with any air conditioner repair companies in particular.
- Look for a transparent company like ours. Atlas AC Repair does air conditioning repair and replacement for San Antonio and Austin, Texas. Our prices are online for anyone to see, yep, including our competitors. This open-book business model lets our customers know our rates, see that we charge an honest price, and be aware of any tech trying to sell them something.
About Atlas AC Repair
Atlas AC Repair is an air conditioning and heating company that does AC installation and AC repair in Austin and San Antonio, Texas. One of the big reasons our customers love us is because we keep things simple. We’ll never twist your arm to get a sale. We believe in providing the highest quality of AC repairs without hassling our customers. We don’t have salespeople on our staff, and all our techs are on salary, so there is no incentive to sell you something. We believe in enabling every homeowner to make the best, informed decision regarding AC repairs and replacements.