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How Do I Know I'm Paying Too Much for Air Conditioning Repair?

How Do I Know I’m Paying Too Much for Air Conditioning Repair?

How Do I Know I'm Paying Too Much for Air Conditioning Repair?

You’re probably aware of how expensive air conditioning repair can be, but how much is too much? According to Forbes, an AC repair may cost up to $3,300 (the average is $400). The exact price depends on the type of repair, labor, and how long the job takes. Each HVAC company sets its rates, while the cost of parts and materials varies by location. Therefore, it can be difficult to know if you’re paying too much, but it is not impossible. 

We’ll look at how to determine if an air conditioning repair cost is reasonable, or if you should consider replacing the unit instead.

Compare HVAC Contractors’ Labor Charges

An experienced contractor may charge from $75 to $175 per hour on top of the cost of parts and materials. While small repairs may take less than an hour, more complex ones can take six hours or more, possibly doubling the repair cost. However, some companies and technicians charge a flat rate. It’s also not uncommon to receive a service fee to diagnose the issue, which can range from $90 to $200. 

When researching HVAC companies, ask about all charges. Don’t only look at the amount or pick the lowest bidder, but also what’s included. Therefore, you can find a contractor that offers the most comprehensive service at the fairest rate.

You’re Spending More on Repairs Than AC Replacement

Most industry professionals agree spending more than half the price of a new unit on repairs is too much. Some repairs can cost more than purchasing a new AC! You should also anticipate future repair needs, as you’ll have to pay for parts, materials, and labor each time. If you have an older AC that requires a new coil or compressor, chances are more repairs will be needed within a few months

Multiply the Unit’s Age by the Repair Cost

An easy formula to weigh the cost benefits of repair vs. replacement is to multiply the unit’s age by the repair tech’s estimate. If the number you get exceeds $5,000, replacement is a better option. This can apply to one repair or if your AC needs to be serviced repeatedly. 

For example, if you have a 10-year-old air conditioner that needs $1,000 in repairs, multiplying these values equals $8,000. That exceeds the $5,000 limit when applying this rule. But if the unit is under five years old, performing well, and needs only an occasional repair, it should be fixed.

The AC Is Showing Signs It’s Near the End of Its Life 

You can also determine if an air conditioning repair may be too much by recognizing the following signs:

  • Your energy bills are higher than normal, aside from seasonal variations.
  • The system isn’t performing as expected even with regular maintenance.
  • Your current unit is a fire or electrical hazard.
  • Your old AC still uses R-22 Freon, which has been banned.
  • Your air conditioner is 15 to 20 years old.

Know What Fixing Your Type of AC Normally Costs

Repair costs differ depending on the type of unit. For example, repairing a central AC unit usually costs less than fixing a heat pump or ductless mini-split. Central air conditioners average $375 to repair, based on 2024 data from Forbes. Meanwhile, heat pumps average $550, but an extensive repair can range up to $1,950. Repairing a ductless mini-split averages $850.

Consider the Price of Parts and Type of Repair

Air conditioning repairs vary greatly in cost depending on the part or type of repair you need. An air filter can cost as little as $5 while unclogging a drain can cost just $100. However, fixing a refrigerant leak can cost from several hundred dollars to over $1,500. Replacing a condenser coil, evaporator coil, or condenser can be expensive. Minor fixes such as replacing a capacitor, fan motor, or thermostat generally don’t cost as much.

How Simple or Complex Is the Problem?

The complexity of the issue is one way to evaluate its cost. You could spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars more to hire a professional. However, most AC fixes are more complicated than the average person can handle. Plus, a DIY repair risks causing more damage and voiding the warranty. Carefully assess the problem before proceeding. If the unit is out of warranty, fixing it requires just simple household tools, and if the part needed is small and accessible, you can weigh the cost of DIY repair vs. professional service.

*We recommend avoiding DIY AC repair for anything other than replacing a filter, washing a vent cover, or cleaning the outside of the unit.

Why Is Refrigerant So Expensive?

If your system still has older R-22 Freon, scarce supplies continue to drive up costs, making some repairs prohibitively expensive. Refrigerant is contained in a closed system, so the unit won’t need more unless there’s a leak. Therefore, adding new refrigerant usually requires repairing or replacing a coil. 

Is Air Conditioning Repair Worth It?

If your AC is just a few years old and still under warranty, it’s probably worth fixing. But you’ll likely pay too much if the warranty has expired and the system is over 15 years old. Newer models function more efficiently anyway. Investing in a modern digital system with variable speed and advanced communication technologies helps benefit from increased efficiency and functionality. You can also benefit from a smart thermostat, which can be controlled remotely and use sensors to react to the environment.

Contact Monarch Home Services

Homeowners trust Monarch Home Services for high-quality air conditioning services in Fresno, Bakersfield, and Visalia. Your safety and comfort are our top priorities. Our NATE- and EPA-certified technicians are available 24/7 and can service any model, no matter what type of repair you need. They provide free quotes and accurate estimates. Meanwhile, our seasonal coupons and financing options help make air conditioning repair and replacement more affordable. To learn more, contact us online or call (661) 215-6573.

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