Almost every AC system will require at least some repairs over the course of its life. Having your AC repaired is something that can definitely pay off in the long run by improving the energy efficiency of the system so that your electric bills aren’t as high. Repairing the system can also extend its lifespan or at least prevent you from having to replace it sooner, and this is because many issues can put additional strain on the system. Many AC repairs aren’t all that expensive compared to major ones, which aren’t always worth it unless your AC unit is only a few years old and still under warranty. In this guide, we’ll show you the various factors that can affect the cost of AC repairs and also how to determine when it’s better to replace your AC rather than repair it.
How the Type of AC Unit Affects Repair Costs
The type and size of your AC unit are often major determining factors in how much you’ll have to pay to repair it. The larger, more powerful and more complex the unit is, the more it will typically cost to repair it. For instance, repairing a ductless mini-split AC may be more expensive than repairing a central AC system because ductless systems can have more complex electronics inside.
Similarly, two-stage and variable-speed ACs are often more expensive to repair compared to a more basic single-stage system. These units are more complex, which means it will often take a technician more time to diagnose the specific issues and determine what repairs are needed, meaning you’ll have to pay more in labor charges.
The age and condition of your AC unit will also play a role in how much it costs to repair. Older units may be discontinued, which can make it more difficult to find replacement parts and force you to pay more for said parts.
Costs for Different Types of Repairs
The biggest factor in how much it will cost to repair your AC system is what type of repairs the system needs. This is because some repairs take much longer than others and also because some replacement parts are much more expensive. Many repairs are fairly easy and won’t take more than an hour or two, which means you won’t have to pay as much in labor charges. On the other hand, some more complicated repairs can take a full day or even several days or require more than one technician, which will obviously add to the total cost.
Things like replacing the bearings in the AC blower motor inside the home or the AC condenser fan motor in the outdoor unit are usually fairly inexpensive, and the same is often true even if the motor itself needs to be replaced. Repairing electrical issues also tends to be less expensive since often all a technician will need to do is tighten a loose electrical connection or replace a damaged wire.
There are also some repairs that could potentially cost you quite a bit more. For instance, repairing or replacing damaged or poorly designed ductwork can often be quite costly. At the same time, it’s also something that’s necessary as, otherwise, your AC won’t ever work effectively and will use much more energy than it should.
Fixing an AC system that has a refrigerant leak is also one of the more expensive repairs. In this case, the technician will first need to drain and capture all of the refrigerant in the system. They will then need to locate the source of the leak. If one of the copper refrigerant lines is leaking, the technician may be able to repair the damaged section or possibly replace the entire line. A leak in the evaporator coil or condenser coil will usually require the entire coil to be replaced. This can be expensive as not only is it an incredibly complex and time-consuming job, but the replacement coil itself will also cost quite a bit.
Repairing a refrigerant leak can be especially costly if you have an old unit that still uses Freon. The manufacture and import of Freon is banned in the US, which means there is a very limited supply, resulting in the cost of Freon skyrocketing. For this reason, you’ll often be better off replacing your unit instead of repairing the leak and recharging it with more Freon.
Repairing the AC compressor is also one of the most time-consuming and expensive tasks. Due to the high cost, this is another situation where you’ll sometimes be better off opting for AC replacement instead. If the compressor motor is burnt out and has to be replaced, it will often cost you nearly as much to have a new motor installed as it would to just install a new system.
How to Know Whether AC Repair or Replacement Is the Better Option
Most central AC systems will last for around 15 years or so, and this is something you’ll want to take into account when deciding whether repair or replacement is the better option. If your unit is more than 10 years old, it’s likely nearing the end of its life, so it probably doesn’t make sense to spend a huge amount repairing it since you still may only get a few years more out of it at the most.
Looking at how long you can reasonably expect your AC to last is a great way to determine if the repairs are worth the cost. Let’s say that the unit is 10 years old and originally cost you $3,000. If you break the total original cost down per year, the unit would cost $200 a year or $1,000 over the five years of life it may have left. If the cost to repair it is only a few hundred dollars, then you should probably just have it repaired. However, if the repair costs are close to $1,000 or more, replacement is almost certainly your better option.
The energy efficiency of your AC is another factor you should consider. If your AC was installed any time before 2015, its energy efficiency rating may only be as low as 13 SEER, whereas any new unit will be at least 15 SEER. Even if your current unit is still in decent condition, you may not want to spend tons of money on repairing it since a replacement unit can save you lots of money in energy costs over time.
If you need any AC repairs in the Charlotte area, Acosta Heating, Cooling & Electrical is ready to help. Our technicians can repair any make and model of central air conditioner, ductless AC or heat pump, and we work on both residential and commercial HVAC systems. No matter what type of repairs you need, you can be certain we’ll do the job right as we back up all repairs with our “Peace of Mind” satisfaction guarantee. For more information on our AC repair services or to schedule an inspection, give us a call today.