The Cost of AC Repair: Factors to Consider and Budgeting Tips

Learn about HVAC & Home Performance in Houston.

Photo of Cleaning Up Ac Filter

June 26, 2023

AC Maintenance

When you need repairs on your HVAC unit, it’s usually obvious something is wrong. You’ll feel hot and uncomfortable even when your thermostat is set to a cold temperature. Calling for an expert cooling system technician in Houston is your next logical step.

However, with HVAC equipment and services, costs can add up quickly. AC repair cost can vary widely depending on what’s wrong with your AC unit. If your air conditioner is older, an upgraded air conditioning unit may be a smarter way to spend your money.

When you call a professional HVAC technician out for air conditioning repair, they will assess the problem and let you know the cost to repair. Read on to find out more about the average air conditioner repair cost.

Average AC Repair Costs in 2023

On average, HVAC repair costs are around $350 nationwide. Most homeowners will spend anywhere from $250 to $600 on an HVAC repair cost for minor repairs. Prices naturally fluctuate by location as well as severity of the issue. These AC repair costs often include parts, labor, and other materials required to make the repairs.

If your HVAC technician has deemed the problem to be your compressor or evaporator coil, the repair costs can be steep. However, things like thermostat replacement are much less expensive. You may want to check if you have anything covered under your warranty plan.

Which Factors Impact AC Repair Cost Estimates?

Numerous factors will impact your AC repair cost. The graphic below gives you a quick glance of what you can expect, though keep reading to find out more about each in greater detail.

Diagnostics and Troubleshooting  

If you make a call for diagnostics and troubleshooting, you may wind up paying $75 to $180. However, an HVAC professional will usually charge $80 to $100 for an inspection and $150 – $300 for a yearly tune-up. Hence, it’s best to head off AC repairs by staying on top of maintenance which can keep your air conditioning running at peak performance. 

AC Compressor

When the air compressor fails, you’ll have warm air blowing out of your HVAC unit. It may also make loud sounds or vibrate when it starts. Replacing this part costs anywhere from $1,200 to $2,800. You’ll likely wind up having your air conditioning compressor break again if you only fix it. Replacement parts make more sense in this scenario. 

Refrigerant Leak

A refrigerant leak is a very serious matter, one that requires immediate air conditioning repair. It’s also quite costly, ranging from $225 to $1,600 in cost. It may take all day for a professional to repair your air conditioning unit if it has this problem. At the end of the day though, you and your family will be safe from the potential hazard that a refrigerant leak can cause.

Air Handler Replacement

An air handler replacement will run between $2500 and $10000, depending on the size and model. The air handler is that interior portion of your air conditioning unit in your home which circulates the air at the temperature you have selected for your best comfort. 

Condenser Replacement

Problems can arise with your condenser, making replacement of this part a necessity. It will cost between $3,500 and $10,000 for parts and labor, and it really may mean you need AC replacement instead. It’s wise to discuss the situation with your HVAC company to see what the best option will be for your air conditioner.

Air Conditioner Duct Replacement

You may need to replace your duct system in your HVAC unit, a costly AC repair service. It will depend on the size of your home, but no matter what this type of AC repair is a huge undertaking. Larger homes will obviously have much larger repair costs. Pricing ranges anywhere from $2,000 – $10,000 and is based on the amount of ductwork, difficulty of install, type of ducts, and design of the system. Compare HVAC companies to see which one can give you both a fair price and quality work. 

HVAC System Blower Motor

Failed blower motors are replaced.  They are not repaired. As replacing it is your best option, this will cost anywhere from $250 to $800. 

AC Repair for Expansion Valve

If an expansion valve breaks, there is no repair option. An expansion valve will need to be replaced.

AC Unit Circuit Breaker

Your AC unit problems may revolve around the circuit breaker, fuses, or relays. Thankfully, this type of air conditioner repair won’t break the bank. It can cost as little as $100 or up to $400. It’s also something HVAC technicians can fix rather quickly.

AC Unit Thermostat Replacement

If you need to replace your thermostat, it can be as little as $200 though it may cost over $1,000 with parts and labor. Your price will depend on the precise thermostat needed. It is important to know that a failed thermostat needs replacing, as there is no option to repair the existing failed thermostat.

Photo of AC Repairing

AC Capacitor Repair

The AC repair cost for a capacitor is generally from $120 to $475. It can take very little time to make this repair. However, you may need AC capacitor replacement, which can naturally cost much more.

Air Conditioner Evaporator Coil Replacement

Evaporator coils are responsible for absorbing the heat and humidity from the air inside your home. The cost to replace an evaporator coil will generally run from $2,000 -$6,000. Replacing the evaporator coil is a labor intensive HVAC repair that will likely take the entire day, though it will be worth it when your AC unit is blowing cool air again. 

Air Conditioner Circuit Board

Replacing the circuit board in your AC unit will average from $150 to $1200. There is no option to repair a circuit board; it would only be replaced with a new one. However, the  circuit board may be covered by a warranty. 

AC Unit Drain Pan

The drain pan in your air conditioner catches the condensed water while your AC unit is running, then directs this water to your drain line. Sometimes, this drain pan can crack which will cost $200 to $600 to repair.

Other Factors Affecting the Repair Cost of Air Conditioners

Air conditioners have many parts and are incredibly complex. As such, there are many factors that could impact the cost to repair HVAC systems. 

Repair Type

It’s expensive to replace your AC system. Whenever possible, repairs should be your first consideration, unless your HVAC system is nearing the end of its lifespan. The type of repair your unit needs will affect the repair cost. Some of these repairs will only take a few hours while others may take longer.

A bad thermostat can make your AC unit run continuously, meanwhile a failing blower can’t send the air into your ducts to cool your home. Depending on what a licensed HVAC technician finds, you may be paying anywhere from $60 up to thousands of dollars as an average cost. 

Unit Type and Size

The average cost of your air conditioning repairs will also vary depending on your unit type and size. For central air units, the cost to repair can be $250 to $2000. You may additionally need to pay an HVAC inspection cost along with labor costs.

Age and Condition of Your HVAC System

HVAC systems that are older or are in poor condition will be more likely to result in costly repairs. An older air conditioner may have parts that have been discontinued. This means that AC repairs will be more expensive because it’s harder to find replacement parts.

If your air conditioner has not had annual maintenance or is in poor condition, the average HVAC repair cost will likely be higher. HVAC systems that haven’t been well-maintained often have more than one component failure. It may be more prudent to simply get a modern updated cooling system.

How much does it cost to do this? That will depend on many factors, but you will want to discuss with your HVAC company whether or not it’s worth it to make AC repairs or get a new air conditioner. Even with the upfront cost of a new HVAC system, you will save money in the long run by replacing an old unit. 

Photo of Air Conditioner Repair

Brand of Air Conditioners

The brand of your air conditioner may dictate much higher costs for repair. When you replace your unit, you will want to discuss all the costs involved with having this unit in  your home. Less expensive brands will save money on repairs, but these low-cost brands tend to break down much more frequently. The bottom line is that you should consider more than which air conditioner is cheapest when doing a replacement. Look at all the factors to make your decision.

If you bought your home and have discovered that the previous owners didn’t take good care of the air conditioning, you will certainly want to look at HVAC companies in your area to determine which one is qualified to replace it.

You’ll need to remember though that all air conditioners, regardless of brand, will break down at some point. An annual HVAC maintenance plan or an extended parts warranty is a wise idea that can save you money on emergency repairs for AC units. Cover your air conditioning unit and have peace of mind for years to come! 

Unit Accessibility

When it comes to air conditioner repairs, the more accessible your unit is, the less costly the repairs will be. If your outdoor AC unit is freely accessible in your yard, it won’t be as difficult to fix. For anyone that lives in a condo building, the accessibility of the unit is much more challenging.

Older homes may also pose difficulties. They may look unique and beautiful, but installing an air conditioner in a home that was built before air conditioning existed may mean the area is tight or hard to reach. This can impact the time it takes to diagnose and repair, which will almost always mean a higher repair cost for your central air unit.


Labor costs for central air conditioners are one of the biggest factors to affect the overall repair cost. Most companies will charge a basic service call fee which will cover diagnosing the air conditioner. You’ll have the cost of replacement parts once the problem has been uncovered and then the labor fees added on top.

The initial diagnosis will cost between $75 -and $150 dollars.  Reputable companies (including House Pro) use flat race pricing that already includes labor so there is no surprise labor costs with your repair.

Additionally, a service call for emergency repairs may set you back even more. Some companies will charge a higher price for repairs after hours, weekends, or holidays. It’s important to find these things out upfront so you don’t have any surprises. An honest AC company will always tell you about their fees so you can make an informed decision. 

DIY vs Professional AC Repair

While it may be tempting to try to do it yourself, even the handiest person should leave AC repair to the professionals. A clogged air filter is something you can troubleshoot and change yourself. But if you change your air filter and your AC isn’t running or is blowing out warm air, it’s time to get an expert. It could be the evaporator coil or a leak with your refrigerant, and you won’t want to risk making things worse with a DIY job.

The same is true with a system blowing cold air when it should be warm. AC units are incredibly intricate pieces of machinery with many working parts and only an expert can ensure things are done right the first time.

Choosing the right company for this task is important too. You should never leave this up to a handyman. You should only choose a professional air conditioning service that is state licensed and insured. Check referrals from friends and family, and look at the reviews to get a bigger picture about performance.

Call around and speak with different companies. Those that are pleasant on the phone and knowledgeable are likely a great fit for your needs. You should make sure they are professionally certified too, such as having technicians that are certified by North American Technician Excellence (NATE).

Photo of Air Conditioner Cleaning

A company that only specializes in HVAC services is best because they will have the experience and access to parts that will ensure your system is repaired quickly and efficiently.

AC Repair vs. Replace Cost

How much does it cost to replace a complete AC system? You’ll be looking at an average cost between $5000 to $15000. This will depend on the type of system, brand efficiency, and size of the system. System size is based on the heat load of your home, not just the square footage. For example, homes with more windows and that are poorly sealed and insulated will have a larger heat load that may require a larger system. You will want to make sure your contractor is qualified to size the AC for your home correctly or else you can have humidity issues and high electricity bills.

Additionally, the brand and SEER rating will impact the average cost. If you need to install ductwork, your costs will go up considerably, however this will be a wise investment into your home.

Still, you may be wondering how to know when you should repair or replace your unit. Quite simply, multiply the cost of the repair by the age of your system. If the number you get is over $2,000, you should schedule an AC replacement.

Air conditioners in Houston only have an efficient lifespan of 10 years, so if your unit is at that age, it’s a good idea to consider replacing it. Additionally, when you’re making frequent repairs, it just makes more sense to replace it rather than keep fixing it.

Another thing about older units is that they use R-22 freon, as mentioned earlier. This refrigerant is being phased out. The harder it is to find, the more expensive any refrigerant repairs will be. Newer units use a different refrigerant which will cut down on your future costs.

You’ll see lower utility bills too when you make the switch to a newer system. Expect to pay more upfront to replace your air conditioner, but know that this investment in your home will start saving you more money. 

Whether you need maintenance, replacement, or top AC professionals in Houston, Texas, House Pro is the company you can count on for all your AC needs. Call today to get a fair estimate about AC repair cost or AC replacement and enjoy cool air in your home!