How to Determine the Cost of Air Conditioning Repair

Whether you have a home warranty that covers air conditioning repair or not, there are several factors that determine the cost of repairs. From a simple O-ring that needs to be replaced to a compressor with an internal leak, repair costs can quickly add up.

The best way to save money on AC repair is to get preventive maintenance services in the spring and fall.

1. Low refrigerant

Low refrigerant is one of the most common air conditioning repair issues that can plague homeowners. It’s also one of the most serious problems that could happen to an AC unit if it isn’t repaired right away. Refrigerants are a chemical blend that is used in the refrigeration cycle of an air conditioner to absorb heat from the air and provide cooling.

Refrigerants are typically found in a liquid or gaseous state. The liquid version is known as Freon while the gaseous version is called R-22. When there is a leak in an air conditioning system, the refrigerant can easily escape and leave your home without the proper cooling you need.

Leaking refrigerant is often the result of faulty or damaged components such as the compressor or the evaporator coil. It’s important to note that there are a variety of ways to check your air conditioner for refrigerant leaks, including using a thermometer, soap bubbles or observing oil residue.

A hissing sound is another common sign of low refrigerant in an AC unit. This noise is caused when the liquid Freon in the system is escaping and coming into contact with air, which causes it to expand and turn into a gas.

If the refrigerant is leaking, it will need to be recharged or replaced by an HVAC technician who has Section 608 technician certification from the EPA. These professionals will use special procedures to handle the ozone-depleting chemicals in an efficient way so that your AC works properly.

Other signs of low refrigerant include ice on the evaporator coil and a higher than normal electricity bill. These symptoms are an indication that your air conditioner is working harder than it should, which can lead to damage to the compressor.

2. Dirty or clogged ductwork

Many homeowners assume that their heating or cooling problems are caused by faulty furnaces or air conditioners. However, the problem may actually be due to dirty or clogged ductwork. Here are a few signs that your home’s air ducts might need to be cleaned:

The first sign is the most obvious: noticeably less cold or hot air than usual. While a little variation in temperature between rooms on the same level of your house is normal, major differences could indicate that your air ducts are clogged.

A sluggish feeling when you turn on your heating or AC is another obvious sign that it’s time for a clean out. Clogged ducts can make your system work harder than it should, so you’ll feel the effects of this extra strain on your unit.

You can check your ductwork for physical obstructions by turning on your heating or AC and walking by each vent to see if air is blowing out of it. If there’s furniture obstructing the vent, you should move or remove it to allow the air flow. Also, be sure to check that the vent covers aren’t dusty.

You might also be able to spot problems inside the ductwork by looking for signs of pests such as rodent droppings and debris that has been chewed off from the interior. If you notice these problems, it’s important to contact a professional immediately as this is a serious health concern. These pests can contaminate your air with their feces, which can cause everything from imperfect airflow to significant breathing difficulties. Port St Lucie Air Conditioning Repair will be able to inspect and repair the ducts and ensure they are functioning properly.

3. Clogged air filters

Like any engine — whether it's a lawnmower motor, your car or that turbocharged monster in your sporty coupe — your AC unit needs clean air to breathe. With each intake stroke, the cylinders inhale air, so that compression or spark can combine fuel with oxygen to make a tiny, controlled explosion. On the exhaust stroke, the cylinders exhale nitrogen, water vapor and carbon dioxide.

If your filter is dirty, the dust, dirt, pollen, dander, germs and other debris it can no longer filter out will get recirculated through your house, making breathing more difficult for anyone with allergies or respiratory conditions. Over time, it can also lead to mold in your ductwork and other internal system components.

Clogged filters restrict air flow and force your HVAC system to work harder than it should to get your home to a comfortable temperature. That extra strain will cause your system to use more energy, which in turn will drive up your utility bills. Worse still, the reduced airflow could overheat your heat exchanger or trip its electronic "limit switch" safety protection, forcing the system to shut off and leaving your home without heating or cooling.

Changing your air filter at least once a month can keep it from getting clogged and help reduce stress on your system, save you money on bills, prevent expensive repairs and improve indoor air quality. If you're unsure what size or brand of air filter your system requires, check with the manufacturer for recommendations or chat with a knowledgeable expert.

4. Damaged or rusted parts

Aside from being unsightly, a rusty AC unit can also be dangerous. Rust ruins metal and can damage your air conditioning unit and shorten its lifespan. While modern air conditioners are more durable than older units, they still require regular maintenance to function at their best. Moisture is the most common cause of rust in air conditioning components, and it can spread quickly throughout an entire system. The most vulnerable parts include ductwork, air filters, drain pans, fan blades and the compressor. A rusty air conditioner will take longer to heat and cool your home and increase your electricity bills. If left untreated, it can also corrode the other components of your air conditioner and lead to premature failure.

A rusty air conditioner can also leak refrigerant, a major problem. This can cause the compressor to overheat, and it may even start to burn out. While you can sometimes restore a leaking AC with the right tools and some good luck, it’s often better to replace the entire unit.

If you notice that the outside of your air conditioner has a light layer of rust, don’t panic. While it’s not ideal, you can usually remove this rust without having to call in an air conditioning repair technician. First, turn off the power to your air conditioner and then use a nylon brush and sandpaper to scrape away the rust. After that, you can apply a coat of rust-inhibiting primer and paint to protect it from future damage.

If the rust is severe, however, you may want to contact an AC repair specialist. A professional can also inspect the rest of your air conditioner and fix any problems that may be causing it to rust.

5. Leaking coolant

As the name suggests, coolant is what makes your air conditioner able to cool your home. If the coolant level is too low or there is a leak, your AC will not work. To determine the problem, a professional will take several quick steps to test the AC system.

First, they will ensure the thermostat is working and that it has power. They will also check the breakers for the circuits supplying power to the unit and that the fuses are in good shape.

Then they will check the compressor and evaporator coils to see if there is a buildup of dirt, dust or debris. If so, they will use a shop vac to suck away the debris and clean the coils. They will also check the linesets, which are the copper tubes that carry the coolant from the condenser to the evaporator. These are particularly prone to corrosion and will need to be replaced if they leak.

Finally, the professional will look for a freon leak. Since this is a toxic chemical, it is important to call a pro immediately when there is a leak. The professional may use one of several quick methods to locate the leak, such as looking for a spot of oil around the leak or spraying a little soapy water on the suspected area.

It is important not to try to handle or replace any coolant on your own, as this can lead to severe damage and even death. Inhaling the gaseous form of the refrigerant can cause a number of health problems, such as poor concentration, shortness of breath or skin rashes. In extreme cases, exposure to the coolant can even cause asphyxiation or brain damage.

Whether you have a home warranty that covers air conditioning repair or not, there are several factors that determine the cost of repairs. From a simple O-ring that needs to be replaced to a compressor with an internal leak, repair costs can quickly add up. The best way to save money on AC repair is…