How much does it cost to hire an air conditioner maintenance service?
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Air Conditioner Maintenance Cost Guide
Updated: August 18, 2022
Being caught in the middle of the summer without air conditioning is extremely uncomfortable if you live in an area where it gets hot. In addition, repairing an AC can be expensive if you have not performed the required maintenance regularly. Annual air conditioner maintenance keeps your system running better and helps it last longer.
The national average cost for yearly AC maintenance is $100 to $200, with most homeowners paying $150 for annual cleaning and tune-up of a central air system. This project’s low cost is $65 for a portable AC unit service check. The high cost is $1,000 for an extensive cleaning of dirty and poorly maintained ductwork in a large home.
Air Conditioning Maintenance Cost
|AC Maintenance Price|
|National average cost||$150|
AC Unit Maintenance Cost by Type
The AC unit type influences how much you will pay to have it serviced. You can pay anywhere between $65 and $400 for maintenance, depending on the type of system. The price varies because each type of unit has its own specific parts required for functioning. Additionally, different units require different types of cleaning and maintenance and refrigerant levels. Below are the costs per year you can expect to encounter for each type of unit, considering some may need just a single visit but others two.
|Type of Unit||Maintenance Cost per Year|
|Portable AC||$65 - $85|
|Window AC||$65 - $150|
|Central Air||$85 - $200|
|Variable Capacity||$85 - $200|
|Packaged Unit||$90 - $200|
|Swamp Cooler||$100 - $175|
|Geothermal||$175 - $350|
|Mini Split||$200 - $400|
Portable Air Conditioner
A portable AC can be moved from room to room or mounted on the wall. The maintenance cost is $65 to $85. A portable AC is similar to a window unit and has some of the same problems. When it comes to maintenance, your technician will change your filter, drain the water, clean the exterior and check for any parts that may need repair. Annual maintenance is sufficient for most portable units.
Window AC Maintenance
Window AC systems are fairly uncomplicated because of their small size and easy access and only require an annual tune-up at the cost of $65 to $150. During your maintenance visit, the technician will inspect and clean the evaporator coils that likely have built up dust throughout the year. They will clean or replace the filter and check the coil fins, making sure they are clean and straight.
Central Air Maintenance
It costs about $85 to $200 to service a central air system. Maintenance of your central air system should be done once a year to keep it operating efficiently and reduce your risk of a breakdown. Maintenance involves a thorough inspection of parts, such as belts, bearings, and the motor. Your technician will clean or replace your filter. During the process, they clean the dirt and debris off of all the components. Once this is complete, they check the refrigerant and adjust the levels, if necessary. During the inspection of your outdoor unit, they will remove any debris from your fins and straighten any that may have become bent.
Variable Capacity Maintenance
Homeowners spend $85 to $200 on maintenance for variable-capacity air conditioners. Variable-capacity systems are relatively new central air systems that are more efficient and last longer. They require the same basic maintenance procedures as a central system and should be checked yearly to ensure they operate smoothly.
HVAC Package Unit
Packaged HVAC Units cost a little more to maintain than an AC unit on its own, running between $90 and $200. These systems have both the heating system and AC system in one unit. Your technician will perform the same tasks as they would for a central AC unit. But they will check the components of the heating system since they are one unit. A yearly visit may not suffice for these advanced units, and you may want to check it twice per year. If you opt for two visits, you need to pay closer to the top end of the price range.
Swamp Cooler Maintenance
Maintenance on a swamp cooler runs between $100 and $175 and should be done annually. These units are not meant for humid, hot environments. They require a cracked window and a steady supply of water. The maintenance on these units is minimal compared to others but often includes pad replacement in the cost, leading to an overall higher price. In addition to pad replacement, your technician will empty, clean, and inspect the drain pan.
Geothermal systems can be more costly than others to install, repair, and maintain. On average, maintenance costs run between $175 and $350. These systems usually go long without needing repairs, but having annual maintenance ensures the system operates at peak efficiency. Maintenance involves filter changes, inspection, cleaning, and lubrication.
Mini Split Maintenance
Maintenance costs of mini-split systems, also known as ductless systems, can be more expensive, running between $200 and $400 per year. If you opt for just one check, the price will be closer to the lower end of the range, while two checks a year will be towards the higher end of the range. Mini-split systems operate without ducts, eliminating duct problems and the need to inspect them. However, they have separate indoor units that must be checked and maintained, adding to the costs compared to other types. During a visit, a repairman will inspect and clean the exterior unit, change filters, and apply a fungistat or bacteriostat to prevent the growth of bacteria in the system.
Average Cost for AC Maintenance by Task
Some tasks could be added to your AC service. These add-ons range from $65 for a basic leveling service to $1,000 in air conditioner cleaning service costs for ducts. These additional tasks may be recommended after the inspection portion of your AC maintenance and are likely necessary to improve function and prevent problems. Below are some of the most common add-ons and their costs.
|Level||$65 - $250|
|Air Filter Replacement||$75 - $200|
|Drain Line Cleaning||$75 - $200|
|Clean Evaporator or Condenser Coil||$100 - $400|
|Thermostat Replacement||$100 - $600|
|Refrigerant Recharge||$200 - $500|
|Duct Cleaning||$350 - $1,000|
Level an AC Unit
The cost to level an AC unit ranges from $65 to $250. Ensure your AC unit is level because if it is only slightly off-balance, the motor may get damaged, and the excess stress on the unit causes it to operate at higher speeds and waste energy. A level unit works much more efficiently. A professional can inspect the pad or base to ensure it is straight during a maintenance check and make adjustments to level it.
AC Filter Replacement
Replacing a filter costs from $75 to $200. Home AC filter replacement is by far the most crucial step to maintain the integrity of your system and provide a long life. Clogged filters can lead to poor airflow, which can damage parts and lead to breakdowns. Homeowners are encouraged to change their filters every month. Your technician will check and replace your filter if necessary as part of their routine maintenance visit. MERV rates the amount of dust and particles allowed through the filter. Choose a filter with a MERV rating of at least 11 to 16 for your home. Lower MERV ratings result in lowered energy efficiency and may not provide the allergy protection necessary for all members of your household.
Clean Condensate Line
Your technician may inform you that you need your condensate line cleaned, which costs between $75 and $200. The air conditioner cleaning cost depends on the duct size and condition. As dirt, allergens, and debris circulate through the evaporator coils, they can become clogged by moisture and buildup. Eventually, this debris travels through the condensate line, where it inhibits the flow of water leaving the system and eventually creates a clog. A clogged line inhibits function and results in rust in the system.
AC Evaporator and Coil Cleaning
The price of AC condenser or evaporator coil cleaning is $100 to $400. The evaporator coil is located in the unit inside the home. Its job is to cool the heat from the indoor air. The second coil is the condenser coil, which is inside the outdoor unit. The condenser coil moves energy in and out of the home. Both these coils are vital to the operation and efficiency of your system. When they become clogged with dirt or debris, it lowers the output of the system or even causes it to break down. Some HVAC companies include this service during their maintenance visit without additional charge. You should inquire with your HVAC company to determine their policy.
AC Thermostat Replacement
Replacing a thermostat runs between $100 and $600. There are many AC thermostats, from basic manual models to more advanced programmable electronic models and smart thermostats ranging from $200 to $500 with various smart features like voice control and Wi-Fi connectivity. Thermostat replacement can be a common occurrence both during maintenance of an AC unit or the repair process. Thermostats can break, which can fail to signal the system properly, causing it not to respond when needed.
Home AC Recharge
A home AC recharge costs $200 to $500, including checking the freon level in the home AC. Freon is the coolant in your air conditioner. It is normally a lifetime supply unless leaks or repairs allow the freon to leave the unit. To recharge the freon, the contractor first checks the temperature with a pressure gauge. Once it is determined you need more freon, a tank of freon is hooked up to your system’s pressure ports and fills the system with the freon needed.
A licensed contractor must perform this procedure because laws are in place to protect the environment. After 2020, no freon will be produced as it is harmful to the environment. Newer systems have already made the switch to a new product called Puron. Older systems before 2010 will be replenished with recycled freon and eventually phased out. Most homeowners cannot obtain freon legally because you need a professional certification to do so.
AC Duct Cleaning
Duct cleaning costs range from $350 to $1,000. Ducts are cleaned by vacuuming out all the dust and debris from the ducts located in the house. The buildup can cause allergies and make your system less energy-efficient. In addition, your AC will need to work harder, and more repairs will be needed. You should have your ducts cleaned every three to five years or more often if someone in your home suffers from severe allergies.
AC Maintenance Plan Cost by Frequency
When it comes to AC maintenance, you can choose between one-off visits or annual contracts. With a one-off visit, a technician visits your home once for basic repairs. With contracts, you have an arrangement with a specific technician or company to visit your home a set number of times each year (between one and four times) for checks and tune-ups. One-off visits cost between $65 and $200 each and are useful for small AC units, like portable and window ACs. Contracts offer better value for larger units, with prices varying from $100 to $350, based on the visit frequency in the contract.
|Frequency||Cost per Contract|
|Once||$100 - $200|
|Twice||$150 - $300|
|Quarterly||$200 - $350|
AC Annual Maintenance
AC yearly maintenance cost runs between $100 and $200 per year. These plans are sufficient if your system is not too old and has not had many repair issues. It’s recommended to opt for annual contracts for central air and variable capacity units. An annual visit includes all items on the tune-up list and helps keep your system running as efficiently as possible. Since these plans are only once per year, they will likely include both the maintenance of your AC unit and heater.
AC Semi-Annual Maintenance
AC semi-annual maintenance runs between $150 and $300 per year and includes a visit in the fall and spring. Aside from the normal inspection, cleaning, and filter replacement, these visits often include a refrigerant check and replacement at each one, if necessary. It will also include a cleaning of the outdoor unit and repair of exterior unit fins, if necessary. This option is great for units still under warranty as it can help you catch repairs while in the warranty period. It is also recommended for some of the more complex and larger units, like split systems and packaged HVAC units.
AC Quarterly Maintenance Plan
A quarterly maintenance plan costs between $200 and $350 per year and provides 4 visits throughout the year. Visits are broken into seasons. Each visit costs less than other plans as the major maintenance projects will only be done once or twice a year. Coil repair and straightening will likely be done in the spring, and lubrication of the parts will likely be done in the fall. Every visit will include a thorough inspection, cleaning, and filter replacement, and one or two other maintenance tasks that should be done throughout the year. This plan is a good option for those with older central air and packaged HVAC systems that are more likely to have efficiency problems.
AC Service Cost
Servicing an AC unit can become a lengthy and complicated process. Unless you have extensive knowledge about the operation and repair of an AC unit, it is probably best to hire a professional. It can take anywhere from an hour to several hours to service the unit, depending on the amount of dirt buildup, unit size, and how easily accessible it is. In addition, if the system requires any repairs, this adds to the time spent on the service call. Routine maintenance is usually done at a flat rate of $75 to $300, but some workers charge a standard hourly AC service call cost of $65 to $100. This cost includes the AC diagnostic cost. If the call turns into a repair situation, expect to pay $65 to $150 for the AC technician’s hourly rate plus parts.
Another consideration is an extended maintenance plan. Suppose your system is out of warranty, an HVAC unit, or over ten years old. In that case, you may want to purchase a plan that includes priority service, any home AC diagnostic costs, discounted services and cleanings, refrigerant recharges, winter checks (off-season discount), inspections, and tune-ups. An extended service contract costs $175 to $450 annually. The cost depends on the type and length of the contract. If you are concerned that your system may require extensive repairs, a maintenance plan is a wise choice.
Emergency AC Maintenance Cost
Emergency calls add $100 to $200 to your AC system maintenance. Calls are deemed emergency if a technician has to come out aside from normal business hours, on the weekends, evenings, or holidays, or if you require same-day or next-day service during a busy time. While most emergency AC repairs can wait until normal business hours, certain repairs warrant emergency attention, such as refrigerant leaks or problems with the motor. For homeowners in areas with high temperatures, sometimes discomfort can be a motivating factor for an emergency AC maintenance call. No matter the problem, it is best to shut your system off and wait for your technician to arrive to avoid more severe or dangerous problems.
AC Inspection Cost
Expect to pay between $100 and $200 to inspect an AC unit, which is significantly less than the $250 to $400 average cost of a full HVAC inspection. It is recommended to inspect your AC unit at least yearly, even if you are not having problems. It is best to inspect the system in the spring before the AC starts being used regularly. This helps keep the unit functioning as efficiently as possible. If you have a regular maintenance agreement, the inspection cost will usually be covered in the plan.
Besides regular inspections, you may need to have your system inspected if you feel that the output is less or notice your energy bills are higher than expected. It is also a good idea to have a unit inspected when deciding whether or not to purchase a home to make sure there are no surprises when you move in.
During the inspection, your technician thoroughly examines all of the system components to make sure they are clean and working properly. They will also check for any possible hazards and ensure all of the safety features are functioning properly. Finally, they will check the components connected to the unit, such as the flues, vents, and ducts, to see if they are built up with dirt and debris. After the inspection is complete, they will make recommendations for cleanings and needed repairs.
What Does an AC Tune-Up Include?
An AC tune-up is a useful service offered by many AC repair companies. It involves a range of services, such as cleaning the coils, verifying the thermostat, and ensuring the AC is running smoothly and not wasting energy or suffering safety issues. The details of this service vary by provider and may include some or all of the following services:
- Clean or replace the air filter (if the unit has one).
- Check the airflow of the evaporator coil and use a special cleaning agent to clean the coils.
- Flush the condensate lines to combat mold and mildew.
- Inspect and test all electrical wiring connections, check the safety and appropriate rating, and test capacitors, valves, and fan blades.
- Check the blower motor to ensure amps and voltage are working correctly.
- Clean and test all duct work and check refrigerant level.
- Test and calibrate the thermostat. Measure temperatures coming from all returns.
- Lubricate all moving parts. Check all bearings for wear and tear.
- Inspect the caulk on a window unit.
- Inspect and repair the electrical parts. Measure amp and voltage draw on the condenser.
- Look for worn or loose motor belts or pulleys and repair where appropriate.
- Remove any debris in or around the compressor, condenser, and fan. Brush any bent coil fins back into shape.
- Check airflow of blades and blower wheel.
How Often Should You Get Your AC Serviced?
You should have your AC unit serviced at least once a year. However, HVAC technicians may steer you to bi-annual maintenance in some areas. If you live in hotter climates, your system will likely get much more use, leading to earlier wear and tear. Having service twice a year helps you stay on top of minor repairs before they turn into major problems. Bi-annual service can catch any possible defects within the warranty period.
Technicians also recommend that older units have bi-annual service to help them operate as efficiently as possible and reduce the risk of breakdown.
Many factors influence your AC maintenance cost, including the unit age, size, and condition. Here are some of the most important factors to consider:
- Size and efficiency. The larger your system, the more maintenance will cost. However, if your efficiency is higher, utility costs should be lower, which balances out the maintenance cost.
- How old the unit is. The older the unit, the higher the chances you will need repairs and replacement parts.
- Repairs needed. The number of repairs can increase the cost of a simple tune-up substantially. For example, in a central air unit, unclogging a condenser line costs $100 to $200, while a new condenser is $550 to $1,200.
- Time of year you have the work done. During the hotter months, it is more expensive to get AC maintenance done. You may wait longer because AC companies are busy with repairs. Expect to pay $90 to $140. Winter tune-ups cost $75 to $90.
- Location. If you live in a colder state, you may have to pay higher rates due to the lack of repair companies. AC companies and maintenance are more common in hotter states, keeping the prices more competitive and lower than in colder areas.
- Regular maintenance. If you have been doing regular, preventative maintenance, such as changing/cleaning your filter, keeping debris away from the outside unit, and vacuuming out your vents, you are less likely to need repairs.
- Accessibility. If your equipment is not easily accessible, the rate may be higher. If the technician has to cut down overgrown foliage or move things around to get to the unit, you could be charged a prep fee for the time it takes ($60 to $75 an hour).
Air Conditioning Preventative Maintenance Cost
General maintenance keeps your system clean and functioning properly. In between service calls, change out or clean the filter monthly and keep the area around the condenser free of debris, plants, trees, and shrubs. A programmable thermostat ($105 to $400) monitors the temperature and keeps the system from running unnecessarily. If you are a little mechanically inclined, you can clean the coils and fins on the outside unit and the vents inside the house regularly.
There are many parts in the AC, but the most important part is cleaning or changing the AC filter regularly. It is suggested that you do this monthly or quarterly, depending on the amount of dirt and/or allergens in the air. Other things that prevent excessive dirt and debris are to keep trees and shrubs away from the outside unit, clean the vents and intake regularly, and flush with a bleach solution. This regular maintenance avoids straining your system.
AC Maintenance Repair Tasks Cost
When you schedule your air conditioner tune-up, be prepared for additional costs, particularly if you have not had it serviced in a long time or if the system is older. The maintenance worker may uncover serious issues when doing AC compressor maintenance and cleaning, such as refrigerant leaks or cracked ductwork that needs to be replaced. These repair costs can add a lot to your bill, and the table below provides examples of common urgent repairs that may need to be done.
|Unclog Condenser Line||$100 - $200|
|AC Drain Pan Replacement||$150 - $600|
|New Capacitor||$200 - $600|
|New Circuit Board||$200 - $650|
|Ductwork Repair||$200 - $800|
|Pad Replacement||$200 - $1,000|
|Replace a Fan Motor||$400 - $800|
|Repair a Refrigerant Leak||$400 - $1,500|
|Replace a Condenser||$550 - $1,200|
|New Evaporator Coil||$600 - $3,000|
|Condenser Coils Replacement||$750 - $3,000|
|Compressor Replacement||$1,000 - $2,500|
Benefits of AC Maintenance
There are many benefits to having your AC unit regularly serviced. For newer units, it helps you catch potential problems while they are still covered under the warranty period. For older units, it keeps them functioning as long as possible. But no matter the age of your system, regular maintenance helps you keep your system running as efficiently as possible, save you on energy bills, and help you catch problems while they are still minor.
How to Save Money on Your Air Conditioning Bill
Everybody likes to save money. Saving on your electric bill can be accomplished by simply changing some habits. Open the windows on cooler days and keep drapes and blinds closed to keep the heat or cold out when appropriate. The closer your indoor temperature is to the outdoor temperature, the less your system will have to run.
Use auto modes with a programmable thermostat to ensure your system only runs as needed. Programmable thermostats keep the air from running when you are not at home and kick on about an hour before your arrival. Many AC systems include an ‘eco’ mode. This setting allows your compressor to increase the fan speed while choosing a temperature that is two degrees higher than the thermostat setting. The room will still feel just as cool, but your energy bill will go down.
Another way to save energy is to circulate the air by keeping your fans running. This is true even during the winter. Ceiling fans have a setting for winter circulation.
You can reduce the overall heat in your home. Using energy-saving light bulbs and avoiding using the oven on hot days, you can reduce the amount of energy used to cool your home. The heat from a clothes dryer makes the house hotter. Make use of the great outdoors and hang your clothes outside.
Inverter vs Non-Inverter AC Maintenance Cost
The cost for maintenance on an inverter AC unit is between $150 and $250. A non-inverter unit runs around $125 to $225. These units are more expensive than traditional central units to maintain because they require more cleaning, and the parts are a little more difficult to reach. The price is higher for inverter units due to the more complicated compressor, which takes longer to inspect and clean.
The primary difference between these and traditional systems is that your traditional system will run your blower at a fixed speed and be controlled by an on and off switch that your thermostat can trigger. Inverter and non-inverter units have the power going constantly based on the demand for cool air. A key benefit of these systems is their efficiency, and they work well in small spaces.
Both types of systems have similar maintenance tasks. You can expect your technician to change the air and bacteria filters, clean the cooling fins and coils, apply an antifungal spray, and flush the condensate lines.
|Type||Average Maintenance Cost (Labor Included)|
|Non-Inverter||$125 - $225|
|Inverter||$150 - $250|
Enhancement and Improvement Costs
Exposed Duct Insulation
Insulating your ducts helps your unit run more efficiently because it keeps the heat out and the cool in. Duct armor is a rubberized liner that goes inside of the duct via spraying. The cost is high at $2,000 to $10,000.
Additional Considerations and Costs
- Prep-work. Before having AC maintenance done, clear out all the items around the AC unit. Also, make sure all vents are accessible. If the outside unit is hidden by shrubs or a fenced area, make sure these items are out of the way or trimmed back.
- Permits. Permits or licenses are not necessary for maintenance or replacement parts, but they are required for a replacement unit, such as the outside or inside unit. Regulations vary from state to state, but your contractor should be familiar with the laws in your area.
- Choose the right professional. Look for a contractor who is trained and experienced. Choose someone who has an EPA 608 certification, which is required by the EPA. Excellence and NATE Certifications are not required, but a highly qualified technician will have them.
- DIY. DIY may be cheaper, but you will be left with the mess and clean-up. In addition, you will not have a warranty. If you do the tune-up yourself and need repairs, you will need to hire a professional anyway.
- Warranty. If your AC still has a warranty, some repairs may be covered. A typical air conditioner warranty runs for 5 years, and you may have the opportunity to increase it to 10 years. If you have a warranty, parts and labor are often covered.
- Savings tip. Opt to have multiple services done in one visit to avoid trip charges from subsequent visits. Research parts that may require upgrading soon and have those replaced before necessary to make the most use of a service charge.
- Replacing your AC. If your AC is repeatedly damaged, requires constant repairs, or is very old, you may find better value in replacing the system than spending on maintenance and repairs. Replacement costs range from $4,000 to $12,000.
- Discount. Many repair companies offer discounts on AC maintenance services for new customers or during the off-season, so ask about this and compare rates before ordering maintenance.
- Will an AC fan run if the compressor is bad?
Yes, the fan will run if the compressor is bad. However, if the AC fan is working, there may be another problem unrelated to the compressor. This could include a faulty thermostat, coils, or filter that needs to be cleaned, a capacitor or relay switch that needs replacing, or other issues.
- How do you know if your central air needs freon?
Signs you need freon include ice forming on the outside unit, the unit is not cooling the house, any hissing sounds coming from the unit, or warm air coming out of the vents.
- Which air filter is best?
Choosing an air filter is important because it helps the system run the best it can. The basic recommendation by professionals is to find a filter with a high MERV rating, around 11 to 16. MERV refers to the amount of dust and dirt allowed through the filter.
- Do pleated air filters restrict airflow?
Many arguments say pleated air filters restrict airflow. However, most professionals agree that pleated filters are a great choice for those with allergies or who are more concerned with trapping dust and dirt.
- Is annual air conditioner maintenance necessary?
An air conditioner consists of many moving parts. If the unit is regularly serviced, there is less chance those parts will become broken or inoperable. There are no guarantees the system will last longer. However, the chances go up when it is properly maintained.
- Is AC maintenance expensive?
It depends on your budget and needs, but AC maintenance usually offers better value than waiting for problems and paying the repair costs.
The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources. For more information, read our Methodology and sources.