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How Much Does AC Maintenance Cost?

Low
$70
Average Cost
$125
High
$195
(cleaning and tune-up, including inspecting, tightening and testing all parts, and minor part replacement)

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How Much Does AC Maintenance Cost?

Low
$70
Average Cost
$125
High
$195
(cleaning and tune-up, including inspecting, tightening and testing all parts, and minor part replacement)

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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 as well.

Air conditioner maintenance is a valuable investment in your home. The average cost for an annual AC maintenance is $100-$150, with the average homeowner spending around $125 on cleaning and a tune-up, including inspecting, tightening and testing all parts, and minor part replacement, such as air filter or cleaning coils.

Annual AC Maintenance Cost

AC Maintenance Costs
National average cost$125
Average range$100-$150
Minimum cost$70
Maximum cost$195


Updated: What's new?

Annual Air Conditioner Maintenance Cost by Project Range

Low
$70
Cleaning or changing filter
Average Cost
$125
Cleaning and tune-up, including inspecting, tightening and testing all parts, and minor part replacement
High
$195
Recharging refrigerant

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 between $70-$195. If the call turns into a repair situation, expect to pay $60-$75 an hour plus parts.

Another consideration is an extended maintenance plan. If your system is out of warranty, an HVAC unit, or over 10 years old, you may want to purchase a plan that includes priority service, discounted services and cleanings, refrigerant recharges, winter checks (off-season discount), inspections, and tune-ups. An extended service contract costs $175-$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.


Contractor servicing AC unit


Air Conditioner Maintenance Costs by Type

The AC unit type also influences how much you will pay to have it serviced. Here are costs you can expect to encounter for each type of unit:


Air Conditioner Maintenance Cost

Air Conditioner Maintenance Cost


Type of unitCost to service
Portable AC$50-$150
Window AC$50-$150
Central Air / HVAC$85-$260
Swamp Cooler$100-$150
Ductless Mini Split$290-$800


Portable AC Maintenance Cost

A portable AC can be moved from room to room or mounted on the wall. The maintenance cost is generally $50-$150. A portable AC is similar to a window unit and has some of the same problems. A standard repair for these units is a clogged drain and costs about $100-$250 to repair.

Window AC Maintenance Cost

Window AC systems are fairly uncomplicated and only require an annual tune-up at a cost of $50-$150. Repairs are also usually inexpensive. Problems occur mostly due to creatures, such as frogs or insects, getting trapped inside and causing damage to parts. If the unit is not used during the winter, it may be a good idea to remove and store it inside the house. Other issues include a compressor malfunction at a repair cost of $50-$125 and thermostat 1 failure for $25-$85.

Central Air Maintenance Cost

It costs about $85-$150 to service a central air system. If the system also includes a furnace (HVAC), which many do, expect to pay $210-$260 for a tune-up. Typical repairs include refrigerant leaks or requiring a charge ($200-$500), drain lines 2 flushed ($75-$200), and thermostat replacement ($75-$500).

Swamp Cooler Maintenance Cost

These units are not meant for humid, hot environments, and they require a cracked window and a steady supply of water. Although swamp coolers 3 do not require a lot of maintenance, it is wise to have yearly or semi-annual maintenance done at a cost of $100-$150. Routine repairs include replacing the pads 4 at $125-$500, belts at $65-$85, and the pump 5 at $200-$275.

Ductless Mini Split Maintenance Cost

Ductless systems operate without the use of ducts, so this eliminates any ductwork problems. However, these systems have problems with a broken air handler 6. The good news is that because each unit is separate, the rest of the units in the house will continue to work while you have the disabled one repaired. Ductless systems are based on the number of zones because each area of the home requires a separate unit. These units sometimes leak behind the air handler. It is important to catch these leaks early on as they can cause mold and mildew in the wall. While a maintenance call costs between $290-$800, these repairs can cost $750 or more.

What Does an AC Tune-up Include?

Tasks included in an AC tune up vary according to the professional you hire and the type of system you have. Here is a standard checklist for a tune up:

  • Clean air filter or replace (if the unit has one).
  • Using a special cleaning agent, clean outdoor evaporator as well as coils.
  • Inspect and test all electrical wiring connections, check safety and appropriate rating.
  • Flush the drain lines 2 and put in drain tables to combat mold and mildew.
  • Test capacitors, valves and fan blade.
  • Check blower 7 motor to ensure amps and voltage are working correctly.
  • Clean and test all duct work for maximum efficiency.
  • Check on refrigerant level.
  • Test and calibrate the thermostat 1.
  • Lubricate and check all bearings for wear and tear.
  • Measure temperatures coming from all returns.
  • Measure amp and voltage draw on condenser.
  • Lubricate all moving parts.
  • Inspect the caulk 8 on a window unit.
  • Inspect and repair the electrical parts.
  • Check the airflow coming through evaporator coil.
  • Ensure that cooling and heating system cannot run at the same time.
  • Brush any bent coil fins back into shape.
  • Look for wearing or loose motor belts or pulleys and repair where appropriate.
  • Remove any debris in or around the compressor, condenser and fan.
  • Check air flow of blades and blower wheel.

Some of the most commonly performed tasks that will influence the cost of your maintenance visit are:


AC Tune Up Cost Chart

AC Tune Up Cost Chart


Maintenance taskCost
Air filter replacement$1-$25
Thermostat replacement$25-$250
Clean condenser coil$45-$100
Clean evaporator coil$95-$350
Refrigerant recharge$125-$300
Duct cleaning$225-$500


Home Air Filter Replacement

Home AC filter replacement is by far the most crucial step to maintain the integrity of your system and provide a long life. There are a few options for filter replacement that you should be aware of when replacing your filter. Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value or MERV rates the amount of dust and particles allowed through the filter. Choose a filter with a MERV rating of at least 11-16 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.

Pleated filters cost $4-$25 each, depending on the MERV rating. Allergen filters catch more dust, dirt, smoke, and bacteria that cause allergies. The cost is $12-$20 each. Carbon filters trap dirt, gases, and odors effectively. Expect to pay about $15-$22 for each filter. Fiberglass 9 filters are a more inexpensive alternative at $1-$4 each. The material in these filters catches larger air particles, but it is not good for those with allergies. HEPA or High-Efficiency Particulate Air filters are medical-grade filters. However, most AC units cannot handle the airflow necessary for this type of filter. Allergen filters are recommended for those who need better filtration. A HEPA filter requires your system to be equipped specifically for this filter.


Dirty home AC filter being replaced


AC Thermostat Replacement Cost

There are many types of AC thermostats 1. Gone are the days of the dial thermostat where you moved a small wheel to choose your temperature. You can select from the following types: programmable electronic thermostats at $25-$65, touchscreen thermostats run $60-$100, smart thermostats range from $130-$300, and voice-control thermostats are $210-$250.


Professional replacing AC thermostat

AC Coil Cleaning Cost

There are two types of coils on a home air conditioner. The evaporator coil is located in the unit inside the home, and 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 are essential jobs to keep your AC running smoothly and efficiently. The cost to clean an evaporator coil is $95-$350. The price of cleaning a condenser coil is $45-$100. However, these cleanings are often included in annual maintenance services. Ask your contractor for more information on including this in your service.


Cleaning AC coil with high pressure water

Home AC Recharge Cost

Freon 10 is the coolant in your air conditioner. It is normally a lifetime supply unless there are leaks or repairs that allow the freon to leave the unit. A home AC recharge costs $125-$300, including checking the freon level in the home AC. 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.

It is vital that a licensed contractor does this procedure because laws are in place to protect the environment. After 2020, no freon 10 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.


Contractor recharging home AC unit

AC Duct Cleaning Cost

Duct cleaning is achieved by vacuuming out all the dust and debris from the ducts located in the house. The buildup can cause allergies as well as making 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 3-5 years or more often if someone in your home suffers from severe allergies. Duct cleaning costs range from $225-$500.


Professional about to clean air ducts


Air Conditioner Repair 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. Some problems that might occur include:


Air Conditioner Repair Cost Chart

Air Conditioner Repair Cost Chart


Repair NeededCost
New thermostat$50-$450
Unclog condenser line$75-$200
AC drain pan replacement cost$75-$250
New capacitor$100-$300
New circuit board$100-$500
Replace a fan motor$150-$600
Repair a refrigerant leak$200-$1,200
New evaporator coil$250-$2,000
Replace a condenser$400-$700
Install new condenser coils$500-$2,500
Compressor replacement$1,000-$2,500


AC Maintenance Cost Factors

AC maintenance cost factors vary according to several circumstances, including:

  • 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 $75-$200, while a new condenser is $400-$700. Window unit repairs may consist of a capacitor replacement of $130 or a fan motor costing $295.
  • Time of year you have the work done. During the hotter months, it is more expensive to get AC maintenance done, and you may wait longer because AC companies are busy with repairs. Expect to pay $90-$140. Winter tune-ups cost $70-$90.
  • 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-$75 an hour).

Air Conditioner Maintenance Plans

It is no secret that regular maintenance extends the life of your AC unit. With that in mind, your regular tune-up could cost less if you have an air conditioner maintenance plan. You can choose between different options, including annual tune-ups and monthly AC maintenance plans:

Air Conditioner Maintenance Plans Chart

Air Conditioner Maintenance Plans Chart


Maintenance planWhat it coversCost
Annual Tune-upStandard checklist$75-$150 annually
Basic plan

Two checkups annually

Priority service

Percentage off repairs

$18-$25 / month
Better choice plan

Two checkups annually

Priority service

No visit or deductible charge

Percentage off repairs

Covers up to a certain $ amount in repairs

with an annual limit

24/7 Service

$30-$40 / month
Best choice plan

Two checkups annually

Priority service

No visit or deductible charge

Percentage off repairs

Covers up to a certain $ amount in repairs

with an annual limit

Credit toward purchase

of a new system

24/7 Service

$45-$75 / month


AC Preventative Maintenance

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 1 ($25-$65) 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 as well as the vents inside the house regularly.

How to Clean an Air Conditioner

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.


Professional cleaning AC filters


How to Save Money on Your Air Conditioning Bill

Everybody likes to save money. Saving on your electric bill can be accomplished by doing the following things:

  • 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.
  • Auto modes ensure that the AC unit turns off when the room is cool enough. In addition, programmable thermostats 1 keep the air from running when you are not at home and kick on about an hour before your arrival. There are also many AC systems that include an ‘eco’ mode. This setting allows your compressor to increase the fan speed while choosing a temperature that is 2 degrees higher than the thermostat is set to. The room will still feel just as cool, but your energy bill will go down.
  • Keeping your fans running circulates the air. This is true even during the winter - ceiling fans have a setting for winter circulation.
  • Using energy-saving light bulbs and avoiding using the oven on hot days are ways to cut back on the amount of energy used to cool your home. The heat from a clothes dryer can also make the house hotter. Make use of the great outdoors and hang your clothes outside.

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 11 that goes inside of the duct via spraying. The cost is high at $2,000-$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.

FAQs

  • 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. While there are no guarantees the system will last longer, the chances go up when it is properly maintained.

  • Can a dirty air filter cause a high electric bill?

A dirty filter can make it more difficult for your unit to operate and cool correctly. Therefore, it has to work harder and run longer to reach the temperature you want. This creates a higher electric bill.

  • 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 11-16. MERV refers to the amount of dust and dirt allowed through the filter.

  • Do pleated air filters restrict airflow?

There are many arguments that 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 MERV 8 good enough?

A MERV 8 rating is a good rating. However, for better dust filtration, a MERV 11-16 air filter is recommended.

  • What causes a central air unit not to cool?

There are many possible reasons that an air unit is not cooling. You can perform several checks yourself before calling in a professional: check to see if the filter needs to be changed, check the outdoor unit to make sure it does not need cleaning, and check the thermostat 1 and make sure it is on auto and not in the ‘on’ position. Also, make sure the circuit breaker did not trip. If none of these seem to be the problem, it may be best to call a professional.

  • How do you know if your central air needs freon?

Signs you need freon 10 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.

  • 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 1, coils or filter that need to be cleaned, a capacitor or relay switch needs replacing, or other issues.

Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
glossary term picture Thermostat 1 Thermostat: A device that senses and regulates temperature by turning heating and cooling devices on and off
2 Drain lines: The pipe through which the condensation removed from your home by the AC unit drains out of the house
3 Swamp coolers: A system for cooling the air in a home by passing warmer outdoor air over wet pads. This causes the moisture on the pads to evaporate, cooling the air. The cooler, moister air is then directed into the house
glossary term picture Padding 4 Pads: A cushion placed under a carpet to absorb impact, thus extending the life of the carpet
glossary term picture Pump 5 Pump: A device used to move air, liquid, or gas by mechanical means
6 Air handler: A unit that distributes heated or cooled air to the different areas of the home. Air handlers do not heat or cool the air, but instead pull the heat out of the air and direct it outside in the summer and inside in the winter. Air handlers are often part of a heat pump system
glossary term picture Blower 7 Blower: An accessory that makes a fireplace more efficient by circulating the warm air in the fireplace to other areas of the home
glossary term picture Caulking 8 Caulk: A chemical sealant used to fill in and seal gaps where two materials join, for example, the tub and tile, to create a watertight and airtight seal. The term "caulking" is also used to refer to the process of applying this type of sealant
glossary term picture Fiberglass 9 Fiberglass: Plastic that is reinforced with glass fibers. The fibers may be mixed randomly throughout the plastic, or come in the form of a flat sheet, or be woven into a fabric
10 Freon: A brand name for the types of refrigerant commonly used in air conditioning systems. It is also often used as simply another word for "refrigerant"
glossary term picture Liner 11 Liner: A covering, usually made of vinyl, for the walls and floor of a swimming pool, used to keep the water in and protect the pool's surface.

Cost to hire an annual air conditioner maintenance service varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

Updated:
The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources, including specialized publications and websites, cost studies, U.S. associations, reports from the U.S. government, contractors and subcontractors, material suppliers, material price services, and other vendor websites. For more information, read our Methodology and sources.
HVAC technician conducting the annual maintenance of an air conditioning unit
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Cost to hire an annual air conditioner maintenance service varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources, including specialized publications and websites, cost studies, U.S. associations, reports from the U.S. government, contractors and subcontractors, material suppliers, material price services, and other vendor websites. For more information, read our Methodology and sources.