The national average cost to have your air conditioning unit or system serviced ranges from $50 to $140. What you pay depends on whether the technician performs a simple tune-up and cleaning, or if they discover any larger issues with your air conditioner that they need to repair.
When the heat index rises, retreating to an air-conditioner-cooled home beats the alternative of sweating it out. But keeping cool comes at a cost— and no, we're not just talking about your energy bills. It also means taking care of your air conditioning with a regular AC service from a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) technician. In fact, regular maintenance on a unit might be a requirement to keep some manufacturer's warranties from voiding.
Routine maintenance prolongs the life of window units, evaporator coolers (also known as swamp coolers), split AC systems, and central air conditioning systems. It also ultimately saves money on energy bills and keeps the home cooler — a triple win. Before you hire a technician to service your AC, get an estimate on air conditioning service and maintenance costs.
What's in this cost guide?
The total price you pay for AC service and maintenance will depend on the flat rate or hourly fee your contractor normally charges and, if there is a problem, what it costs to repair that specific issue with your air conditioning.
For routine maintenance, most AC service technicians charge a flat rate of $50 to $140.
Some HVAC professionals charge an hourly rate for service work. Expect to pay $65 an hour on average. The hourly rate may apply to their travel to and from the job location, or it may solely apply to work done on-site (in which case, some contractors charge a separate travel fee to cover transportation costs).
Below are some example rates several HVAC technicians charge for AC service calls, and what their services include:
Gilman Cooling & Heating in Cape Coral, Florida
- New customer tuneup special: $59
- Standard air conditioning system tuneup: $89
Toasty's Heating & Cooling in Farmington, Michigan
- General maintenance for air conditioning unit: $79
- Advanced maintenance for air conditioning unit: $138
- The price includes chemicals for the system.
Atlantic Coast Contractors in Newport News, Virginia
- Standard maintenance rate: $95
- Clean outdoor evaporator and condenser coils with specialty cleaner.
- Flush drain lines.
- Install drain tables to reduce buildup (mold, algae, etc.) in drain lines.
- Check refrigerant levels, capacitors and safeties.
- Check and tighten electrical connections.
- Inspect duct system.
- Measure amp draw and electrical current.
- Test backup electrical heat.
- Clean burners on furnaces and inspect flue pipe.
- Check blower wheel.
- Lubricate all moving parts.
- Winter (off season) special: $69 for all of the above
If your air conditioner needs repairs, the national average for labor and parts is $300. However, the actual amount you'll pay to repair your air conditioner depends on the type of repair it needs:
|Repair||National average cost|
|Repair refrigerant leak||$225 to $1,000|
|Clearing clogged condenser line||$150|
|Replace a thermostat||$90 to $120|
|Replace the capacitor||$100 to $400|
|Install new circuit board||$120 to $600|
|Install new condenser fan||$400 to $500|
|Replace evaporator coil||$710|
|Replace the compressor||$1,000 or more|
|Replace ductwork||$35 to $55 per linear foot to install, including labor and materials or $150 to $250 per duct run (typical homes have 6 to 10 runs)|
In some cases, it's more cost-effective to replace your AC system. If repair costs exceed $500, the unit is more than 10 years old, or it uses HCFC-22 refrigerant which will stop being produced in 2020, consider replacing instead of repairing your air conditioning.
AC service fees will cover a standard checklist to evaluate your air conditioner's performance and conduct maintenance to prevent larger problems. Depending on the type of HVAC system you have, a technician will typically go through this AC service call checklist during a regular tune-up:
- Turn on the system to check the accuracy of the thermostat.
- Conduct a diagnostic test on your unit's electrical terminals.
- Measure amp draw and electrical current.
- Check and tighten electrical connections.
- Run through the electrical control sequence, ensuring the cooling and heating system can't operate at the same time.
- Measure airflow through the evaporator coil.
- Inspect the coil fins. It's common for these to become bent over time. Using a fine comb, the technician will brush them back into shape.
- Clean outdoor evaporator and condenser coils with specialty cleaner (if you have an outdoor unit).
- Clear any debris from the fan, condenser, and compressor in dual split systems or around window units.
- Inspect window seals around window units.
- Inspect ductwork in central AC systems and fix loose seals.
- Inspect and flush drain lines if necessary.
- Check for adequate refrigerant level and test for refrigerant leaks.
- Check blower wheel and blades for proper air flow.
- Lubricate the motor and other moving parts.
- Inspect motor belts and pulleys for wear and tightness.
- Replace or clean the air filter.
During the tune-up, there are three common problems your HVAC professional might uncover:
- It blows hot air. If your air conditioning is on but only warm air blows from the vents, your system may need a refrigerant recharge or there may be a leak in the line.
- It won't turn on or off. First, check to make your thermostat works. It may need new batteries. If that's not the problem, there could be a failure somewhere in the electrical connection.
- The AC unit is frozen. Several things may be going on. If the AC doesn't have enough refrigerant, the coils can become too cold. If the fan is damaged, it can prevent air from circulating.
Most air conditioning systems last 15 years on average (window units typically last about 10-12). Regular air conditioner maintenance and tune-ups can help your unit reach its full lifespan.
Between service calls from an HVAC professional, make sure you're cleaning or replacing the AC system's air filter. Dirty filters can collect debris, block airflow, and clog the evaporator coil, which absorbs your home's heat. If you use your AC frequently, do this cleaning task at least every month. If you have multiple pets, severe allergies, or experience high levels of dust (like during a home remodel), change it once every three weeks.
According to the Department of Energy, the average household spends 6% of its energy costs on home cooling, but this maintenance task can reduce your air conditioner's energy consumption by 5 to 15%.
Be sure to ask about new customer rates. Getting your system serviced in the off-season (so, not in the middle of a summer heat wave), when HVAC companies are looking for business, can also save you some money.
Most HVAC service providers offer discounts for multi-season or long-term contracts, which usually bundles your furnace maintenance and air conditioning maintenance together. The contractor will inspect the furnace in the early fall, before the start of the winter season, to make sure your system heats adequately. Then, before the start of summer, they will make sure your AC runs smoothly and efficiently, so you stay cool all summer long.
Another perk of signing a long-term contract is that if something does go wrong unexpectedly, most HVAC service providers ensure that contract clients get priority attention, without the added emergency cost. During a heat wave, that can mean the difference between languishing for days or instant relief.
How to find a good HVAC technician
You can't just hire anybody to service your AC — you need to hire someone who is qualified, reputable and affordable. Take these steps to ensure you hire the best pro to service your AC:
- Compare HVAC technicians online. Going online allows you to quickly find and view the top HVAC technicians in your area.
- Read reviews and ratings. You'll get a sense of the technician's reputation and capabilities by reading the customer reviews.
- Check their credentials. Make sure the pros you're considering have the proper licenses and certifications. Check your state and local governments' websites to see what the requirements are in your area.
- Get free estimates from at three to five technicians. You should always get quotes from several pros you're considering to ensure you're paying the best price for your AC service.
For more tips on how to hire a pro, visit Thumbtack's Smart Hiring guide.