HVAC Repair or Replace Calculator for 2022

HVAC Repair or Replace

HVAC Repair or Replace Calculator for 2022

Higher Prices, Supply Chain, and Uncertainty have changed the Math

Any time a homeowner with an aging AC unit has an unexpected AC failure, they have to decide what makes the most sense, fix it or replace it. There are many things to consider when selecting a new heating and cooling equipment. We'll cover a few of the signs that point to repair versus new system installation.

Written by Jeremy James

Jeremy James is a veteran of the U.S. Navy who has grown his family's HVAC business into one of the most successful home service businesses in Knoxville, TN. More than 20 years of experience in the HVAC and Engineering industries and passion for what we do has translated into our customer service, professionalism, and quality. LinkedIn

System Failures & Repair Costs

HVAC repairs are inevitable. The age of the system plays a significant role in the frequency and cost of these repairs. Efficiency and reliability also vary depending on age. If the HVAC system has not been regularly maintained during its lifespan, more frequent and costly repairs can be expected along with reduced efficiency and reliability.

Some common system failures and the costs associated with repair are:

It's not full-proof. But, if your AC is running but not cooling well, that's very often a mechanical issue. If it isn't starting at all, that's usually an electrical problem. Modern air conditioners have basic electrical-powered components and complex electrical control systems. Higher SEER units have solid-state electronics.

HVAC systems are susceptible to high temperatures that can lead to a possible failure of the contactors and capacitors. Capacitors and contactors are the most common electrical repair.

A capacitor is like a battery that provides starting assistance for the fan motor and compressor to work. The contactor is a switch-like device located in the outdoor condenser. Power to the compressor and condenser fans is supplied through the contactor. It is what turns the air conditioning unit on and off.

Both can fail mechanically or electrically. When they fail electrically, it can be dangerous to attempt repairs. Electrical components carry a high voltage.

Dirt, debris, and pests are notorious for system failures like these. A sign that the capacitor or contactor may be failing is no cold air blowing into the home and/or when the HVAC unit runs even when the thermostat is powered off.

Repairing and/or replacing the components is relatively inexpensive. Contact an HVAC service and repair specialist for assistance.

How much does it cost to replace a capacitor or contactor?

The Typical Cost for a capacitor or contactor replacement is around $200

Fan Motor

The condenser fan motor is subjected to the elements over the lifespan of the unit. These motors are subjected to extreme cold and extreme heat.

Homeowners can purchase covers for the outdoor condenser. Check with an HVAC specialist before placing anything on the unit. Reducing airflow through the unit will negatively affect its ability to cool.

Although designed to last the full life of the unit, without preventative maintenance the fan motors can stop working properly sooner than one might hope. The fan motor is a relatively simple repair.

How much does it cost to replace a condenser fan motor?

The typical cost for an OEM condenser fan motor varies by manufacturer. But you can expect it to be about $300 plus the cost of the motor. Homeowners can save money by replacing these motors with a generic rescue motor.

Refrigerant

One common HVAC repair is a unit low refrigerant level. Cooling systems should not require refrigerant refills regularly. A small amount of refrigerant is indeed lost when you connect gages. But it is an insignificant amount. Unexplained low refrigerant levels indicate a larger issue or possible leak.

If it is the best-case scenario, and the unit is using R410. Nearly all systems less than 15 years old would be using this type of refrigerant.

How much does R410 cost per pound?

R410 prices vary but you can expect the price to be $70-90 per pound. The labor for adding the refrigerant is not included in this price.

If the system uses R-22, which has been phased out and became obsolete by 2020, the cost is much higher.

How much is R22 per pound?

The price goes up almost monthly. As of July 2022, it is $200 per pound. Some companies are charging more. R22 systems should be replaced for large or recurring leaks.

Refrigerant leaks can be difficult to locate. Some refrigerant piping is within wall cavities and attics.

Leak repair pricing depends on the leak location. Coils can not be repaired and must be replaced. If the system is using R-22, most specialists will only replace the system, a repair may not be permanent.

How much does it cost to replace an evaporator coil?

An evaporator coil replacement will typically cost about $1000 plus the cost of the coil and any refrigerant that may be needed.

Compressor Failure

If an air conditioning unit is less than five years old and the compressor fails, homeowners can breathe a sigh of relief as it is most likely under warranty. The only repair costs will be the labor rate.

If the unit is over five years old or out of warranty, repair costs could be significant, making HVAC replacement the best option. Often, the cost to replace the compressor will be 50 percent or higher than the cost of a new system. This is why it's recommended to replace the entire air conditioning system.

How much does it cost to replace a compressor?

A compressor replacement will typically cost $1200-1400 plus the cost of the compressor and the refrigerant. When a compressor is replaced, all of the refrigerant must be replaced which is 5-7lbs.

Band-aid Repairs

As mentioned earlier, there are many times when it is appropriate to recommend an HVAC replacement over repair. Repairs on older systems or replacement of non-warranty parts can be very costly. In these cases, homeowners may choose a repair option to get a little more out of the unit. In this case, the homeowner has to weigh the pros and cons.

If the temporary repair doesn't last very long, the homeowner could be out the additional repair cost.

Refrigerant leaks are a case where it is often recommended to replace the HVAC system. Choosing continually fill a unit with low refrigerant and a known leak is not authorized by EPA regulations.

HVAC installation costs spread out over time with a finance option are typically less expensive than keeping an old HVAC unit running.

When Replacement Makes Sense

Age is the driving factor in replacing a unit that works but is breaking down regularly. Upfront HVAC replacement cost can easily be overcome in energy savings. If your HVAC unit is older than 15 years and you are repairing it once per year, it might be time to invest in a new unit.

HVAC replacement costs start as low as $6,000 depending on the system specifications, type of unit (package unit, split, ductless, heat pump, natural gas), and home configuration.

Homeowners can expect to recoup many air conditioner installation costs through a system with higher energy efficiency. When coupled with a programmable thermostat, homeowners can be energy conscious and save on operating costs.

Choosing the Right New HVAC System

The central ac unit is the largest, most expensive appliance in your home. When a homeowner needs an HVAC installation, they are planning to make an investment that will last for the next 10-15 years. When an HVAC professional comes out to provide a cost estimate, the homeowner expects to best return on investment possible.

The new HVAC unit must meet the specific heating and cooling needs of the home. This is why it's so important to perform a load calculation before an HVAC installation. If the new HVAC equipment is under or oversized, the energy efficiency of the AC unit and comfort of the home will suffer.

The second-biggest driver of installation costs is the efficiency of the new unit. Energy efficiency is measured in SEER or AFUE. SEER measures the cooling efficiency. AFUE is the efficiency of the gas furnace. Most homeowners want multiple efficiency options on their price quote.

The HVAC Repair vs. Replace Calculator for 2022

The following graph is based on the average replacement cost for a 3-ton heat pump split unit. The total cost and type of unit could affect the recommendation. As previously mentioned, systems that have been neglected could need to be replaced earlier than anticipated. This graph should be used as a guide only.

hvac replace or replace calculator

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