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CostHelper > Home and Garden  > Electrical, HVAC & Energy Efficiency > Repairing an Air Conditioning Condenser

Repairing an Air Conditioning Condenser Cost


How Much Does Repairing an Air Conditioning Condenser Cost?

 
Type of RepairCost and What is Included
Service Visit Hiring an HVAC technician to repair a condenser usually costs $100-$500 for fairly basic repairs.
Do-It-Yourself Many basic condenser repairs like replacing a fuse or capacitor or cleaning a condenser require only basic skills, with parts usually running $10-$25.
Major Repairs If major components are broken, it may require replacing the condenser, which can run up to $2,000. If the repairs cost more than half of an entire AC system and the system is getting old, many HVAC firms recommend replacing the system.

The condenser is the part of a central air conditioning system that's outside a home and makes a loud whirring sound when the fan is running. Sometimes during hot weather, a condenser can be the first part of a central air conditioning system to break down. When a central air conditioning system appears to run, but the air is not getting cooler, the problem may be with the condenser.

Typical costs:

  • Residential service calls to repair an air conditioning condenser usually cost $100-$500, depending on the cause of the problem and local wages. Basic repairs can include cleaning the condenser, replacing a fuse, replacing a capacitor, or troubleshooting electronics.
  • Many basic repairs can be done by someone with basic do-it-yourself skills. If central air is running weakly and the condenser has not been maintained in years, it may just need a good cleaning, using a hose, a wet dry vacuum, and, preferably, a can of condenser cleaner ($5-$10).
  • If a condenser doesn't start and doesn't make any noise when it tries to start, it could be that the fuse is blown or the AC drain line is clogged. Fuses can be tested with a digital multimeter ($10-$20+), and replacements can be found at hardware stores ($10-$25). AC drain lines can be cleared using stiff, thin brush and a wet/dry vacuum.
  • If a condenser doesn't start and makes a faint humming sound but doesn't "fire up," turn it off right away to avoid burning out the fan motor. Replacing a capacitor can be done with someone with basic do-it-yourself electrical skills, and replacement capacitors can be found for $11-$20 at many hardware stores.
  • If you turn of the condenser and can't manually turn the fan with a screwdriver, it may be because the fan is stiff or the fan motor needs to be replaced. Lubricants like WD-40 can be bought for $4-$10. Replacing a fan motor requires more skill, but can be done by experienced do-it-yourselfers.
  • More complicated (and less common) fixes to a condenser can be due to a rodent nesting inside the electronics or chewing on cables, or a refrigerant leak. Service calls to fix electronics can run $200-$500. If the problem is larger, like the condenser itself is broken, many HVAC firms recommend replacing the whole condenser (up to $2,000+). If the condenser repair costs more than half the cost of the whole system, it may be time to replace the central air conditioning system ($3,500-$7,000+).
Related articles: Central Air Conditioner, Ductwork, Ductless Air Conditioner, Room Air Conditioner

What should be included:
  • During an air conditioning repair service call, a technician should review and test components to determine what is at fault. They may test fuses and wire terminals with a digital multimeter or voltmeter, and inspect the condenser, hoses, and wires. Often, they will clean the condenser cavity if debris buildup is suspected.
  • Technicians usually carry equipment for basic electronic repairs which may include replacing damaged or chewed wiring, or replacing damaged or brittle fasteners.
Additional costs:
  • For do-it-yourselfers, a can of condenser cleaner costs $5-$10.
  • A ratchet set can run $25-$100+, though basic condenser repair usually requires only 1/4 and 5/16 inch sockets. Basic wet/dry vacuums start at $50-$80.
  • Replacement condenser fuses run $10-$25, and replacement capacitors usually cost $10-$20.
Discounts:
  • An air conditioner removes heat from a house by moving hot refrigerant vapor outside, where the heat can be blown away by a condenser's fan. Buildup of dirt and leaves inside the condenser can decrease the airflow, making it less effective, stressing the system, and wasting electricity.
  • Proper cleaning of a condenser can extend the life of the system, make the system more energy-efficient, and reduce the chance of the system failing during a heat wave, when it's most difficult (and most expensive) to hire a service technician. Amplify DIY provide steps to clean a condenser[1] . It's a good idea to plan your condenser maintenance in the spring or early summer.
  • YouTube channels like Word of Advice TV[2] provide instructions for basic repairs like clearing an AC drain line, cleaning a condenser, or replacing a fuse or capacitor.
Shopping for repairing an air conditioning condenser:
  • When an air conditioning system fails, most experts recommend first contacting the HVAC company that originally installed the system. They should be familiar with the components involved and should be more likely to have compatible replacement parts on hand.
  • If contacting a different firm or if the original installer is unavailable, make a note of the manufacturer and ask if the firm is familiar with those brands and models.
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External Resources:
  1.  www.youtube.com/watch?v=_M-JLzIQHtk
  2.  www.youtube.com/user/WordofAdviceTV
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