Air Conditioner Repair Guide – Costs, Troubleshooting Tips & FAQs
A properly functioning air conditioner is essential to your comfort during summer in most Canadian cities, and that’s why it’s so important to maintain your cooling system properly.
Much of that involves regular maintenance, annual inspections and tune-ups, and getting repairs from a professional when you need them. But if you’re not familiar with your cooling system or air conditioner repairs, then you probably have a lot of questions about maintenance, common issues, and air conditioner troubleshooting.
That’s why we at FurnacePrices.ca have put together this handy guide about air conditioner problems, maintenance, and repairs, and today you’ll learn everything you need to know about air conditioner upkeep.
Please note, the following is for informational purposes only. Any servicing you attempt is at your own risk.
Individual Air Conditioner Brand Repair Guides
Common Air Conditioner Problems
1. Dirty filter
Air conditioner filters should be changed every one to three months. Dirty filters can decrease air quality, lower efficiency and cooling capabilities, and cause the unit to break down sooner than it should.
2. Lack of maintenance
A cooling system is a big investment, and the best way to ensure you get the most life from the unit is to have it inspected and tuned up annually by a certified HVAC technician.
3. The unit doesn’t cool
Many things can impact your air conditioner’s ability to cool properly, including a dirty filter, improper thermostat setting, unit size, and more.
4. Improperly sized unit
An important task when buying a new air conditioner is making sure it’s the right size for your home. An AC that’s too small will run all the time and not be able to cool your home, but a unit that’s too large will cycle too often and increase indoor humidity levels.
5. Refrigerant leak
The air conditioner couldn’t cool without refrigerant, but this can leak if small holes or cracks form in the coil. When there’s a leak, the system won’t have enough refrigerant so that you may notice fluctuating temperatures, a hissing noise coming from the unit, and ice on the coil or refrigerant line.
6. Electrical problems
Air conditioners have important electrical components like capacitors and contactors, and if these are defective or wear out, then it can cause a system failure.
7. Improper installation
Having your unit professionally installed by a certified HVAC technician is crucial. Professional installation will ensure the unit is the right size, is pressure tested, is installed properly, and that it functions optimally for many years.
8. Thermostat problems
A defective thermostat can cause problems with the heating and cooling cycles. Similarly, the wrong thermostat settings can mean your home is never the right temperature, so it’s good to check your thermostat settings, make sure it’s calibrated properly, and ensure outside heat or cold sources are not influencing it.
How to Perform Air Conditioner Repairs
Frequently Asked Questions
One of the most important is changing the filter regularly, and having the unit serviced annually by a professional. It’s also important to clean the unit once a year, and that includes cleaning the coils, drain line, and coil fins, and removing debris from around the outdoor unit.
Annual professional maintenance includes things like:
- Checking the refrigerant charge
- Cleaning the condensing unit and coils
- Looking for leaks
- Clearing the drain line
- Cleaning and tweaking the blower and motor
- Calibrating the thermostat
- Changing the air filter
- Lubricating parts
- Testing electrical components and wiring
It’s usually best to have a professional do these steps as part of a pre-season tune up and inspection.
- Start with the simplest possible problem: the thermostat. Make sure it’s set to cool and at the right temperature for your comfort.
- You can also clean the interior to remove dust or dirt that may have built up.
- Next, check that the unit is getting power by making sure a fuse hasn’t blown or the circuit breaker tripped.
- If you haven’t changed the air filter in a while, do that now.
- Then, check to make sure the registers are open, that nothing is blocking the vents, and that there aren’t any visible leaks in the ductwork.
- Finally, go outside and check that no debris has fallen on the outdoor unit and that no weeds, trees, or other material are blocking air flow.
The coil can freeze when it’s dirty or there’s a refrigerant leak. You can thaw it by cranking up the thermostat and setting it to Fan Only for a couple of hours, until the coil thaws. If this is a recurring issue, it could be because your A/C unit is overpowered for the coil it’s matched with.
This is why it’s important to deal with a trusted and experienced professional when buying a new A/C to ensure all components are sized correctly.
The most likely culprit is a clog in the drain line that eliminates condensation from the system. When the line gets clogged with dirt, dust, and debris, it can cause water to back up the drain line and leak from the unit. Another problem that can cause leaking is a refrigerant leak because the coil will ice up, and when the unit shuts off, and the ice melts, water will drip down the unit.
Air Conditioner Repair Pricing and Parts
When it comes time for service, it can help to know the most common air conditioner repairs and the average costs for an HVAC technician to diagnose and fix the problem. That way, you can budget appropriately depending on what air conditioner maintenance you need.
On average, simpler air conditioner repairs involving the drain line, fuses, control board, and contractors can range from $75 to $590. More expensive service for components like the condensate pump, refrigerant, fan motor, and drain pans can range from $240 to $750.
Some of the most expensive air conditioner repairs include replacing parts, such as the fan motor, condenser coil, and compressor. These can range anywhere from $400 to $2,900 or more. However, there are many factors that can impact repair costs, including the age of the unit, how much labour is required, the size and efficiency of the unit, whether regular maintenance has been performed, and the extent of the damage.
Here’s a breakdown of air conditioner repairs and services, from the cheapest to the most expensive:
Basic Air Conditioner Repair and Maintenance Tools
✔ Garden hose to clean the outdoor unit
✔ Vacuum for eliminating clogs from the drain line
✔ Soap/water or vinegar/water solution for cleaning the drain line
✔ Screwdriver to open the access panel
✔ New fuse if your fuse has blown
✔ New air filter when replacing the filter
Air Conditioner Repair & Maintenance Safety Tips
✔ Always unplug the unit and shut off power to it before doing any maintenance or repair work
✔ Keep the area around the indoor and outdoor unit free of debris and flammable items
✔ Never use an extension cord to power your air conditioner
✔ Read the owner’s manual from the manufacturer and follow all instructions regarding safety, maintenance, and repairs
✔ Check the power cord regularly for wear and to make sure it’s not heating up
✔ If you suspect a refrigerant leak or major problem with the unit, shut off power and call a certified HVAC technician right away
✔ Always use replacement parts that are for your make and model
Finding HVAC Help and Maintenance
Professional installation, regular maintenance, and prompt repairs are important when you buy an air conditioner.
It’s also important to contact a certified local contractor for help. You’ll want to find a licensed HVAC specialist who has experience and a good reputation, and you can use our independent contractor certification program to find somebody in your area.
When choosing an HVAC contractor, we recommend checking that the company has:
✔ All the proper licenses & certifications
✔ Additional manufacturer training
✔ Experienced staff
✔ A good track record
✔ Adequate insurance
✔ Offers fair & transparent quotes