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A/C Repair2019-06-07T22:13:00-04:00

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 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

Amana A/C Repair Guide
American Standard A/C Repair Guide
Armstrong A/C Repair Guide
Bryant A/C Repair Guide
Carrier A/C Repair Guide
Coleman A/C Repair Guide
ComfortMaker A/C Repair Guide
Continental A/C Repair Guide
Daikin A/C Repair Guide
Goodman A/C Repair Guide
Heil A/C Repair Guide
Keeprite A/C Repair Guide
Lennox A/C Repair Guide
Luxaire A/C Repair Guide
Napoleon A/C Repair Guide
Payne A/C Repair Guide
Rheem A/C Repair Guide
Ruud A/C Repair Guide
Tempstar A/C Repair Guide
Trane A/C Repair Guide
York A/C Repair Guide

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.

First off, locate the filter, which is usually in the air return vent or on the indoor unit. Remove the grille from the air return or access panel from the front of the unit. Slide out the old filter. Clean the old filter or replace it with a new one. Slide the new or cleaned filter back into place using the arrows for guidance. Replace the grille or access panel.

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.

Many things can cause this problem, and some of the most common include dirty air filters, obstructions in the vents, closed registers, a faulty thermostat or bad thermostat setting, and a dirty coil. If the problem has always been there, then it could be that the unit is too small for your home.
  1. Start with the simplest possible problem: the thermostat. Make sure it’s set to cool and at the right temperature for your comfort.
  2. You can also clean the interior to remove dust or dirt that may have built up.
  3. Next, check that the unit is getting power by making sure a fuse hasn’t blown or the circuit breaker tripped.
  4. If you haven’t changed the air filter in a while, do that now.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Turn off power to the unit. With a garden hose (not a power washer), rinse the outdoor coil and coil fins to remove dirt, dust, leaves, grass, and other debris. Turn the unit back on. Repeat annually.

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.

Locate the access point and vacuum out the clog. You can then flush the line with warm water and soap or warm water and vinegar, and leave it for 30 minutes.
Most likely the problem is electrical and the unit isn’t getting power. A fuse may have blown or the circuit breaker tripped, and you can fix it by resetting the breaker or replacing/resetting the fuse.
The average air conditioner lifespan is 12 to 15 years. If your air conditioner is older than 10 years and needs major repairs (there’s a problem with the coils or condenser, for instance), then you might be better off investing in a new unit. Plus your new unit will be covered under warranty, may qualify for rebates, and may be more energy-efficient too!

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:

$75 to $290

This drain line is responsible for eliminating condensation from the system. The drain line can become clogged with dirt and other debris, and when this happens, water will back up the line, overflow, and leak from the unit.
A malfunction with the capacitor is one of the most common causes of blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers because the capacitor regulates the electrical current through the condenser.

$100 to $500

The contactor is a switch that gets low voltage from the thermostat and then closes the circuit to power the compressor and condenser fan. When it wears out, it needs to be replaced.

Some air conditioner systems use a condensate pump to eliminate condensation from the system, and if this pump malfunctions, it needs to be replaced.
Small leaks in the coil or hoses can be repaired relatively easily, but larger leaks may require a coil replacement, which can cost $1,500 or more.

$100 to $750

The control board is the electrical circuit board that supports and connects all the electrical systems in the unit, and if there’s a failure here, various components can stop working.
This component blows air across the condenser for cooling, and sometimes it will continue running when it shouldn’t, not run when it should, or run at the wrong speed.
The drain pans are plastic or metal containers that catch the water that comes from the evaporator coil or drain line. From time to time, these can crack or become corroded and need to be replaced.
Low refrigerant either means the refrigerant wasn’t appropriately charged at installation or that there’s a leak in the coil or hoses. When the refrigerant is low, the unit won’t function properly or won’t run at all, so the levels need to be topped off.
The condenser motor powers the blades that blow air over the condenser, and without this component, the system won’t be able to cool your home.

$400 to $2,300

When the fan motor (mentioned above) breaks completely, it needs to be replaced, and this will cost more than basic service.
An air conditioner cannot function without the coil, because it’s inside the coil that the refrigerant absorbs heat to produce cold air. Replacing the coil is one of the most expensive air conditioner repairs you may face because the part is pricey and the replacement requires a lot of labour.
The compressor is responsible for circulating refrigerant through the system, and replacing this component is typically the most expensive air conditioner maintenance you could require.

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

screwdriver - air conditioner repair
vacuum - air conditioner repair

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.

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Shop with confidence and peace of mind knowing that you’ll get excellent service at a fair price.

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

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