HVAC Maintenance—It Pays
Is it better to pay for regular HVAC (Heating/Ventilation/Air Conditioning) maintenance, or just pay for repairs when something goes wrong or breaks?
We’re inclined to argue that the reason “prevention is the best medicine” is such a timeworn phrase is because it is also true.
But we don’t have to rely on old commonsensical sayings. Let’s look at the average costs of HVAC repair and HVAC maintenance and see which affects your pocketbook more.
In this post, in comparing the two costs, we consider:
- The cost of HVAC repairs
- DIY HVAC repairs: Is this ever a good idea?
- The cost to replace an entire HVAC system
- The cost of HVAC maintenance
- HVAC company repair and maintenance services
Of course, the cost of any HVAC repair depends on what the problem is, the hourly rate of the HVAC service technician, and the cost of whatever parts require replacement. But as a rough estimate, HomeGuide puts air conditioner repair costs at about $125 to $459 on average and furnace repairs between $125 and $355. But that doesn’t include if you need to pay more for additional parts and services, depending on exactly what the problem is.
Also, according to HomeGuide, HVAC technicians charge about $75 to $150 per hour just for their labor. If it’s a repair call, labor charges typically don’t kick in until after the first hour. That’s because the first hour is considered a service charge. While the service charge is the same $75 to $150 labor rate, the service charge isn’t prorated for the actual time spent—if it takes five minutes for the technician to determine your problem is just to reset a breaker, you still pay the full service charge.
In some cases, HVAC companies offer a flat rate for small jobs. This, of course, is only a good thing if your repair job is actually small.
Where costs escalate is with emergency service, usually defined as anything that requires immediate dispatch as opposed to normal scheduling. It also encompasses time spent outside of normal business hours. While no one has actually tracked whether breakdowns always occur at night or on weekends or holidays, it does seem to somehow always work out that way.
According to HomeGuide, you can expect to pay $140 to $210 per hour for emergency repair services, and in some extreme cases, as much as $600 per hour. For after normal business hours or weekend calls, the HVAC technician labor rate can run an additional $40 to $80 per hour.
What about parts? According to Fixr, these are the approximate costs to replace various HVAC system parts:
- Fuse or breaker: $30 to $300
- Air filter: $75 to $195
- Thermostat: $50 to $450
- Blower: $100 to $150
- Circuit board: $100 to $150
- Expansion valve: $150 to $200
- Capacitor: $200 to $250
- Freon: $200 to $1,500
- Evaporator coil: $250 to $2,000
- Compressor pump: $1,000 to $2,500
Also keep in mind that you pay for the inconvenience and time of a repair. If it’s cold outside and your furnace isn’t working, it’s getting colder in your home by the hour. The same holds true if your air conditioning is on the fritz and it is sweltering outside.
As a general rule, trying to repair an HVAC issue yourself isn’t a good idea. Licensed HVAC technicians complete extensive and thorough training on how to diagnose and repair the products of various manufacturers. The average homeowner is unlikely to possess the same knowledge to safely work on the complicated mechanics of a home comfort system.
There’s one exception: before calling for any HVAC repair service, make it a practice to check the following:
- Go to your electrical box and locate the breakers for your HVAC system. Even if it looks as if the breakers are in the right position, switch them off for about ten seconds, and then back on to reset them. Many times the issue is just this kind of electrical glitch.
- If your thermostat is battery operated, change the batteries. If you can’t remember the last time you changed the batteries, this is possibly the easy solution you need.
Sometimes there’s only just so much you can do to fix equipment, and then you need a new HVAC system. A new air conditioning system can run anywhere between $4,820–$9,350; a new furnace anywhere between $400 and $6,000.
That’s just the cost of the unit. Labor to install the unit can run upwards of 50% of the cost of the system itself. If you need to replace ductwork, you’re talking about another $2,000 to $3,000 to replace the entire system. If you’re just repairing sections, it’s anywhere from $2 to $4 per linear foot.
A well-maintained HVAC system lasts at least 15 years, possibly even more. The key phrase here is “well-maintained.”
The bottom line is that whatever HVAC maintenance might cost you, in the long run it saves you not only money, but time incurred from emergency repairs on parts that break down at inconvenient times. In addition, regularly maintained HVAC systems enjoy longer lifespans. Plus, the cost of a maintenance plan becomes part of the regular home budget accounting, letting you avoid surprise expenses from unforeseen and likely costly repair bills.
What does regular HVAC maintenance involve? It’s usually servicing performed semi-annually, right before the summer cooling and winter heating seasons. In the course of maintenance service, you can expect the HVAC technician to:
- Clean or replace filters
- Check thermostat settings
- Clean and/or adjust components
- Clean condensate drains
- Adjust pilot
- Lubricate all moving parts
- Inspect piping
- Test starting capabilities, safety controls
- Measure volts and amps
- Monitor air flows, AC and heating cycles
- Examine overall equipment condition and clearances
- Replace any malfunctioning parts
- Refill refrigerant
- Generally ensure efficient and proper HVAC operation
According to PickHVAC, maintenance plans can cost you, depending on your HVAC system and the type of maintenance service plan selected, somewhere along these lines:
- Furnace tune-up: $99 to $200
- Air handler tune-up: $85 to $175
- Complete system tune-up: $135 to $300
- Annual service agreement with two tune-ups: $150 to $350
Ongaro & Sons has licensed and experienced HVAC professionals who will perform any repair and maintenance service to your complete satisfaction, at an affordable cost consistent with industry standards.Ongaro & Sons offers over 90 years of experience providing high quality HVAC services. Ongaro & Sons is a licensed state contractor and our qualified technicians are fully insured. Our 100% guarantee ensures your complete satisfaction.
Contact Ongaro & Sons or call us at 707-675-0947 today if you need HVAC system repair. Let’s discuss a regular maintenance plan to avoid any emergency–and costly–problems. We look forward to discussing your needs and providing the service that keeps you comfortable.