Whether you’re touching down at Dulles Airport or just finished baking in Beltway traffic, every Loudoun County resident loves coming home to some nice AC. When you live in Virginia, having central air conditioning is pretty much mandatory. We’re all willing to pay for AC when it’s working well, but what about when it breaks?
While a firm price and diagnosis can only be provided by a licensed HVAC pro, you can get a ballpark idea for air conditioning repair cost in Loudoun County by knowing what the big and small issues may be. Here’s a guide to help you gauge which air conditioning repairs come cheap, pricey or even free.
Cheap Air Conditioning Repairs
Catching a problem early can make a big difference in the cost of AC repair, marking the difference between damage to one part or a long-term problem that damages several system elements. If you can see a problem, try fixing it with these inexpensive solutions. If you can only hear the issue, you should call a professional ASAP to prevent further damage.
Damaged or Torn Insulation
Torn or frayed insulation on the refrigerant lines can also impact your AC’s efficiency. 6 feet of rubber self-sealing pipe wrap insulation should cost around $10 and is easy to fix yourself. Leaving the copper refrigerant line exposed to the elements risks damage and erosion to the pipe, which could later cause a refrigerant leak.
Replace or Clean the Air Filter
A dirty air filter can have a major impact on central air conditioner’s efficiency, simply due to restricted air intake. Replaceable filters typically cost $7-30 and are easy to switch out. Some systems have a reusable filter which can be cleaned at home (free!).
We recommend changing or cleaning the air filter monthly during summer, when your AC is running constantly. Buy the best quality filter you can afford. Any dirt and particles that make it through could end up collecting on the evaporator coil and decreasing efficiency.
Sometimes AC problems are simply due to a faulty thermostat, making a perfectly good system work poorly when you need it most. Replacing a thermostat is something you can do yourself for around $60, but with a diagnosis and professional install it could cost up to $125-$300.
Expensive Air Conditioning Repairs
While with proper training it is possible to fix some of the following problems yourself, we recommend having a professional perform these repairs. A good rule of thumb is, if you can’t see the problem, call an HVAC repairman. A professional will be able to detect and prevent any additional damage. Plus, a failed DIY repair will usually result in a more expensive remedy from a professional contractor.
Refrigerant Leak Detection and Repair
If you hear a hissing noise at the condensing unit or anywhere along the copper refrigerant pipe, you likely have a refrigerant gas leak. Ranging from at least $200 to well over $1,000 (very much depending on the extent of the leakage and damage), this is one of the most important repairs to have made to your system.
If your system is more than 8 years old or of very poor construction, don’t be surprised if the repairman recommends getting a new air conditioner. Sometimes getting a new unit is more economical in the long run.
AC Refrigerant Recharge
If you have a very small leak on your refrigerant line, it may be more cost effective to recharge the refrigerant at the start of the season than to replace or repair the unit. This should be done by an HVAC professional, but you should also ask them for a quote on the cost to fix or solder the leak. Recharging AC refrigerant can run between $145 and $225 per pound, depending on the age of your system and whether you require R22 or R410A refrigerant.
Condensing Unit Fan Motor Replacement
If the condensing unit fan isn’t working properly, it’s critical to get this back in working order ASAP. The fan cools the condenser, and without this crucial process, the pressure levels could go too high and burn out your compressor, the most expensive part of your system. Replacing the fan motor will cost you between $500 and $800.
Before you call, perform these basic checks
If your central AC isn’t as effective as it used to be, you might need a professional repair. But first, it’s smart to make sure that these easily-fixed issues aren’t the culprit:
- Thermostat not being in the “cool” position. Simply toggle it to the correct setting and wait 10-15 minutes to see if your AC kicks on.
- Blown fuses or circuit breaker not in the “on” position. Check your fuse box and replace blown fuses, or ensure that the circuit breaker for your AC was not accidentally turned off.
- Condenser fan obstruction. Go outside and see if any plants, bushes, or trees have grown too close to the condenser, and trim them back. You can also clean off dirt, grit and dead leaves if they’ve built up by using a simple garden hose and broom.
- Clean out the AC drain tube. You can clean out the drain tube yourself with a hanger and a mixture of bleach and water, just watch our how-to video.
- Clean your condenser once a year. Using a regular garden hose and sometime a broom, wash out any built up dirt, debris or dead leaves from the condenser. Make sure to power off the unit first! Watch our instructional video here.
Call early to prevent more damage
With annual maintenance and timely repairs, your central air conditioning system should provide you many years of comfort. If you can’t SEE what is wrong with your machine but you know it isn’t working right, call John C. Flood at (703) 440-7460 for professional AC repair right away to prevent further damage.