Whats a fair price?

What should it cost | Residential

This list is being added to on a regular basis. There will also be updates to the articles where we discuss the individual components where you can find pricing as well.

Here you will find our opinion on what is a fair estimated cost for the most common types of repairs and system replacements. These prices are estimates from the south-central US and are current as of 3/4/2018
Prices do not include labor nor a service call fee.
Labor rates are typically between $65 to $150 per hour and most contracting companies charge by the quarter hour. Most companies will also charge for the time needed to travel to the local supply store to acquire your parts.

Service call fees range from Free to $75. Keep in mind that if a company does not charge a service call fee then they are more prone to charging you more for repairs. We all need to make a living and it cost money for labor, fuel, insurance, office staff, maintenance etc.

Component replacements:

Air handling units: See fan coil and air handling units

Air purification | UV for the home owner

UV air purification is separated into two categories. Local and Envelope.
A local UV bulb system ranges from $350 to $650 (labor not included)
An envelope UV system ranges from $600 to $1,200 (labor not included)
Labor time: 1 hour

UV purification is widely misunderstood, and we hear of this misconception on a regular basis. Technicians assume that a UV bulb located in the air handler or near the evaporator coil will purify the air, but this is not true. UV light only disinfect the surfaces where the light shines. A UV light in this case will only help to reduce the amount of biological growth on the coil and in the air handler. This in turn will improve the overall air quality in the home or building but it does not disinfect the air.

Photo-hydro-ionization is process first used commercially by the RFG environmental group. https://www.rgf.com. Their systems produce oxidation plasma as a result of a small UV light shining on a metal that acts as a catalyst. The plasma that is created travels throughout the entire envelope of the home or building and effectively disinfects the air as well as surfaces. These units are much more expensive than a conventional UV bulb, but they are truly superior and in a league of their own.

Notes on UV light: UV Light can damage the eyes and skin. UV lights other than the top 3 models listed here can dry out plastics which can spell disaster for plastic drain pans and other components in the HVAC system

Odor absorbing medias range from $50 to $125 (labor not included)

Air purification | Filtration

Filters should be replaced at regular intervals, usually once a month. During mild temperature months when the system is not running often, you can extend this out to six or eight weeks, but it is important to check them regularly.

Air filters that are typically found in homes today can have a wide range of costs. The biggest factor in this is the MERV rating. A medium high MERV rated filter ranges from $11 to $18. (labor not included)
Labor time: ¼ hour

Attic fans ($350 - $800):
Attic fans should only be used if you are certain that you have adequate openings to the attic to keep the fan from drawing air from the home or building. People like to use them to reduce the amount of heat in the attic. Attic fans range fromm$75 to $600 (labor not included)

Capacitors help motors start and run. Over time they become weak causing the motor to overheat and eventually burn out. A weak capacitor also shortens the life expectancy of the motor. Once a capacitor fails, the motor will stop working. The only way to know if a capacitor needs to be replaced is to check it with a meter capable of checking capacitance.

Capacitors have a wide range in cost because the size and type needed is determined by the motor. The average capacitor cost is between $25 and $75. A turbo capacitor is one that is made in the USA and is of superior build than the average capacitor. They range from $40 to $190 with the most common being around $165. (labor not included)
Labor time: ¼ to ½ hour

Circuit boards
A furnace circuit board controls a variety of functions. It controls the regular operation of the furnace and monitors various safety circuits. Vibrations can weaken solder points and there are relays built in which have points that can fail. The average cost for a replacement board is between $125 and $600 largely dependent upon the type of furnace they are on. (labor not included)

A heat pump circuit board is much the same as a furnace circuit board regarding why they fail and the type of functions they perform. The cost is also similar, ranging from $65 to $550 dependent upon the type of system they are controlling. (labor not included)
Labor time: 3/4 hour

Compressors do not often fail and when they do it is a good indication that there is another significant problem in the system that also needs to be addressed. The unfortunate truth here is that without a running compressor in the system, it can be difficult to diagnose why the failure occurred. Often times, a replacement is not going to be recommended because compressors are normally the most expensive part in the system. Replacement compressors typically range from $800 to $1,700 depending on type and size. (labor not included)
A two stage or variable capacity compressor can easily cost over $2,000 (labor not included)
Labor time: 4 hours

Compressor hard start kit
This is a component that gives the compressor a good amount of boost at start up. They can also be helpful with systems that cause the lights to dim when the system turns on. Averages between $65-185 (labor not included)

Condensate drains
Dirt and debris can build up in your drain lines and cause the drain line to clog or worse yet, overflow into your home or building. This is usually caused by failure to change the filter regularly. I know that may sound odd, but the reason is simple. Debris that makes it past the filter is going to be easily caught by the moist evaporator coil and it will travel down the fins of the coil and into the drain line. Drains should be cleaned annually. If a service call is requested for a clogged drain the average cost is less than $50. In some cases, the drain line might need to be modified to complete the job and in this case the repair parts might reach $100. (labor not included)

Please note. Do not use bleach to clear a drain line. The corrosive action of bleach can cause leaks in your evaporator coil. It is ok to do so if you flush several gallons of water down the drain after the bleach to make sure it has been flushed out of the drain line. Instead, use vinegar.
Labor time: ½ hour

Condensate pump
These are used when the condensate must be pumped up and out of the home or building. Typically cost between $90-$250 (labor not included)
Labor time: 1/2 to 1 hour

Condensing coils
The outdoor coil is much like the indoor coil and can suffer the same problems. The biggest difference is the refrigerant is under high pressure so even a small leak can become a big problem very quickly. The average parts cost to repair a leak on a condensing coil is $400 to $900. This includes refrigerant and other materials needed to complete the job. Replacement of a condensing coil is usually so high it is better to replace the entire unit. Part of the reason for this is because the entire outdoor unit must be disassembled and reassembled to replace the coil. The average condensing coil cost is $1,200 to $2500. (labor not included)
Labor time: 4 hours

Contactors and relays
Contactors and relays are switches that allow the control circuit to turn on and off various components of the HVAC system. Just about everything in the HVAC system is powered through a contactor or relay and they are one of the most common items to fail. The control system is usually going to be a low voltage circuit (24 volts) and the contactor or relay will provide the high voltage (120 or 240 volts) to the actual component. The most common failure for a contactor or relay is being stuck in the "open" position. The second most common failure is when the points, which is where the electricity travels through the contacts, is burnt up due to normal use. Every time a contact point opens and closes there is an electrical arc from point to point which erodes the points. The average cost ranges from $40 to $90. (labor not included)
Labor time: ½ hour

Electric heat and auxiliary heat
Electric heat repairs are not commonly needed unless you fail to maintain your system. The most common failure is when the relays or wires burn up due to poor connections. The average cost to repair an electric heat kit ranges from $75 to $125. If the heat kit needs to be rebuilt the cost may be as high as $800 depending upon the manufacturer. (labor not included)
Labor time: 1/2 hour

Evaporator coils
The evaporator coil is in the indoor unit (also called an air handler or fan coil unit.) The evaporator coil is prone to a buildup of dust and debris that can restrict air flow and damage the compressor. Airborne chemicals can corrode coils which can leads to leaks. Do not use bleach in your drain line! An evaporator coil with small leaks is not uncommon and you may not notice the loss in performance right away. The average cost for an evaporator coil is $875 to $1,500. Repairing leaks on an evaporator coils is rarely performed. (labor not included)
Labor time: 3 hours

Fan coil and air handling units
Electric air handler or fan coil unit, moves the air for both heating and cooling and contain several of the components listed in this article. Repair costs will depend on the brand, location and the exact nature of the problem.

Fan motors
Blower motors are in the indoor unit while condensing fan motors are located on the outdoor unit. The most common type of failure is bearings that wear out.

Blower motors and condensing fan motors typically costs between $150 and $450. (labor not included)
High efficiency variable speed motors can easily cost as much as $1,000 or more if replacing them with the original manufacturer motor. (labor not included)
Off the shelf variable speed motors cost between $600 to $800 (labor not included)
Labor time: 1 hour

Fuses blow due to excessive amperage from a failing component, loose connections or can blow out during an electrical storm. That's what they're supposed to do; they stop surges from going through and damaging the more expensive component. When a fuse fails the cause of failure should be determined before the new fuse is installed but without a running system, this cannot always be done.
The average fuse or breaker costs between $3 and $250 but the labor to determine the cause of failure can vary widely. (labor not included)
Labor time: ¼ to2 hours

Gas Valves:
Gas valves are another component that rarely fail and when they do it is usually due to dirt or debris building up at the inlet of the valve. The typical gas valve cost is $175 where a 2-stage valve is usually around $250 (labor not included)
Labor time: 1.25 hours

Refrigerant leaks
Finding and repairing a refrigerant leak can be difficult and the price can vary depending upon how long it takes to find it and then how difficult it is to repair, if it is possible at all. Then you must recharge the system. The average cost is $225-$1600 (labor not included)
Labor time: 1 to 4 hours

Refrigerant Metering Device
There are several types of metering devices and the most common in residential systems is the TXV or thermostatic expansion valve. The metering device provides a pressure drop point and has two distinct purposes. It holds refrigerant back in a condensed state and feeds refrigerant into the evaporator at the correct flow rate. The typical TXV cost is $450. This includes refrigerant and other materials needed to complete the job. (labor not included)
Labor time: 3 hours

Refrigerant recharge:
Assuming your system uses R410A the cost should be between $125-$450. This is usually somewhere around $59.00 for the first pound and $49.00 for each additional.
Labor time: 3/4 to 1 hour

Relays: See contactors and relays

Reversing valves:
Reversing valves rarely fail and when they do the normally get stuck in one position and can’t switch to the other mode of operation (heating versus cooling.) If it fails midway between the two, your system will not heat or cool at all. The most common cause of failure is debris in the system which is an indication that the installation was not done properly.

The average reversing valve replacement cost is between $650 and $950. This includes refrigerant and other materials needed to complete the job. (labor not included)
Labor time: 3.5 hours

Thermostats are typically not repaired because the internals are not suited to be taken apart or diagnosed. A replacement thermostat is generally about $85 but some models cost as much as $275 and up. (labor not included)
Labor time: 1/4 hour

TXV: See refrigerant metering device

Equipment replacements:

The following average estimated prices are for system replacements including labor and the average amount of materials needed for a typical job. Variations by brand, access to the equipment, upgrades for code compliance, variations in equipment and material costs as well as non typical configurations will affect these numbers.

Shown below: Gas heat, Electric heat and Heat pump.
Smallest capacity (1.5 ton), least efficient (14 SEER)
Middle capacity (3 ton), least efficient (14 SEER)
Middle capacity (3 ton), Super high efficiency (20 SEER)
Largest capacity (5 ton), Super high efficiency (20 SEER)

There are nearly as many options for models’ efficiencies and special features as there are options for automobiles, so we are not going to list them all here. This is intended to serve as a guide to give you an idea of the price range, and what to expect when that day comes.

Gas Heat Systems
1.5 ton 14 SEER | Complete System $6,000
3 ton 14 SEER | Complete System $6,800
3 ton 20 SEER | Complete System $16,500
5 ton 14 SEER | Complete System $8,600
5 ton 20 SEER | Complete System $19,000

Heat Pump systems
1.5 ton 14 SEER | Complete System $6,700
3 ton 14 SEER | Complete System $8,400
3 ton 20 SEER | Complete System $16,500
5 ton 20 SEER | Complete System $18,500

Electric Heat Systems
1.5 ton 14 SEER | Complete System $5,500
3 ton 14 SEER | Complete System $6,200
3 ton 20 SEER | Complete System $15,700
5 ton 20 SEER | Complete System $18,200

Old leaky duct work can be one of the largest losses of efficiency with your HVAC unit. If you are installing a new system, the duct work should be inspected

Duct repairs can vary greatly, and it is primarily going to depend upon the type of duct system you have. The most efficient duct systems are several times more expensive than one made of primarily flex duct. Replacing the duct work on the typical 1,500 square foot home can range from $600 up to $3,000. (labor not included)

A new flex duct installation complete with a new register box and register grill averages about $100 (labor not included)