Central Air Conditioner and Heat Pump Tune-Up, Seasonal Maintenance Costs
How Much does Annual Central AC Maintenance Cost?
$30 – $90 each
Average Cost Estimate
$100 – $140 each
$145 – $190 each
|Services Offered||Clean & Tune||Clean & Tune||Clean, Tune-up + Perks|
|Time of Year||Slow Season||Any Season||Any Season|
|Access to Equipment||Easy||Easy to Difficult||Easy to Difficult|
|Number of Units||One or More||One or More||One Only|
|Part of a Service Plan||Yes, or promo rate||No or Yes||No or Yes|
|Local Competition||High||Low to Moderate||Low to Moderate|
|Local Cost of Living||Low to Average||Average to High||Average to High|
Did you Know? All major HVAC brands require you to have your air conditioner maintained on a regular basis. If you don’t, the company might not honor a warranty claim on the unit.
The wording in the Lennox warranty is similar to most others. According to Lennox, “Proper maintenance of your HVAC system is required for continued warranty coverage. Lennox recommends a twice-yearly service and maintenance plan.”
Check your warranty and it’s specific warranty conditions for the fine print, to assure you properly care for your AC unit, or you may risk losing warranty coverage.
Overview of Central Air Conditioner Maintenance
This is a more complicated issue than it would seem on the surface.
First, AC maintenance and tune-ups are not clearly defined, so you have to know exactly what will be done during the tune-up or maintenance appointment. It’s the only way to accurately compare companies and their AC tune up costs.
Typical services should include:
- Cleaning the condensing and evaporator coils.
- Checking and replacing insulation on the refrigerant line leading from the unit to the wall of your home as needed.
- Removing the fan top and cleaning debris, insect nests and other matter from the inside of the unit.
- Cleaning the condensate pan and line, and flushing out debris that might cause blockage and leaks.
- Checking refrigerant levels, looking for leaks and charging the system if needed (at additional cost).
- Checking electrical components and tighten connections.
- Adjusting the blower wheel for optimal efficiency.
- Lubricating moving parts as needed and directed by the manufacturer.
Secondly, does the maintenance or tune-up come with perks? Are they worth it?
For example, an HVAC contractor in Georgia offers AC maintenance at a cost on the high end of the spectrum. It’s a full-service AC tune-up plus it includes discounts on repairs (15%) and new equipment (5%).
Homeowners with older equipment might prefer to pay more for the added benefits.
If you have a newer central air conditioner, it makes more sense to go with a tune-up that doesn’t offer the repair and replacement perks.
Finally, beware of low-cost AC tune-ups. Some reputable companies use low-cost tune-ups to gain new customers, and they put their best foot forward by doing a thorough maintenance job. If you get a deal like that, you’ve done well.
The concern with cheap air conditioner tune-ups is that unscrupulous AC contractors might use them with the intent of making a lot of money off you. Once they are cleaning your AC, they “find” an expensive repair issue that they pressure you to have fixed. Or they suggest you replace your AC entirely.
It’s important to get second opinions and multiple estimates in cases like that. Once you do, hire a contractor with a proven reputation for integrity.
Annual Tune-up Cost Factors
Apart from potential low-cost scams, here are factors central air conditioner tune up cost.
- Tune-up Checklist – The more maintenance is done, the higher the cost might be. See the list above for the most common checklist inspection and maintenance items. If you want a thorough tune up, you might have to pay more for it, especially during peak season.
- Time of Year – During slow seasons, which vary from region to region, AC companies offer deals on maintenance and tune ups to keep their crews busy. One company puts it this way, “The fee for a tune-up is seasonal.”
- Perks Added – Expect to pay on the upper end of the cost spectrum for AC maintenance that includes discounts on repairs or replacements or offers similar benefits.
- Number of Units – Expect a 25% to 50% break on additional condensing units. One local company charges $159 for the first AC and $99 for the second, nearly a 40% discount.
- AC and Air Handler Location – The majority of condensing units are on the ground. If yours is on the roof, expect a higher tune-up cost. The same might be true if the furnace or air handler is in the attic or a cramped crawlspace.
- Cost of Living – If prices are high for consumer goods in your area, as they are in the Northeast, Northwest and other major metropolitan areas, your costs might be on the high end of the range.
Whether you Have a Maintenance & Service Plan – HVAC companies push annual maintenance plans that include one or two inspections. They cost more than some charge for tune-ups, but most include discounts on repairs and new equipment. Since your system’s warranty probably requires annual maintenance, they’re worth considering.
In most cases, HVAC companies will service the other parts of your split system at the same time. This may add to your cost. Gas furnace maintenance is treated completely differently than a cooling system, since there are different components to deal with.
Permits and Inspection Costs
- $0 – A permit is not required for AC cleaning, tune-up and maintenance.
Tune Up or Maintenance Completion Time
- 1-2 hours per unit | A thorough cleaning and tune-up takes at least an hour. If your HVAC system hasn’t been cleaned in a few years, then a two-hour appointment is not unusual.
DIY or Hire a Pro
Handy homeowners can do most of what a pro does in terms of cleaning and maintenance. There are many online tutorials like this one from a Missouri power company.
What most cannot do is adequately check the refrigerant charge and in most cases, clear the condensate drain lines without special tools. Also, a refrigerant handling license is required to add refrigerant to the system.
In addition, recall what we said about your central AC warranty requiring annual maintenance. You might have to verify you had the maintenance done to have a claim honored. Receipts from professional maintenance will do that.
For these reasons, we recommend professional maintenance and tune-up of your air conditioning.
Central AC Maintenance Costs from Around the Web
Compare these costs from around the web.
|Costimates||$130||$50 – $190|
|Fixr||$95||$50 – $150|
|Ace Home Service||$150||$50 – $200|
|Thumbtack||$95||$59 – $138|
|HomeAdvisor||$90||$80 – $100|
|Suggest a Cost Comparison from Another Website|