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Old 05-24-2010, 10:57 AM   #1
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Central A/C Service Costs


Hi,

Looking for a bit of a sanity test. Our Townhome rental unit required AC service. I normally do a lot of repairs myself, but after a quick check of the filter and system, it was quite clear the system likely needed to be recharged (which likely means it leaks). System is 5 years old. It has a complicated heating system, so I wanted to find a company that could also service the heating system if ever needed. I was limited to only 2 local companies trained on that system - so picked one.

Long story short; guy came out, quoted $1450. to recovery/recharge the system plus cost to fix the leak once he found it. I was shocked - to say the least, but needed to get the job done for the tenants. I was shocked a second time when the final bill was $1622 - this after the leak was found to be simply a loose 'value stem'. Break down of the bill is as follows. These guys operate on a 'fix price' bases for each service item. I found out he hard way - got him to do other plumbing work while he waited on the pressure test and was charged full service price (eg: paid for the labor twice). Guy was at the house for less than 6 hours.

Service Call: $79.
Recovery: $166.
Pressure test w/Nitrogen: $280.
Repair Leak (5 seconds - tighten valve): $89
Vacuum System: $566.
8# R-22: $442.

Now, . . . I have my opinion on this. But would like to know if this is anywhere even close to reasonable for a recovery and recharge of a central AC unit?

I am discussing the bill currently with the HVAC company - and they keep saying this is a 'typical' AC service cost. Find this hard to believe, . . . but would like to know

Thanks in advance,

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Old 05-24-2010, 11:24 AM   #2
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Central A/C Service Costs


Have other companies bid on this list of tasks over the phone. If they refuse just thank them and call the next one.
With the callbacks and no answers and leaving a message it might take 20 calls to get some idea about this. For this many bucks it may be worth it.

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Old 05-24-2010, 02:03 PM   #3
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Since this question doesn't fit the theme of a DIY forum. Moved to Off Topic forum.
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Old 05-24-2010, 07:52 PM   #4
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There's no set pricing. The company I work for charges $24 for a full tank of nitrogen , $14 for reclaim, $20 a lb for R22,$15 for vacuum pump usage and $84 an hour+ $20 trip fee.

Usually takes an hour or less to find a leak with an electronic detector. No need to reclaim refrigerant or use nitro that way. Add another hour max to charge,clean up and fill out a service ticket would have made the bill around $310. That's assuming there was some freon in the system.
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Old 05-24-2010, 10:25 PM   #5
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I charge 500 hundred to find the leak, if I use nitrogen.
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Old 05-25-2010, 09:03 AM   #6
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Thanks guys, . . . the company adjusted the bill by dropping the 'service' & 'repair' fees as I feel they should have. That got the total to our original discussion of ~$1450 for the AC recharge. Better yet, the extra work I had done while the tech was waiting on the pressure test was done at no charge - so I no longer feel like I was paying twice for same guy. I still think this is on the high side, but am OK with this final outcome.

I did try to get quotes from others just to see, . . . it is like pulling teeth I guess to get a rough idea on cost up front before a truck rolls. Everyone wanted to send a tech out, for the service fee, and then provide a quote. If anyone has a rough idea, I sure would appreciate it as a sanity test.

Beenthere: On the $500 for leak test with nitrogen - do you usually use nitrogen as a standard practice, or just for difficult to find leaks? This leak was in the stem and was pretty straight forward to find/fix. Just curious what standard practice is.

Also, I'm sorry you felt you needed to move this thread out of the HVAC area. I know this is a DIY site, . . . but I don't think an AC recharge/leak repair really is a high DIY item given EPA certificate requirements and all (especially on a rental, where others beyond the homeowner are involved).
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Old 05-25-2010, 09:09 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brentp View Post
I did try to get quotes from others just to see, . . . it is like pulling teeth
Sometimes, if you say, "OK, so I'll put you down for a no-bid on this job?" they might get a little more cooperative.
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Old 05-25-2010, 09:41 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brentp View Post
Thanks guys, . . . the company adjusted the bill by dropping the 'service' & 'repair' fees as I feel they should have. That got the total to our original discussion of ~$1450 for the AC recharge. Better yet, the extra work I had done while the tech was waiting on the pressure test was done at no charge - so I no longer feel like I was paying twice for same guy. I still think this is on the high side, but am OK with this final outcome.

I did try to get quotes from others just to see, . . . it is like pulling teeth I guess to get a rough idea on cost up front before a truck rolls. Everyone wanted to send a tech out, for the service fee, and then provide a quote. If anyone has a rough idea, I sure would appreciate it as a sanity test.

Beenthere: On the $500 for leak test with nitrogen - do you usually use nitrogen as a standard practice, or just for difficult to find leaks? This leak was in the stem and was pretty straight forward to find/fix. Just curious what standard practice is.

Also, I'm sorry you felt you needed to move this thread out of the HVAC area. I know this is a DIY site, . . . but I don't think an AC recharge/leak repair really is a high DIY item given EPA certificate requirements and all (especially on a rental, where others beyond the homeowner are involved).
Which still means the discussion of price. Is outside the realm of DIY.
So it didn't belong in a DIY discussion forum. As DIYers don't know what companies charge, or their reasons for those charges.


No, I don't use nitrogen, unless its a harder leak to find. I find most leaks with just an electronic leak detector, and soap bubbles to pin point after the detector shows me the general location.
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Old 05-25-2010, 07:20 PM   #9
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The only times I use nitrogen to leak check for a no cool call is if the condensing unit lost all its charge and spewed oil everywhere.

Had a no cool call today that was a leaking schrader valve but still had refrigerant in the system . Saw oil on the cap first thing . Checked inside and out with a detector and recharged to where it should have been after replacing the valve core. Whole repair took 45 minutes.
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Old 05-25-2010, 07:25 PM   #10
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Schrader leaks are generally easy to find. As long as you keep in mind to check there.

Lots of techs forget to check them.

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