How Not to Get Ripped off on Your Air Conditioning Repair

Updated on March 7, 2019
Cre8tor profile image

Dan has been in the HVAC industry for 23 years with experience ranging from installation and service to sales and distribution.

Air Conditioning Basics

If you're having work done on your air conditioning system you may be like many homeowners out the dark. Like many specialty areas of service, air conditioning is something that most people know nothing about and therefore feel vulnerable when having service work done. You want to feel confident that your money is being spent wisely and that the work you're receiving is needed, right? Well the best way to feel more confident about these things is to educate yourself.

The following information will not make you a professional HVAC technician but it can help you to understand some of the basics of air conditioning and somewhat makes sense of what you're being told by your service provider. The result will be the feeling of confidence that you're not being taken to the cleaners.

Get To Know Your A/C

The condensing unit is very sensitive to dust and dirt build up because it needs the airflow to operate properly and efficiently.
The condensing unit is very sensitive to dust and dirt build up because it needs the airflow to operate properly and efficiently. | Source

1 - Regular Maintenance

Maintaining your HVAC system is a must. Particularly when dealing with your A/C system, maintenance is of the utmost importance. Quite often, air conditioning service calls are related to lack of maintenance. The good news is, much of this can be done yourself.

Air conditioning is very temperamental. Dirt building up on the filter, outdoor unit and in the evaporator coil located on top of the furnace is often very problematic to your system. This is because the air conditioning system operates based almost entirely on a pressure/temperature relationship.

The airflow passing through the furnace fan, over the evaporator coil and over the condenser coils plays a major part in this relationship. If dirt is building up in these areas, the airflow is then restricted causing higher temperatures and thus resulting is higher pressures. The end result is the refrigerant running through the system in "states" that aren't intended for the system.

There is a whole lot of science involved in the process of refrigerant converting from gas to liquid and so on to provide the proper de-humidification for your home. I don't want to overwhelm you with this information so just understand that regular cleaning of your system is very important. It will extend the life of your parts, increase the efficiency of operation and save you the discomfort and cost of simple breakdowns that could've been avoided by cleaning.

Keep Your Refrigerant

As useful as this tool is in air conditioning, it is a refrigerant thief.
As useful as this tool is in air conditioning, it is a refrigerant thief. | Source

2 - The "Charging Your System" Mistake

Often we are told that air conditioning systems are in need of charging. This may be true in some cases but is often misdiagnosed or the leak is not repaired.

Understand that an air conditioning system is a sealed system that is to be extensively leak checked upon installation. Once the system has been checked, it should not leak unless something has impacted the unit. (broken part or seal, heavy damage by a storm or collision, etc...)

The thought that an air conditioning system just needs to be recharged every so often is a myth.

Though it's a good idea to check the charge of the system, especially if you didn't have it installed, don't do this on a regular basis. If the system is low, ask that the leak be found and repaired. If you don't, you'll be looking at a yearly bill to charge the system and aren't doing the environment any favors (meaning the environment in and out of your home depending on where the leak is).

Once the unit is said to be leak free, don't have the pressure checked unless there is a problem with the system again. Every time the gauges are hooked to your system, it is inevitable that refrigerant is stolen from it. Over time, this will add up and you will end up needing a charge.

Again, the pressure/temperature relationship of an air conditioning system is very finicky. Slight adjustments to either of these 2 factors can result in problems with the system.

Losing Refrigerant

How many times have you been told to "top off" your A/C's refrigerant?

See results

Air Conditioning Tip

If your A/C is humming but the outdoor fan is not spinning, it may very well be the capacitor. Without getting into the service panel, you can take a small stick and try to give the fan a push. If the fan starts to spin with your "boost", it's almost gauranteed that the capacitor is bad. The good news is replacing a capacitor is easy.

3 - It's Often an Electrical Problem

Air conditioning repairs are often electrical. Three very common problems are blown fuses in the service panel located outside near the condensing unit, tripped breakers at the main electrical panel and blown capacitors. Checking these items first could potentially save you a service call or at least provide confidence that you know what the service should be.

Listen to the outdoor it humming? If not, it's quite likely that your not getting power to the unit as a result of a blown fuse or tripped breaker.

Is it humming but not running? It may very well be the capacitor. The capacitor is a small silver part in the service panel that is usually round or oval shaped with a dozen prongs on top. Do not attempt to mess with the part but visually you should be able to see if the top is "mushroomed". This is a tell-tale sign that it is blown and at least you know when your service technician shows up, what the repair is likely to be.

A/C Electrical

The service disconnect has your fuses inside.
The service disconnect has your fuses inside. | Source
The condenser operates at 220V. Be sure to pull the disconnect before getting in here.
The condenser operates at 220V. Be sure to pull the disconnect before getting in here. | Source
Pulling the disconnect cuts power to the condenser.
Pulling the disconnect cuts power to the condenser. | Source

4 - If Something Is Wrong It Will Let You Know

Aside from shutting down, air conditioning will usually let you know something is wrong before there is a shut down that is not electrically related. Routinely check the copper lines in your system for frost or ice. If you see this, your air conditioner is telling you that something is wrong and you may be able to have service performed before it shuts down completely or the problem becomes worse.

Air Conditioning Is Complex Science in a Simple Package

Air conditioning is a simple system that uses complex science but this basic knowledge is what's most important to you as a homeowner and can protect you from allowing certain mistakes to be made.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2012 Dan Reed


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      9 months ago

      am an ac tech an we charge a service call to diagnose you all ac system i have found that systems do have a small leak in valves outside condenser this makes the system be low on Freon many times my tech replace those valves and the issue gets resolved they very small valves also i charge hourly plus the service charge is on the invoice of all my clients remember i had to send a tech over pay him hourly wage i have to put gas on that van truck and miscellaneous parts

    • profile image


      10 months ago

      If the ac blower is out will it still blow?

    • profile image


      10 months ago

      The fan is no working .. Am need onther

    • profile image


      11 months ago

      Hello there,

      I don't know what is wrong with my air conditioner, it seems working, but not enough coming out of any registers ( set to 69F)

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Thanks Cre8tor for the info. The posts in this string are very educational. Thanks again

    • lyns profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      Excellent and very informed hub on the AC I wondered why my AC wasn't working properly this hub have given me some great insight thanks for sharing. 7101411a lyns

    • Cre8tor profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Reed 

      6 years ago

      Ice2rink - Not usually but yes it's possible and yes there are overloads in place. It would be hard for me to confirm or deny any suspicions that his work and diagnosis were lacking without knowing how he drew his conclusions and what tests he ran. That said, there are often problems that a tech sees and repairs while "stressed" components aren't as detectable thus leaving him looking bad when they show their heads a few days later. There are also problems that should've been detected but weren't because the tech hurried and didn't go as far as he should've in his diagnosis. I'm sorry but I would have to have a long conversation with the tech and you to see if you were shafted or just a victim of circumstances which is what I believe you're looking to find out.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      If a capacitor fails and the system isn't shut down is the compressor in danger of burning up? I had a system diagnosed with a bad capacitor and fan motor - tech changed them out. A week later it stopped blowing cold air and tech diagnosed that heat from system inning without the fan cooked the expansion valves and compressor. Wouldn't there be some type of preventive overload breaker to protect the system from this?

    • furniturez profile image


      7 years ago from Washington

      Regular maintenance is extremely important, just like a car, if you don't stay on top of the upkeep it's not going to last!

    • Cre8tor profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Reed 

      8 years ago

      Anytime summerberrie!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks, Cre8tor!

    • Vincent de Jong profile image

      Vincent de Jong 

      8 years ago

      Great hub. Very informative. Voting up!

    • Cre8tor profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Reed 

      8 years ago

      Thank you wayseeker. I'm glad it's helpful. There is a lot of science that I tried not to get into but for yourself or anyone else...I am open to questions that may give further explanation of this information.

    • wayseeker profile image


      8 years ago from Colorado

      This is marvelous information in an area I know next to nothing about. I just call when it doesn't work. Doing some simple self maintenance is a great idea as I do that with some other things around the house, but not the AC. I love the link to your other hub on this and I'll keep this one in my personal bookmarks so I can give it a try when I have time.

      Thanks so much for saving me some money!



    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)