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Why Is Replacing My AC Compressor So Expensive?

Jul. 28, 2021
An AC compressor
An AC compressor

Several pieces and parts work together to make your air conditioner run, but the most expensive component is the AC compressor. If you need to replace a compressor in the New Jersey area, you could be shelling out anywhere between $1,500 to $3,000

Yes, we know that’s a rather hefty price tag for one AC part. Naturally, you’re probably wondering why replacing a compressor is so expensive. 

That’s where we come in. To help you understand why an AC compressor replacement costs so much, we’ll answer the following questions:
  1. What does an air compressor do?
  2. How long does an AC compressor replacement take?
  3. What factors affect the price of an AC compressor?
  4. Should you just replace the entire AC unit?

Think you need a new AC compressor in New Jersey? Worried about the cost? Here at Air Experts, we’re happy to diagnose the issue and give you AC repair options and fair, upfront pricing.
 
 

What does an air compressor do?

To understand why replacing the compressor is the price it is, let’s go over its function. There are two main parts to every air conditioning system: an inside unit and an outside unit. The outside unit houses your air compressor, which is the heart of your AC system. Your compressor pumps refrigerant (aka the substance that removes heat from your home’s air) throughout the AC system.

In short, you wouldn’t have cool air in your home without an air compressor.

If there’s something wrong with your compressor, you may notice several red flags, such as:
  • Your AC isn’t cooling your home
  • There’s a slamming noise when your AC shuts off
  • Your circuit breaker keeps tripping
If you have a bad AC compressor, you generally can’t repair it. Instead, you need to replace it. Why? AC compressors have an airtight seal, so field technicians can’t just open them up and repair a malfunctioning component within.

How long does an AC compressor replacement take?

There’s a good amount of labor that goes into replacing the AC compressor. When all is said and done, replacing a compressor can take anywhere from 4 to 8+ hours.

Why does it take so long to replace one part? An AC compressor replacement is a tricky business. It involves a number of intricate steps that require a licensed HVAC technician to undertake, such as:
  1. Removing all of the refrigerants from the system 
  2. Removing the bad compressor Soldering in the new compressor
  3. Replacing other smaller parts if needed (e.g., contactor/capacitor)
  4. Putting all the refrigerant back into the system

What factors affect the price of an AC compressor?

Not all AC compressor replacements cost the same. There are a few factors that affect your bottom line, including:
  1. Whether your compressor is under warranty
  2. The size of your AC system
  3. Your compressor’s speed
  4. Who you hire for the job

Factor #1: Whether your compressor is under warranty

AC systems typically come with a limited parts warranty that lasts anywhere from 10 to 15 years after purchase.

If your compressor is under warranty, you won’t need to pay for the new part—you’ll only be responsible for covering the cost of labor. 

The good news is that most limited parts warranties cover the compressor. The potentially bad news is that many things can void your warranty, like failing to register your system with the manufacturer, repairing your AC with off-brand parts or failing to get your AC annually maintained. 

You can determine if your compressor is still under warranty by gathering your unit’s model and serial number (you can find this on your outdoor unit) then providing this information to the manufacturer (e.g., by going to their website). 
 

Factor #2: The size of your AC system

Your AC system’s size can impact the installation price tag of it as a whole. It also affects the cost of your AC compressor replacement. 

The larger your AC system, the more expensive your compressor will be since a bigger compressor is needed to circulate the refrigerant throughout the system. If you’re unsure what size AC you have, find the model number on your outdoor unit and enter it into the manufacturer’s website. Or, ask a trusted HVAC professional. 
 

Factor #3: Your compressor’s speed

How many speeds does your compressor have? The industry measures the speeds in "stages."

Compressors with multiple stages provide greater energy efficiency and comfort than a compressor with only one stage, which comes at a price. The more stages a compressor has, the more expensive the upfront cost of its replacement. 

Take a look at the different stages your compressor may have (ordered from least expensive to most expensive):
  • Single-stage compressor: One speed (e.g., high)
  • Two-stage compressor: Two speeds (e.g., high and low)
  • Variable-speed compressor: Unlimited speeds

Factor #4: Who you hire for the job

The higher the skill and experience of the professional you hire, the more they typically charge for a compressor replacement.

Replacing an AC compressor is not the time to cut corners with the most vital part of your system. Make sure the HVAC technician you choose is licensed and insured in the state of New Jersey. Also, see if they offer a labor warranty of at least one year.

To get started, take a look at some testimonials (e.g., Google reviews) to hear about other homeowners’ experiences with the company.
 

Should you just replace the entire AC unit?

If your AC compressor needs replacing, you might be wondering if you should just replace your entire AC unit. After all, bad AC compressors are often due to the wear and tear that comes with an aging unit.

Consider replacing your AC system as the more cost-effective option if:
  1. Your air conditioner is 10+ years old
  2. The compressor isn’t under warranty
  3. Your AC needs frequent repairs
To further help you decide between replacing the compressor and your AC system as a whole, compare the costs:

Need a new AC compressor in New Jersey? Contact Air Experts

When your air compressor goes, it’s time to go with the pros. For fast and reliable AC repair services in Monmouth or Ocean County, look no further than Air Experts.

Whether it’s 3 p.m. or 3 a.m., give us a call at (732) 681-9090 for live help. And if we can’t troubleshoot the problem over the phone, we’ll set up an appointment, diagnose the problem and go over your options with you.