How much is fixing my a/c going to cost?
June 12, 2005 8:32 PM   Subscribe

My home's air conditioner has died. How much is getting it fixed likely to cost me?

It's a combo gas heater/electric air conditioner. It'll still blow cool air indoors (which I hope means the really pricey issues are ruled out), but after about two minutes the outdoor unit will start making a screeching sound not unlike an overheating car radiator. The fan on this outdoor unit doesn't ever start up, so I think this is the part that's failing, and I'm hoping that means this'll be relatively cheap. On the other hand, I came home to its doing this, and I don't know how long it was in that condition before I turned it off. (The house was noticeably warmer than the way I'd left it.) So Lord only knows what damage that did.

I've checked for obstructions to the outside unit in general and the fan in particular (there were none) and I checked the fan's ability to turn easily (it does, with just hitting it with hose water). It simply doesn't turn on its own.

It's a Compak PGE 10 and should only be about 27 months old, should anybody be really familiar with those aspects. I don't think the people who sold me the house left me with any warranty documentation, though.

I'm one of those people who literally think the three most important achievements of the human race are the Constitutional Democratic Republic, putting a human being on the moon, and air conditioning, so I need to call someone this week about getting it fixed, but I'd like to have some idea of how much this is going to set me back while I'm talking to some of these guys. I'm in Knoxville, TN, if that affects things much.

Also, what do I look for to set aside the trustworthy A/C repair guys from the thieves?

posted by kimota to Home & Garden (5 answers total)
Well, if you have your crazy license, you could open up the exterior unit, disconnect the fan, and set up your own fan to blow air over the coils. If it then works fine, you know the fan motor is the only thing broken, which probably shouldn't be more than $100-$200, worst case, and very likely less.
posted by trevyn at 8:46 PM on June 12, 2005

If it's only 27 months old it should still be under warranty. Most of the outside units have at least 5 year warranties. I just replaced my outside unit with a "3 ton" Ruud unit and it cost me about $1,000.

I'd ask friends for recommendations about who to call for service. I'm at the other end of TN so I can't be much help there.
posted by Carbolic at 9:04 PM on June 12, 2005

kimota posted "The fan on this outdoor unit doesn't ever start up, so I think this is the part that's failing, and I'm hoping that means this'll be relatively cheap."

Is it that the fan doesn't start now or that the fan has _never_ ran as far as you know? If it's the latter your compressor is probably hosed. If it was making the screeching noise and the fan was not turning it's again probably the compressor. Condensing units really only have a couple of moving parts. It's a little unusual for a fan that has failed while making a noise to spin easy by hand yet not spin when called for by the condensing unit (the outside part).

Often the cheapest, wisest course if this is the case is a new condensing unit. You save a lot in labour that goes towards the capital cost of the condensing unit. A bit of warning: do not buy the cheapest unit available. I've been out of this too long to make a recomendation but there are forums out there that can help you out.
posted by Mitheral at 7:17 AM on June 13, 2005

The AC should still be under warranty. Go to the website of the manufacturer, they should have an area where you can search for repair people that are specific to that brand, or they'll have a service line where they'll set up an service call and send an authorized person over. Those service people are no more expensive than Bob's AC and Grill repair, so go with whomever the manufacturer recommends. (That way, if they screw it up, the manufacturer will get involved to solve the problem.)
posted by dejah420 at 10:44 AM on June 13, 2005

It took forever to find out the manufacturer (one of the names on the serial number badge was a red herring), but I finally found the parent organization for my device (; it was under warranty, so I only paid labor ($65) to replace a capacitor for starting the compressor motor/fan.
posted by kimota at 11:58 AM on June 21, 2005

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