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Question DetailsAsked on 6/28/2014

How much to replace an evaporator coil in central AC ?

I am wondering what a rough estimate would be for replacing an evaporator coil in a central AC unit that is under warranty. We just had this repair done and it came in at over $1200, which seems very high considering the labor rate is only $100 and it took 3 hours to fix. The repairman did indicate that there was a $250 charge for recovering the freon, tough this sounds ridiculous as well and still doesn't add up to $1200. Anyone had this done recently or know what this repair should cost ?

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24 Answers

1
Vote

Depends on their costs. They must get, pay for and return the warrnty coil, quite an expense. The recovered freon, can actual be an expense to dispose of,if not reused in your system.


$800 to $1000 would not be high in our area, so $1200 may be in line where you are located.

Source: www.bayareacool.com

Answered 3 years ago by BayAreaAC

0
Votes

I think BayAreaAC is on the mark for a total evaporator replacement - I tell people to assume $1000 plus or minus a couple hundred except with high-end units, or if the existing model is no longer available so the ducting has to be modified to fit the new evaporator in which case more like $1250-1500 range. However, that is commonly the range for total cost INCLUDING the coil, at say $600-800 cost. Except for some brands that price their coils way up there - $1000 plus just for the element - I can't see $1000 labor and freon handling cost for a normal coil replacement, so sounds quite high to me. Especially the $250 freon replacement- I asked my go-to HVAC guy and he said for under 10 pounds he charges $65 for recovery (not replacement if it leaked out).


Perhaps BayAreaAC could verify if his estimate considered that this was a free replacment unit (I presume free if under warranty, or was it pro-rated ?), or if he thinking complete package cost including a new evaporator.


This does NOT include dealing with electrostatic air cleaner siamese twinned evaporators if the air cleaner has to be removed too, which can add a hundred dollars or two in labor. My opinion - the twinned units are dumb - have to take both out and apart to clean either, and too easy to damage one working on the other. Should just be mounetd in individual slots 6-12 inches apart in the ducting.


Course, you realize this is a bit late to be asking for price ranges - for major repairs you should have gotten several bids BEFORE starting the work.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

1
Vote

Thanks for the responses. I do realize I am late in asking, but will try to fight the bill if I can get some estimates that are significantly less.


The contractor maintained that he charges $250 to recover the freon because the machine is so costly. He ended up putting the recovered freon back in, so there was no disposal cost for him.


I realize that I probably should have gotten a formal estimate, but he indicated that since the coil was under warranty, the only costs would be 3-4 hours of labor, so I was figuring less than $500. As a courtesy, you would think he would tell the customer if a repair was going to be $1200+. The other problem I had was that he didn't itemize anything on the bill - he said this was done because it was an "install" and not a "repair".

Answered 3 years ago by blm74

1
Vote

I would go back to him and complain - tell him he said 3-4 hours (would help if you found out his hourly rate first somehow) and you expected to be charged for 3-4 hours only.


On the machine - the smaller machines cost about $500-1000 complete - the larger ones for big systems and very fast recovery cot about $3-5,000. Obviously the $250 freon recovery charge includes presumably both labor and tools - so lets say $50 range labor leaves about $200 on the machine charge - so if a small unit (hand-carried, about size of a portable defibrilator or mid-size microwave) then he intends to pay it off in 3-5 uses ? Even if a big machine (about the size of a substantial welder or close to dishwasher size, on a cart) then 15-25 uses to pay off - that is unreasonable - even that would be probably a couple of weeks to payoff for a machine that should last at least a couple of years.


Sounds like you have basis to argue - but besure to get signed invoice showing PAID IN FULL before you are done, so he can't come back and slap a lien on you without it being fraud.


Lesson learned - NEVER proceed without at least a written estimate (which in most states cannot be exceeded without PRIOR approval), and preferably a firm bid.


BTW - went to a couple of contractor and consumer blogs on this item - consensus of recent costs for replacing conventional evaporator, complete WITH coil, generally in the $800-1100 range, so that makes his charge WITHOUT evaporator look to be about 100% high by comparison, unless you are in a place with crazy high prices like SFO/Silicon Valley or highrise or upscale NYC or Boston.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

0
Votes

Thanks again. He had done a prior repair on the AC for us, so I knew his labor rate was $100/hr before he started the job. He basically told me that the recovery machine was expensive and didn't last that long (said he was on his third one), which is why there was the $250 charge. But I'm sure he had a smaller unit, not the larger one. Which makes that charge really look bogus. Is it typical to charge the customer for use of a recovery machine on top of labor charges ?


Lesson learned about getting an estimate ...


FYI, I am in New York state, about 1 hour north of NYC.

Answered 3 years ago by blm74

0
Votes

Some contractors bury all their tools and equipment cost in the overhead portion of their labor rate.


However, for specialty equipment that is used only on some jobs, then it is not uncommon to charge a usage charge for the machine. Concrete companies commonly do this for concrete sawing to pay for the cost of the machine and especially for the wear on the diamond blades, excavation and landscape companies for bobcats and such, painters sometimes do this to pay for the cost of scaffolding (which in many cases is rented anyway), HVAC contractors for gas recovery pumps like in your case, excavation companies for use of a pup trailer behind the dump truck, etc. So the charge itself is not out of the norm - just the amount. My go-to HVAC guy does not charge for the machine - just a flat fee for the gas recovery that includes the machine and the labor, but in our area (which does not have a lot of A/C in houses) almost everything is still Freon so almost every job requires its use, unless all the gas already leaked out.


From the labor rate you gave, around $500 sounds like a reasonable charge if it took 3-4 hours to fix. Ask him if he made a math error - or maybe added in the cost of a new evaporator, forgetting it was a warranty replacement. OR maybe (if he did the warranty claim) there was a pro-rated charge on the evaporator so it was actually far from a free replacement - ask for clarification and itemization.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

2
Votes

I finally got the itemized bill for the evaporator coil replacement. It breaks down as follows :


Labor $900

Freon Recovery $200

Vacuum $50

Misc Charges $50


The job took 2.5 hours to complete and his labor rate is $100. Even if we round up to 3 hours, which I assume is normal, that is still only $300. Do you think there could be 6 hours worth of labor to just get the replacement coil ? And if so, would you charge the same labor rate ($100) for a secretary to do this ? Still seems shady to me ...

Answered 2 years ago by blm74

1
Vote

Hello Friend,


We are shopping around for new AC units and have found this business to be somewhat of a raquet(no surprise here,) I would consider filing a complaint with your state attorney generals office(you can do this online).Maybe they can get you some of your money back.It sounds like you were taken advantage of. And you are entitled to a itemized bill; regardless of how this shmuck is trying to justify his con. I would be sure to write every detail in the complaint,so that they know what this crumb is trying to pull on decent consumers. Best of luck my friend. We all seem to learn the hard way when it comes to home repairs:-(

Answered 2 years ago by conedconsumer

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I would get his labor rate in writing, then file your complaint..

Answered 2 years ago by conedconsumer

1
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My home warranty was paying the so called AC company $1050 to fix our evaporator coil . $700 labor and $325 for parts . They came back and ask for us to pay $760 more for there this and that fees . $195 floating switch $45 drain pipe which there is already a drain going from were unit is to outside the house . $95 copper fee and a $425 reconstruction fee . Not counting the $79 service fee . They wanted to charge for freon in old unit to . But because it all leaked out there was no charge . So I took the $1050 pay off and found me a company that really cares . Part was $325 and he charged me $350 to install with no this and that fee . Do the math I was able to have AC fixed and put money in my pocket . Dont let people take your money .

Answered 2 years ago by bpatterson

0
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We just had our 18+ year old central A/C coil replaced last week and the full cost including parts and labor cost us $1200.00. If they charged you $1200.00 for just labor, you got ripped off. It also included 5 lbs of refrigerant on a 2 ton unit. (Which usually cost $50.00 a pound) We live in CT, one of the most expensive places to live. About 4 years ago we had the condenser unit replaced, it cost almost 3 grand. So now we are all set for another 18+ years, fingers crossed.......

Answered 1 year ago by mrrok01

0
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First remember Hvac is a profession and takes a lot of over head via license and tools to complete. My basic charge would be 1200 with me providing coil. Warranty is different of course. Be carful filing complaint as you probably signed ticket which ties you to that price. When we install equipment there is no hourly rate. It is a flat rate. Sometimes it takes two hours and we win a little. Sometimes it take all day and we loose a little. you get what you pay for.

Answered 1 year ago by Jlgts3

1
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Is this guy an authorized retailer of that same brand you have the warranty for? You should call them and ask whether $1200 sounds correct. Perhaps they can have a talk with him, especially if you start making posts online about how you had to pay $1200 to have x-brand's evaporator replaced under warranty.

Answered 1 year ago by superlarry

0
Votes

This would depend on the type of coil. I can tell you I paid $900 to have my entire coil replaced, the freon recovered, and it included a 1 month follow up check. I have an inexpensive 12 seer system in a 1260 sq ft condo. I used Gagne in Roswell, GA.

Answered 1 year ago by Guest_9647259

0
Votes

My home owner warranty company told me that I have to pay for non-cover costs (which it was a surprise to me) $850.

The other option will be for them to issue a check addressed directly to me for the amount of $430 which includes the costs of evaporator coil itself and the labor to install exclusively the evaportaror coil. They explained to me that if I want to look for the part and labor myself it will be way higher but they only pay this amount because they can find very very very cheap prices in the market due to the volume in purchases they handle every year.


The lady who insisted in selling me the home owner warranty was not clear about this.


It may be cheaper now using the home owner warranty but still I was not expecting to pay $850. I was expecting to pay only the $65 deductible. Now I have to pay $850 plus $65 deductible = $910. Not funny

Answered 11 months ago by alfomartin

0
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I live in Phoenix and I was just charged $1600.00 to replace the evaporator coil. refrigerant, vacuum and labor. Seems really high to me also. I've been on internet searching prices and it doesn't add up to this atrocious amount. For 8 lb. refrigerant they're charging $15.00 a lb ($90.00), coil price on internet goes for about $490.00 high end, vacuum out system while they're at lunch ???, and labor. They arrived at 11:00 a.m., went to lunch and are almost finished. So say 3 hours job. Seems they are charging me about about $325.00 an hour for labor. Can't be angry with the service guys, they're just doing a job to pay their bills like any of us. I'm filing a complaint with Registrar of Contractors. This people think we have no other choice if we want to keep cool. I'm not settling for it.

Answered 11 months ago by croussin

0
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It also depends on where the air handler is located if it's in a closet or attic then when he gets the coil it has to have the TXV soldered to the coil before it can be installed in the air handler. Then it has to have both lines soldered to the coil. The pressure test must be done to ensure no leaks and then put on a vacuum till it's below atmospheric pressure. Also you should always replace the filter drier when you open the system but once all that is done you would fill it up with freon anywhere from 8 all the way to 15 pounds of freon depending on size of the unit. Then you have to balance the system's pressures to make sure the superheat and subcool alright. So even though it may look like 3-4 hours don't forget about finding the leak and all the preparations before. Labor depending on if it's in the Attic or if it's in the closet is about $400- $600 then you have to add in the freon by the pound and it's whatever they charge. Good luck

Answered 10 months ago by AC123

0
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Not trying to make matters any worse but there is a dirty secret for "freon recovery"


This works for replacing an evaporating coil, "freon recovery" is shutting off one valve at the condensing unit and letting the compressor pump down and then store all the freon in the condensing unit and the second valve is then shut off.


The evaporator coil ischanged, then a vacuum is pulled and maintained for a period of time. After everything passes, the valve is opened releasing the stored freon into the rest of the system, the unit is placed into operation and checked for proper function.

Answered 6 months ago by SparksBR

0
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$1200 seems to be the magic number with evaporator coil replacement!!! ugh....

Answered 2 months ago by Ldel2017

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That actually seems much better than what my repair guy esitmated for same exact prob (evaporator coil replacememt). It is under warrantee and its only 4 years old!. $2125 is what estimated including part and labor. I am shopping around ofcourse but most places want $99 to come out to give you an estimate. Any advice?

Answered 1 month ago by srafiee

0
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Replacing the coil with home warranty company and I was told that my out of pocket cost payable to the technician would be $1810. Here are the itemized:


8 Pounds of freon r-22 at 80.00 per pound for $640
Float switch- 150.00
Mastic-165.00
emergency pan-285.00
2 Plenum-570.00
Are these reasonable?

Answered 6 days ago by pete2017

0
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You can find a large number of similar questions with answers in the Home > HVAC link under Browse Projects, at lower left.


Yes that is high cost if the coil is provided by the manufacturer under warranty - but that is in the normal range (but probably toward higher end with no-charge coil) - coil replacement is a major money makear for HVAC companies. If he quoted you hourly rate plus gas recovery then you could hold him to that - though you did not say how much the makeup/replacement gas cost - that could be the difference because some HVAC contractors are charging $100/lb or more for gas even though their wholesale cost is in the $15-40/lb range for most common gases.


The $250 charge for gas recovery is high for that alone - though some vendors wrapthe recovery and refilling and pressure adjustment at the refill into that one charge, which would not then be out of line.

Answered 5 days ago by LCD

0
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Pete2017 - sounds out of whack to me - that is in the upper end of the normal range INCLUDING the coil. Each of the prices you list look high to me - you can find a number of similar questions about coil replacement costs in the Home > HVAC link under Browse Projects, at lower left.


Unfortunately, many of the contractors for home warranty companies (and box stores) are ones who cannot get enough work on their own repultation so they take the low rates those contracts provide to get a steady workload, then (with or without the knowledge of the warranty company) try to upsell or add work items to crank the bill up. In many cases they are out and out scammers - taking advantage o the fact they have their foot in the door with the warranty so they say there is a lot of additional cost needed to do the job, out of your pocket.


Basically, if the ORIGINAL contract (not some "guidelines" or "covered items list" provided after the fact) does not exclude those items, everything needed to get you back to a comparable operating A/C should be covered by the warranty - though will be like pulling teeth and you may have to threaten to file a fraud complaint against them to get any action, because these warranty companies basically make their profit by refusing to cover legitimate covered items.

Answered 5 days ago by LCD

0
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LCD, thanks for your response. I should have mentioned that the system is a 20-year old American Standard. I would have replaced the whole system if it is not in an attic above a 2nd story house, very tide. One may need to bust the ceiling the replace it. That is why only the coil is being replaced. Searching on the internet the only replacement coil I found was from Amazon for $1380 https://www.amazon.com/American-Stand...


The warranty company covers the coil, but I doubt it will be this one. I don't if they are intalling a coil of similiar size and need to modify something as they listed Mastic ($165) and 2 Plenum ($570). Are those items necessary for a coil of exacrt size?


The warranty company covers recharging the system, but not the freon (covers only $10/lb and the installer charges $90/lb).


The Warranty company also give me a cash out option and I am waiting to see how much will be the amount. The system is a 3-ton American Stanard with heat pump and the number I found is TWE036C140A1. It is old but does the replacement coil really cost that much?


I am weighing my option and probably need to make a decision soon, thanks.

Answered 5 days ago by pete2017




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