Interior

How Much Does a Home AC Recharge Cost?

Recharging an AC system ensures it’s running at peak performance. A home AC recharge costs between $200 and $500, with a national average price of $300.
AC Recharge Cost
Photo: istockphoto.com

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn More ›

Highlights

  • A home AC unit recharge has a typical cost range of $200 to $500, with a national average cost of $300.
  • The total cost can vary based on several factors, including the type and size of the unit, the type of refrigerant it requires, and the cost of labor.
  • Homeowners may need to have their home AC unit recharged if it is running but not cooling the house or if they notice increased energy bills, hissing or bubbling sounds, or the presence of frost.
  • Recharging an AC unit is a job for a professional, not a homeowner; in fact, the EPA regulates who can handle refrigerants because of potential safety hazards.
Need to recharge your home AC?
Leave it to a pro. Get free, no-commitment project estimates from top-rated services near you.
+

A home AC recharge restores the cooling capacity of an air-conditioning system. The process involves removing the existing refrigerant, inspecting the system for leaks, and recharging the system with new refrigerant. Failure to recharge an AC unit can result in damage to the compressor, and eventually the unit may not work at all. Repairs can be expensive, which is why recharges are an important part of AC maintenance. Recharges also help systems run more efficiently, which can help save money on energy bills.

According to HomeAdvisor, the national average cost of an AC recharge is $300. Factors such as unit type, unit size, and refrigerant type can influence the final price, though most AC recharge costs fall between $200 and $500. This guide aims to share tips on how to calculate a home AC recharge cost, along with advice to help homeowners find the best professional for the job.

Factors in Calculating Home AC Recharge Cost

Home air-conditioning recharge costs depend on a variety of factors, including the type of refrigerant, size and age of the unit, labor costs, and whether additional services are required. Homeowners will want to be aware of the following factors when budgeting for an AC unit recharge as part of their regular maintenance routine.

Unit Type

Different types of AC units have different components, making some more complex to service than others. As a result, some unit types are more expensive to recharge than others.

Window AC units are typically the least expensive to recharge since they are the smallest and simplest type of AC unit. The cost to recharge a mini-split system can be a bit more expensive since there are often multiple units to service. Central AC units are typically the most expensive to recharge, as they have more components than other unit types and require more refrigerant. Each unit type and the average cost to recharge is discussed in more detail in a section below.

Unit Size

The cost to recharge home AC units depends heavily on a unit’s size. The larger the unit, the more it’s likely to cost to recharge since it will require more refrigerant than a smaller unit.

AC sizes are measured in tons, with refrigerant capacities measured in pounds. While it’s true that larger units have bigger refrigerant capacities, not every service requires full refrigerant replacement. Some units may only need a small top-off of recharge. Full replacement costs between $100 to $1,800. The following chart shows how much it costs to empty a unit’s refrigerant and replace it based on full capacity.

AC Unit SizeRefrigerant Capacity in PoundsReplacement Cost Range
1 ton2 to 4$100 to $350
2 tons4 to 8$150 to $700
3 tons6 to 12$250 to $1,200
4 tons8 to 16$350 to $1,500
5 tons10 to 20$500 to $1,800

Refrigerant Type

A home AC Freon recharge cost can vary depending on the refrigerant type. Different refrigerants have varying costs based on their availability and environmental impact. For example, R22 (also known as Freon) is an older refrigerant being phased out because of its harmful environmental impact. As a result, it has become very expensive and may not be available in some areas.

At the same time, newer and more environmentally friendly refrigerants, such as R-410A, tend to cost more due to their higher efficiency and lower environmental impact. The following chart can help guide homeowners on refrigerant costs by type for materials only.

Refrigerant TypeCost Per Pound
R-134A$4 to $5
R-407C$5 to $7
R-421A$6 to $9
NU-22$7 to $8
R-427A$10 to $11
R-410A$12 to $25
R22$50 to $80

Freon Disposal

Freon disposal is an important cost factor to consider when recharging an AC unit. Freon (also known as R22) is a refrigerant that is harmful to the environment. In order to protect the environment, strict rules are in place governing the disposal of Freon.

Homeowners must pay a Freon removal fee when replacing an AC unit or adding a different type of coolant. This service, which is a typical component of HVAC services, enables homeowners to change the coolants in their AC units safely without worrying about potential safety risks. Freon disposal costs vary depending on the location and the amount of Freon that needs to be disposed of. Generally, the cost ranges from $30 to $100. Homeowners can expect to pay around $2.50 per pound of Freon to dispose of it.

Labor

Labor costs can significantly impact the average cost to recharge home AC systems. The cost of labor varies by location and experience level of the contractor. Generally speaking, contractors in more rural areas are likely to charge less than contractors servicing more populated cities. Additionally, more experienced contractors may charge a higher hourly rate than less experienced contractors.

The number of billable labor hours it takes to complete a recharge service can vary depending on the type of unit, its condition, and if any additional repairs are required. A contractor may charge a flat fee for the entire service or an hourly rate that includes the cost of labor and any necessary equipment. Homeowners can expect to pay an hourly labor rate of $50 to $150 for an HVAC professional.

AC Recharge Cost
Photo: istockphoto.com

Additional Costs and Considerations

When considering the cost to recharge AC home systems, there are several additional factors that must be taken into account. For example, testing for leaks and unit repairs can increase the cost of a recharge, as can refrigerant conversion. Additional costs will need to be taken into account to prevent any budget-busting surprises.

Leak Testing

Leak testing is an important part of the AC recharge process. It involves checking the refrigerant lines and connections for leaks before refilling the system. If there are any leaks, they must be repaired before the system can be recharged. Simply refilling the unit without repairing the leaks can be a waste of time and money, as the refrigerant will just leak out again.

Leak testing is a necessary step, though it can increase the total cost of an AC recharge. On average, leak testing costs around $50 for a single visit. Usually, the service provider includes this cost with the price of a refrigerant refill and leak repair, making the total cost for a visit in the range of $450 to $1,400 or more.

Unit Repairs

Repairs may be necessary when a unit is being recharged, especially if the AC is not functioning correctly because of damaged or worn components. Unfortunately, repairs can quickly push costs outside of a recharge budget. It’s worth noting that in some cases, the cost to replace an HVAC unit may be less than the repair cost. Most air conditioner repairs cost between $175 and $600, but some can be much higher—especially if the unit uses R22 refrigerant (Freon).

For example, replacing a condenser coil can cost as much as $2,800. Since a new air conditioner installation can be as low as $3,800, it’s important for homeowners to consult with one of the best HVAC installation companies to determine the best course of action for their specific situation.

AC service and repair is best left to the experts
Get free, no-commitment project estimates from top-rated services near you.
+

Freon Recovery

Freon recovery is an important step in the recharging process that involves removing any remaining refrigerant from an AC unit, whether it’s just being serviced or entirely replaced. Homeowners may need to pay an additional fee for Freon recovery to ensure that the refrigerant is properly collected and handled without negatively impacting the environment.

Homeowners will want to keep in mind that it’s illegal to release refrigerant into the atmosphere, which is why it’s crucial to work with a licensed professional who can ensure that the material is properly recovered and disposed of. The average cost of Freon recovery is between $50 and $150.

Refrigerant Conversion

Refrigerants are sometimes phased out as more efficient and environmentally friendly options become available. Swapping out one type of refrigerant for another is called a refrigerant conversion. This is sometimes a necessary added expense, especially when a unit’s original refrigerant is no longer commercially available.

Converting an AC unit can be expensive, costing anywhere between $2,000 and $4,500. In some cases, it can make more financial sense to simply replace an AC unit rather than convert it, especially if it’s an older model or is in need of a lot of repairs. It’s also worth noting that some AC units can’t be converted to use a different type of refrigerant and may require a replacement no matter what.

Home AC Recharge Cost by Unit Type

A home AC refrigerant recharge cost can vary depending on the type of unit installed in the home. Three common types of air conditioners include the window AC, mini-split, and central AC system. The cost to recharge each type is based on the amount of refrigerant needed and the labor involved, as outlined below.

AC Unit TypeAverage Cost to Recharge
Window AC$100 to $200
Mini-split$100 to $300
Central AC$150 to $600

Window AC

A window AC unit is a type of air-conditioning system designed to fit into a window opening. Similar to the best portable air conditioners, these types of AC systems can be moved from room to room as needed, though it takes a bit more effort. Window units are low cost and simple to install but have limited cooling capacity and reduced energy efficiency.

Window AC units are typically the least expensive type of AC unit to recharge. Costs range from $100 to $200 depending on the size of the unit and the amount of refrigerant needed. Window AC units only require refilling if a leak is present, which will require repair as well. It’s also important to note that some newer window AC units use eco-friendly refrigerants, which can be more expensive to recharge.

Mini-Split

A mini-split AC unit is a ductless air-conditioning system that consists of an outdoor unit and one or more indoor units. Mini-split units are energy efficient, easy to install, and offer zoned cooling where it’s needed most. A mini-split system also has a unique advantage as it can heat and cool zoned spaces. However, a mini-split system can be more expensive up front, and the indoor units may not be visually appealing. The cost of recharging a mini-split AC unit can range from $100 to $300. The final cost depends on the number of indoor units and how much refrigerant is needed.

Central AC

Central AC is a type of cooling system that uses ductwork to distribute cool air throughout a home. Central AC systems are advantageous compared to window units and mini-split systems because they can cool an entire home. Central AC systems are energy efficient when properly maintained and offer quiet operation. However, the cost of a central AC system can be high, and ductwork can create additional maintenance for a homeowner.

Central AC units are the most expensive type of AC unit to recharge, and costs can range from $150 to $600. These AC units have a larger capacity than window and mini-split units, which means they require more refrigerant to recharge. Additionally, central AC units often require more labor to recharge, which can also impact the cost.

Do I Need a Home AC Recharge?

When a home AC system isn’t performing like it used to, it’s likely time for a recharge. But there are a variety of signs that can signal a need for maintenance. Homeowners will want to know how to spot the following signs that their AC system may be due for a recharge to prevent system damage and costly cooling bills.

Increased Electric Bills

One sign that a home’s AC unit needs to be recharged is a sudden spike in energy costs. If low on refrigerant, a system must work harder to keep up with a home’s cooling needs. This can quickly lead to an increase in energy use, which shows up as a much higher-than-anticipated electric bill.

Unless there is another viable reason for a sudden spike in energy costs, a homeowner will want to consider having their AC unit inspected. While it’s normal for energy bills to increase slightly during the summer when the AC is in regular use, a substantial increase warrants some investigating.

Hissing or Bubbling Sounds

Hissing or bubbling sounds coming from an AC unit are usually signs of a refrigerant leak, signaling that the unit may need to be repaired and recharged. As refrigerant escapes through a small hole or crack in the system, it may be possible to hear muffled popping or gurgling noises.

Leaking refrigerant is a common problem that can significantly impact the performance of an AC system. When refrigerant leaks, the system loses its efficiency until it eventually stops working. Chemicals released into the atmosphere can also contribute to climate change. To avoid the high cost of a full replacement and negative environmental impact, it’s important that homeowners address refrigerant leaks as soon as possible.

Leaking Water

Leaking water is not necessarily a sign that an AC unit needs to be recharged. In fact, air- conditioning systems naturally produce water as warm, humid air passes over the evaporator coil. It then condenses into water droplets. This water is typically collected in a pan and drained away through a pipe or tubing.

However, if an AC unit is excessively leaking water or it’s not draining properly, there could be an issue with the system. When the refrigerant level is low, parts of the unit can freeze over. As the ice melts, excess water may leak out of the unit, signaling the need for a recharge.

AC problems?
Call a pro ASAP. Get free, no-commitment project estimates from top-rated services near you.
+

Presence of Frost

If a homeowner spots frost or ice building up on the evaporator coils of their AC unit, it’s often a sign that the unit needs to be recharged. Low refrigerant levels in an AC unit can force the system to work harder than usual to cool the air, which can cause the evaporator coils to freeze over.

If the AC unit is not recharged, the frost or ice buildup can cause the unit to stop working altogether. It’s important to note that simply removing the ice buildup is not a long-term solution. The unit must be recharged to prevent further frost or ice accumulation and potential damage to the unit.

Hot Air Blowing

An AC unit that’s blowing hot air can be a sign that it’s due to be recharged. When an AC unit is functioning properly, it uses refrigerant to absorb heat from the air inside the home and release it outside, resulting in cool air circulating throughout the house.

If an AC unit’s refrigerant level is low, it can struggle to absorb heat. As a result, cooling the air becomes more of a challenge, which can cause the air blowing throughout the home to feel warm or even hot, instead of cool and refreshing. If left unaddressed, low refrigerant levels can cause the compressor to overheat, which can damage the unit permanently.

AC Running But Home Not Cooling

How long should it take an AC unit to cool down a home? It depends on a few different factors, such as how big the house is and how hot it is outside. But generally, a properly functioning AC unit should be able to cool down a house within a few hours. If an AC system has been running for hours but it’s still not cooling a home, it could be a sign that the unit needs to be recharged. When the refrigerant in a unit is low, it can’t circulate through the system properly, reducing the unit’s cooling capacity. As a result, a homeowner may notice their AC unit running around the clock yet not feel any cooling effects.

AC Recharge Cost
Photo: istockphoto.com

Home AC Recharge: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional 

When an AC unit isn’t cooling as it should, it can be tempting for homeowners to try to fix the problem themselves. However, a DIY AC recharge is never recommended. It’s important for every homeowner to understand the risks of attempting such a task themselves and why it’s important to hire a licensed contractor instead.

The most important reason homeowners should not recharge their own AC unit is that only licensed contractors are legally allowed to handle and purchase refrigerant. Because of its potentially harmful impact on the environment, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) strictly regulates the purchase, handling, and disposal of refrigerants.

Other reasons homeowners should not recharge their own AC unit include:

  • Potential safety hazards: Refrigerant is a potentially dangerous substance that can cause serious injury or even death if handled improperly.
  • Lack of knowledge and experience: Working with refrigerants requires specialized knowledge and experience. A licensed contractor has the expertise to diagnose and fix refrigerant issues correctly and safely, which can save homeowners time and money in the long run.
  • Voiding warranties: Attempting to recharge an AC unit without the proper training and experience can result in costly mistakes that could void the unit’s warranty.
  • Environmental impact: As mentioned earlier, refrigerant is considered a hazardous substance and can have a significant impact on the environment if not handled correctly. Licensed contractors know how to dispose of refrigerant properly to minimize its environmental impact.

Not only is it illegal for homeowners to handle refrigerant, but it’s also potentially dangerous and can result in costly mistakes. Homeowners can protect their investment and the environment by hiring a licensed contractor to handle any refrigerant-related issues with their AC unit.

This is no DIY job
Get free, no-commitment project estimates from top-rated services near you.
+

How to Save Money on Home AC Recharge Cost

Air conditioning is a great way to keep a home cool and comfortable during the summer months. But AC systems can be expensive to maintain. Fortunately, there are several ways to save on AC maintenance, including recharges, as explained below.

  • Shop around. Get service quotes from multiple contractors to find the best price.
  • Stick to flat rates. Only consider contractors who offer flat rates for recharging to avoid surprise costs.
  • Look for discounts. Check for any available discounts or coupons from local HVAC technicians.
  • Consider off-season repairs. Schedule a recharge before peak season to get more competitive pricing.
  • Maintain the unit. Keep the AC system properly maintained and serviced regularly to extend the lifespan of the unit, keeping in mind that the cost of HVAC services is much less expensive than repairs or unit replacements.
  • Look into rebates. Check for any rebates or tax credits available for energy-efficient AC systems to offset recharge costs.
  • Go easy on the AC unit. Avoid overworking the unit, which can trigger a premature recharging session, by using a programmable thermostat, using ceiling fans inside to help circulate the air, and making sure the area around the AC is clear and free from debris.

Questions to Ask About Home AC Recharge

Homeowners looking for the best HVAC companies to recharge their air conditioner will want to ask the right questions to make sure they hire the best professional for the job. It is important to know what kind of experience and qualifications a contractor has, as well as their rates and the services they offer. The following questions can help narrow down a list of contenders.

  • What do you think is going on with my AC system?
  • Is my AC system due for a recharge?
  • Are you a trained, certified, and insured HVAC contractor?
  • What brands do you have experience with?
  • How long will it take for the system to be recharged?
  • How much does it cost to recharge home AC units like mine?
  • What is and what isn’t included in the project quote?
  • Will you automatically check for leaks in the system?
  • When can you add me to your schedule?
  • Do you recommend any other repairs or services?
  • How long until my system will need to be recharged again?
  • Does payment have to be made in full before the unit can be recharged?
  • My unit is quite old—should I recharge it or just replace it?
  • If my unit needs to be replaced, what are some of the best air conditioners available?
  • Do you handle the cleanup and disposal of the removed refrigerant?
  • What if my AC still doesn’t function properly after being recharged?

FAQs

A home AC recharge is an important part of maintaining a home’s cooling system. A recharge ensures the system is operating properly, helping to keep energy costs down while improving air quality. While the cost to recharge home AC units can vary depending on the size and type of system, most homeowners can plan for an average AC recharge cost of $300.

The following FAQ section will give homeowners additional information on home AC recharges so they can make sure they fully understand the process.

Q. Can I recharge my home AC myself?

No, recharging a home air-conditioning system is not something a homeowner should take on themselves. Hiring a professional is the safest and most recommended option, as the EPA requires anyone handling home AC refrigerants to have a valid license. Not only will a professional have the necessary skills and tools to complete the task safely, but they can also identify any other underlying issues that may need to be addressed.

Q. What is the cost of R22 Freon per pound?

A 25-pound canister of R22 Freon costs about $500, or $20 per pound. The good news is that most systems only need 6 to 12 pounds of Freon for a recharge. The bad news is that it’s becoming nearly impossible to purchase R22 Freon, and older R22 systems can’t use the current HVAC standard coolant, R-410A. This can leave homeowners who have an R22 system with no choice but to upgrade.

Q. How often should my home AC be recharged?

An AC unit does not need to be recharged on a regular basis. In most cases, recharging an AC unit is only necessary once every 2 to 5 years. In some cases, an AC unit can go even longer between recharges. A homeowner will always want to be on the lookout for signs that often signal the need for a recharge, such as a compressor running more frequently or a unit unable to keep up with cooling needs.

Q. Does the type of AC unit impact the home AC recharge cost?

Yes, the type of AC unit can have an impact on the home AC recharge cost, as different types of units require different amounts of refrigerant to recharge. Window units have the smallest recharge cost range between $100 and $200. Mini-split units cost a bit more to recharge at a price between $100 and $300. Central AC systems are the most expensive to recharge and can cost as much as $600.

Q. How long does a home AC recharge last?

A recharge ought to last 2 to 5 years, depending on the size and usage of the AC unit. However, if a homeowner finds themselves needing to recharge their AC more often than that, it could be a sign of a leak or other issue that needs to be addressed.

Sources: HomeAdvisor, Fixr, DeZiel Heating & AC Inc.