15-20 Minute Assessment

HVAC: Central Air Conditioner

The outdoor and indoor units are connected by copper lines that circulate refrigerant through coils. The refrigerant removes heat, and fans blow cool air through ductwork and vents.

Central air often shares ductwork with your furnace. Use the dampers in your ductwork to control airflow to different rooms.

Get a professional inspection every year. In between, change the filter every 1-3 months and clean debris from the outdoor unit at least twice a year. Over time, the refrigerant can get low, which may require a refill (recharge).



Repair and replacement costs

Typical Costs

  • Inspect: $80 – $100
  • Repair: $165 – $60
  • Replace: $5,000 – $12,500

Life span


10-15 years

Steps to Assessing Your Central Air Conditioner


Step 1: Clean debris and plant growth from the outdoor unit. If the coil fins are bent, straighten them.


Step 2: Repair any cracked, bent, or corroded supply or electrical lines.


Step 3: To prevent fires, clean debris from the indoor unit. Repair cracked, bent, or corroded lines electrical or supply lines. If the unit has a drain hose, check for kinks and clogs.


Step 4: Check the filter. If it’s dirty, replace it. Then make sure ductwork joints are tight. Fix peeling, cracked, or worn tape or caulking.


Step 5: Turn on your AC. If it won’t start, check for a tripped breaker. Then try the service switch and reset button. If you hear banging, squeaking, or other unusual sounds, contact an HVAC pro.

After 15 minutes, make sure air is flowing from the vents. If it isn’t, check for closed dampers. If the air isn’t cool, you may be low on refrigerant or have a broken compressor.