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What Should It Cost To Repair HVACR Equipment?

One of the things I like about having a blog is that I can decide to write about anything I want to and post it where others can see it. Sure, it’s not like getting an article published in a magazine, or getting a book published, but it is, after all,  a form of publishing, and it can often lead to the same result that books and magazines can lead to….getting a diaglogue started among people, which, in the end, winds up creating some kind of change for the good.

With that thought in mind, the dialogue I want to get started with this post is, as the title states, “What should it cost to repair HVACR Equipment?”

The reason I’m raising this issue is because of an incident I became aware of regarding a request for a repair, and the price that was charged for a diagnosis and the price that was quoted to complete the repair. I’ll say up front that I wasn’t there when this situation unfolded, and I also understand that there may be details that I don’t know about, but I consider my source to be reliable, and I’m convinced that I have enough information to discuss this situation and give you my opinion on it.

This is about a package unit heat pump and a home in Phoenix, Arizona. The customer’s complaint was simply, “not cooling” and when the technician employed by an area service company arrived and checked the equipment, this is what I’m told happened:

The technician attached gauges to the system and then decided to pressurize with nitrogen to find a leak. He told the customer that the leak was in the pilot tubes of the reversing valve. The bill for the diagnosis was $440.00 after a $25 discount.

The quote to replace the reversing valve was $2,129.00.

If you’re good at arithmetic, or if you have your smart phone handy, you can quickly determine that the total cost for this repair would be $2,569.00, and, according to the information provided to me, this figure was arrived at by using a price guide of some sort.

And, now, I’m going to give you my opinion on this situation, because, after all, we are all entitled to our opinions about things, and after you read this, I welcome yours.

Ridiculous. Outrageous. Crazy. Beyond belief. Gives the entire HVACR industry a black eye.

I could go on, but I would just be saying the same thing over and over again with different words. And the reason I believe the way I do about this situation is because of my calculations of what it should cost in order to diagnose this problem, replace a reversing valve, install a drier, evacuate and re-charge the system, and monitor the operation to make sure the equipment is operating properly before I leave.


Yes, that’s my number. And, to explain in simple terms how I arrived at that figure, I considered a service call and diagnostic fee, a marked-up price for the reversing valve and drier that I would purchase at wholesale, the necessary miscellaneous supplies, the labor to accomplish the repair, and a fair profit….all of this based on the concept of understanding my cost of doing business. (And, just to be sure that I didn’t miss something or suddenly get stupid because I was so incredibly astounded by what I was told about this situation, I went through this process with a colleague of mine that I trust implicitly.)

Again, employing simple arithmetic, I have to ask the question, where is the $1,709.00 difference in price coming from?

Now, I can understand how you may have some questions about this, like, “is there something you don’t know about this situation?”

Well, anything is possible, but, based on the facts presented, I doubt it.

Or, maybe you’re wondering if the technician’s diagnosis was correct. Well, when you check the wiring diagram on this equipment, you’ll find that it employs a low-pressure safety switch that needs to be closed in order for the compressor and outdoor fan motor to operate, so it’s conceivable that the refrigerant had, in fact, leaked out, leading to a procedure in which nitrogen would be used to find the leak, and, of course, since nothing is impossible when it comes to HVACR equipment failure, a leaking pilot tube on the reversing valve could be the problem.

As I said, I welcome your comments (providing they are civil) on this situation, whatever they may be.

Learn from yesterday…..Live for today…..Look forward to tomorrow