Air Conditioner Replacement Cost

Estimating an air conditioner replacement cost is a popular request from homeowners looking to update their unit, but one that is hard to deliver on immediately. The price of a new unit is easy to calculate, but without first examining the existing air conditioner and the current structure of the house, it’s nearly impossible to provide an accurate quote for the installation. There are a number of cost factors that ultimately work into the final cost of an air conditioner replacement, some of which many homeowners may not have suspected. Not only do they go a long way in determining the price, but considering these factors has a major impact on the type of unit that is right for the home as it stands.

House Structure

For most homeowners, replacing their air conditioner with a similar sized unit will be just fine. For others, however, a closer look at their house in its current state can help determine a more efficient option. If changes and alterations have been made to your home since the last air conditioner was installed, there’s a good chance the amount of cooling required has changed too. The addition of new doors or windows, for example, can make a big impact. Similarly, if you’ve added additional rooms or closed of existing ones, your cooling requirements won’t be the same. The size of a new air conditioner will affect the final cost of a replacement and having a contractor perform a load analysis to accurately size the unit will give you a better idea of what you’re up against.

Existing Ductwork and Line-Set

If you find that replacing your air conditioner requires an upgrade in size, chances are your existing ductwork will need attention, too. Ductwork installed with your older, likely smaller unit is not only designed for an air conditioner that size, but it’s also likely in need of some repairs. Calculating the cost of an air conditioner replacement is not one-size-fits-all, and without looking at the ductwork, determining yours will be difficult. New ductwork or repairs to the old one will certainly raise the final cost, but it’s an important part of a full replacement. Without suitable ductwork, a new air conditioner will not run as efficiently or effectively as promised.

The same principles can be applied to your units existing line-set. Certain upgraded models will require a replacement line-set and it’s a practice that’s becoming increasingly common. This will add to your final cost, but it’s often necessary for a proper replacement.

Code Requirements

Depending on where you live, you may be subjected to tight code requirements and regulations when replacing your air conditioning unit. Especially if requirements have changed since the installation of your old unit, you’ll likely need some alterations done to bring it up to code. If you live in an area that is prone to flooding, for example, your condenser may have to be installed at least one foot above flood plain. Likewise, your ductwork will have to be sealed water tight to prevent damage in the unfortunate event of a flood. These additional steps will end up raising costs, but their requirement is non-negotiable.


If you considering replacing your air conditioner because it’s outdated, odds are your furnace needs an upgrade, too. In many instances, air conditioners and furnaces are installed together and their compatibility helps to heat and cool your home efficiently. Just because you’re replacing your AC unit doesn’t necessarily mean you have to replace your furnace too, but if you’re doing it voluntarily, you may want to consider replacing both at the same time. This, of course, will increase replacement costs, but it can also prevent higher costs later on. If your air conditioner replacement is due to a failing system, a furnace originally installed at the same time probably won’t be far behind. Instead of replacing each unit at different times in a short span, you can save money and increase efficiency by installing both at once.

These cost factors will determine the final pricing when replacing your air conditioner and without addressing them, you may not end up with a unit that meets the requirements of your home today. Though your existing ductwork, line-set and, in some cases, former layout of your home, may have worked for your old unit, a full replacement must take into account each of these factors to not only determine the final cost, but to also cool your home effectively.

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