Emergency service needed? We're ready to help! Request Service

503.234.7331

HVAC Parts That Are Cheap to Replace & Expensive to Ignore

Woman with glasses looking over a document near the laptop

All heating and cooling systems have parts that will eventually need to be replaced. When these parts start to wear out, it’s important to take care of the issue as soon as possible. Replacing inexpensive parts like air filters can help extend the life of your system and prevent more expensive repairs down the road. In this blog post, we’ll discuss some of the most common HVAC parts that are cheap to replace but expensive to ignore!

What are the Most Expensive Parts to Replace on a Furnace?

The heat exchanger is one of the most expensive parts to replace on a furnace. It is also one of the most important parts of the furnace, as it is responsible for heat transfer. The heat exchanger is made up of a series of coils that heat the air as it passes through. Over time, the heat exchanger can become damaged, leading to inefficient heat transfer and increased energy costs.

When the heat exchanger needs to be replaced, it is important to hire a qualified professional to do the job. When the heat exchanger is working properly it prevents carbon monoxide from entering the home. If there is a heat exchanger crack, a professional HVAC technician will turn off the furnace and the gas to the home because it is a health hazard. Replacing a heat exchanger is a complex and labor-intensive process, and it is important to make sure that it is done correctly to avoid further damage to the furnace.

What is the Most Expensive Part to Replace on an Air Conditioner?

An air conditioner has a lot of different components that work together to cool your home. If one of these components starts to fail, it can cause the entire system to break down. One of the most expensive parts of your AC unit is the compressor. As the heart of your system, the compressor is responsible for circulating the refrigerant through the system, which is responsible for cooling the air in your home. Not only is it labor-intensive to replace an AC compressor, but refrigerant is also a very expensive commodity.

What Factors Affect the Cost of an AC Air Compressor Replacement?

The factors that affect the replacement cost of a compressor are:

  • AC compressor size –  the size of your AC unit will affect the price of a replacement compressor. 
  • Type of compressor – a single-stage compressor vs. a two-stage compressor can make a significant difference in replacement costs.
  • Brand – as with anything, some brands cost more to repair than others.
  • Installation costs – the quality and reputation of the HVAC professional that comes out to service your AC air compressor will impact the cost of repairs.

Which AC parts are Most Likely to Need to be Replaced?

As your AC ages, certain parts are more likely to wear out and will need to be replaced. Here are some of the most common parts that will need to be replaced:

  • The condensate pump is responsible for removing water from your AC unit. If it fails, it can cause water damage to your home.
  • The air filter is responsible for keeping your AC unit clean. If it becomes clogged, it can reduce efficiency.
  • The fan motor helps keep your AC unit components from overheating, especially the condenser.

Which Parts are the Cheapest to Replace on a Furnace or AC?

The cost of replacing parts on a furnace or AC can vary depending on the type and brand of HVAC unit. However, some parts are typically more affordable than others. For example, filters are relatively inexpensive and easy to replace. The same is true for fuses (in AC units, fuses are very cheap!) and condensate pumps, which are also relatively affordable and typically last for several years. Most AC units also have an easily accessible drain pan, which can be replaced if it becomes damaged.

Which HVAC Parts are the Most Costly to Ignore?

There are a few inexpensive HVAC parts that, if ignored, can end up costing you a lot of money in the long run. One such part is the air filter. A clogged air filter can restrict airflow, causing your HVAC system to work harder and use more energy. In addition, it can also lead to premature wear and tear on other parts of your furnace or AC. An HVAC system air filter should be changed every 3 to 6 months.

Another inexpensive part that is often overlooked is the thermostat. A faulty thermostat can cause your system to cycle on and off unnecessarily, wasting energy and driving up your utility bills. Finally, make sure to keep an eye on your ductwork. Leaky ducts can cause significant losses in heating and cooling efficiency. By making sure these inexpensive parts are in good working order, you can save yourself a lot of money down the road.

What Shouldn’t You Ignore in Your AC or Heat Pump?

Never ignore low refrigerant in your AC or heat pump. Refrigerant is crucial to the function of your AC or heat pump. Without it, your AC wouldn’t be able to cool your home. It works by absorbing heat from the air around it, enabling the air to be cooled.

If there is a refrigerant leak, your HVAC technician will need to figure out where the leak is, which is a time-consuming process. If a homeowner just wants to add refrigerant and not address the cause, it will be a large expense year after year. A temporary fix is not a good solution since AC and heat pump systems are closed and repeatedly opening them to add more refrigerant is a costly option. Refrigerant is a commodity, and R-22/410A is being phased out. Fewer producers plus inflation make a refrigerant leak an HVAC issue to take seriously.

How Much (In General) Do Some of These Parts Cost?

Here are some general ballpark prices for a few of the most common HVAC parts that homeowners need to replace:

  • Capacitor – $400 to $550
  • Compressor – depends on the warranty of the unit
  • Thermostat – $350 to $2000
  • Thermal expansion valve – $1200 to $3000
  • Heat exchanger – depends on warranty but ranges between $1700 to $2500
  • Contactor – $300 to $550
  • Fan – $800 to $2000

What HVAC Parts are Taking Longer to Replace?

Most people know that supply chains in 2022 have not been great. There are very long ETA times for furnace inducer motors and heat exchanger components.  Currently,  it is not uncommon to have up to a six month wait for HVAC units for commercial properties and up to 4 months for residential heat pumps. Most parts are in a similar situation, taking longer to be delivered.

What is the Single Best Thing to do to Save Money Over the Life of an HVAC?

Regular maintenance. You probably knew we were going to say that. But it is true. Regular maintenance keeps you proactive and ahead of leaks, corrosion, dirt, and debris that lead to HVAC system breakdowns or keep you caught in the supply chain chaos.

How Jacobs Can Help

Maintaining your HVAC system shouldn’t be difficult. If you wonder how to keep your AC or furnace in tip-top shape, let Jacobs Heating & Air Conditioning experts guide you. Consultants will help evaluate your system to ensure your existing HVAC system will keep you comfortable and save money.

Avoid extra costs and fewer repairs by scheduling a tune-up for your existing system before issues arise. Our professional maintenance plans keep your heating system running like clockwork without any stress or hassle. No matter what you need, we’re always just a phone call away. You are welcome to review our statement on COVID-19 and how we’re taking precautions to protect you, our team, and our communities.

About the Author

Amanda Jacobs portrait

Amanda Jacobs, Internal Project Manager

Amanda Jacobs is an Internal Projects Manager and 3rd generation member of Jacobs Heating & Air Conditioning. She received her MBA from Seattle University and has worked for a leading HVAC training and consulting firm. When not talking HVAC on the Jacobs Blog, you can find her on the golf course or whipping up her famous vegan chili.