Man talking(l+r), Repair man fixing ac unit(c)

Med Photo Studio/Shutterstock @user8304409061671/Tiktok (Licensed)

‘I fixed it for $9.99’: HVAC customer says he was charged $1,100 for a part anyone can replace at home. Don’t make the same mistake

‘Just like a car battery, this will go bad over time.’

 

Stacy Fernandez

Trending

If you have an HVAC system and are willing to follow 15 minutes of instructions, you might save yourself hundreds of dollars in repair costs.

While most HVAC systems will last you about a solid two decades, you’re bound to have to replace parts or run into issues every few years as the system needs to be maintained.

In a viral video series with more than a million views, the TikTok channel Fix This House (@user8304409061671) shared the story of how he nearly overpaid for a simple HVAC fix.

In the initial TikTok, the contractor explains that one of the most common HVAC repairs people call in for is the AC capacitor, which helps pump electricity through the unit.

“Just like a car battery, this will go bad over time, and unfortunately you will have to change it out. And people make the service call and then they do get charged so much,” he says.

On average, getting your AC capacitor replaced costs between $80 and $400, according to Forbes, or $120 to $250, according to Angie’s List.

Unfortunately, a few years ago, an HVAC repair person took advantage of him, the contractor says, as he showed proof of a $1,102 quote.

Not wanting anyone else to get so grossly overcharged, the contractor put together a three-part, 15-minute-long TikTok series with detailed explanations on how to fix this yourself for a few couple dozen bucks. If you want detailed instructions and visuals, check out the contractor’s full clips.

But if you’re just looking for the basics, we’ve got you covered.

How to replace your AC capacitor

  1. Find your HVAC’s detachable panel and use a flathead screwdriver to detach it.
  2. Identify whether your capacitor is bad and needs replacement. Often, old ones will have built up rust on the top, or the top will have bulked up like a mushroom instead of laying flat. But, it can look completely fine and still be dead.
  3. Before you start tinkering with anything, shut off the power from the main circuit breaker or from a panel that may be located near the HVAC system. Then, using an insulated screwdriver (aka one with a rubber handle), touch the terminals on the capacitor to discharge any remaining electricity and avoid hurting yourself.
  4. Take a picture of where the wires originally were.
  5. Using a multimeter (which you can easily get for $10 to $40 at a major hardware store) test to see if the units the meter is picking up on match what’s listed on the capacitor. If it’s low, it’s time to replace it.
  6. If you buy the same exact capacitor, you can put the wires on the new piece, close up the unit, turn on the electricity, and be done. But it’s a bit more complicated if you use a universal capacitor. If you go that route, we suggest watching parts two and three of the TikTok.

The video has hundreds of comments, with many people agreeing that it’s worth it to handle this repair yourself, given how much money you can save.

@user8304409061671 I Was Charged $1,100. I Fixed It For $9.99! How To Replace And Test AC Capacitor | EASY DIY! – P1 #CondenserCoil #AirConditioner #ACUnit #ACCoil #ACCondenser #ACCondenserCleaning #IndoorAirConditioner #IndoorOutdoorACUnit #CentralCooling #HeatPump #HeatingAndCooling #CoolingCoil #ACCapacitor #ACFilter #fixthishouse ♬ original sound – Fix This House

“I watched YouTube and fixed mines myself. I had no knowledge of what to do at all. Cost me $14,” a top comment read.

“It’s a good video and it’s too bad air-conditioning companies take advantage of people and talking about people in Arizona.. I was taken for $675 to replace the capacitor,” a person shared.

But an AC repair person said it isn’t quite that simple.

“17 years experience in Hvac. My company charges about $250. Capacitor fail due to high heat usually. Almost always there is another issue that led to the failure. Low refrigerant, etc,” the person wrote.

The Daily Dot reached out to the contractor for comment via email.

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