As a homeowner, there are two parts of your house that you hope you never have to replace: your plumbing system and your central air system. Considering the cost of labor, replacing a plumbing system is probably the more expensive of the two. But the components of your central air system are probably the most expensive machinery that you own besides your car.

When you hear someone talking about replacing a central air system, they’re probably not talking about air conditioning duct repair. More than likely, they’re referring to replacing the components of a central air system: an air handler, an air conditioner, and a control panel that controls the air conditioner. For a high-quality air handler, you can usually expect to pay around $2,000. But the cost of a new air conditioner depends on the size of your home. For a small home, a new air conditioner might cost around $1,600, while for a large home the cost can be several thousand more. Air conditioners are ranked in terms of “air tonnage”, and the level of tonnage that you have to use is dictated by law. So, it’s best not to try to save money by buying a smaller unit than you optimally need. The price of replacing a control panel is nominal, with a basic model costing perhaps $50.

Air conditioners and air handlers usually don’t break down simultaneously. But when your air conditioner needs replacing and a service person inspects your air system, they might find that your air handler is nearing the end of its lifespan and offer you a package to replace both. In such cases, paying around $12,000, including labor, for a 2,500 sq ft house is rather common. If you find yourself in this position, the bright side is that most heating and cooling companies offer in-house financing at low-interest rates.

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