Why Are HVAC Parts So Expensive? An Expert's Insight

Technicians who specialize in air conditioning repairs must charge more due to complexity of high-tech parts & COVID-19 pandemic has created perfect storm making HVAC parts & equipment more expensive than usual.

Why Are HVAC Parts So Expensive? An Expert's Insight

Technicians who specialize in the air conditioning repair trade often have to charge more due to the complexity of high-tech parts. When the weather gets hotter, demand for air conditioning parts, new units and repairs increases, and manufacturers often impose annual price increases. This year, however, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a perfect storm that is making HVAC parts and equipment more expensive than usual. The pandemic has caused a decrease in supplies of raw materials and labor shortages in factories that manufacture the parts and equipment we need.

The cost of diesel has also been high, meaning the fuel needed to bring our HVAC truck to your location to repair or replace your air conditioner is more expensive. We stock our trucks with as many consumable parts, tools and HVAC supplies as possible to facilitate repairs. Larger vehicles are needed to transport HVAC units and supplies when they need to be replaced. Diesel vehicles allow us to carry more weight with better fuel consumption, and our trucks can also stay in service for longer.

Some HVAC companies may begin to reduce the size of their service areas. The raw materials used to manufacture air conditioning parts and equipment are scarce and are becoming more expensive. The Bureau of Labor Statistics monitors the prices of products manufactured in the United States by month, so you can observe average prices as they change over time. The NASDAQ also documents commodity prices and can see the upward trend in prices over the past year. Copper pipes recovered from HVAC units are ready to be recycled. During the pandemic, demand was low because factories were not working at full capacity, meaning that prices were low.

That has changed in recent months. Fortunately, healthy air conditioning systems shouldn't need additional refrigerant. This is why a fully charged system should not need to be “recharged”. If it does, it means you have a leak that needs to be repaired. Semiconductor chips are found in higher-efficiency HVAC systems, such as variable-speed HVAC units, multi-speed central air units, heat pumps and the minisplits.

Consumers love them because they are efficient, quiet and increase interior comfort. However, Newsweek reports that chip shortages are affecting the manufacture of new cars, smartphones and computers. They also expect the chip shortage to extend to air conditioning systems. This means that we could see a lower supply of high-end and optimally efficient HVAC units and parts. PC boards, the minicomputers that make them so efficient, can be harder to get and more expensive if you need to repair or replace them.

The labor shortage caused by the pandemic has been added to delays and equipment shortages. Therefore, if you see an increase in the producer price index (PPI) of the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (as shown in the graphic below), HVAC companies and consumers can also expect higher prices on air conditioners, heat pumps and parts. The inflation rate is trending higher than in some time, according to government statistics.

This means that the value of a dollar is lower, meaning that a consumer may have to pay more for the same item. Understanding all market forces can help you plan and be patient if buying a part to repair an air conditioner takes longer than usual. Homeowners who know that their air conditioning may not last as long in summer as it does in fall could start thinking about changing it now, so that they have more time to decide what type of system they want and what features are essential. Most people have a central air conditioner for 12 to 17 years, so it's worth buying what you're looking for, as they may have it for a long time. Starting the HVAC replacement process before it's an emergency gives you more time to make a decision and explore funding if you want.

Facing an expensive repair or replacement when temperatures reach 80, 90 degrees or higher isn't ideal. Starting that process earlier will allow you to take charge and reduce stress for everyone involved. An air conditioner breakdown during hot weather can be stressful. That's why we advocate regular maintenance and keeping abreast of market conditions.

This gives savvy customers options to stay comfortable when the weather heats up.

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