HVAC Service Contracts: A Waste of Money?

Leave a Comment - 69

Comments

ADRIA THERIOT

Subject: form

Thought-provoking blog post ! I Appreciate the information , Does anyone know where my assistant might be able to get a sample WI DoR A-212 document to use ?

Bill

Subject: Void the warranty

I found on Trane, Lennox, York, Goodman, Carrier, and Bryant's websites that without maintenance according to their instructions the parts warranty is voided.

Mark

Subject: Not worth it for me

OK, let me help everyone out here... I've had a couple of highly rated companies perform a one time annual inspection on my A/C and heating split system unit (which were both 10+ years old and never had an inspection). As an engineer, I was interested in seeing exactly WHAT they are doing (both techs were actually happy to have me there - especially since they said they never have anyone to talk to).

Note: As I replace my filter myself, I don't need them to replace it. I also keep weeds/plants from growing around the outdoor unit and spray the outdoor coils down if they get dirty (which is very rare).

So it turned out that everything they did was 100% inspection, not 'servicing' (its not like a 'car oil change' type of maintenance as I've read here). The heat exchanger had a very small bubble on the surface which the tech said 'could' cause a problem in the future. So he said I could swap it out now or leave it and have it replaced when the heat broke. Either way it was going to be the same cost (it never broke).

So, the moral of the story is, get a one time annual inspection and walk around with the tech (you'll learn a lot and most love to show off their knowledge, which is good!). Then decide if, for example, you think it is worth paying $250/yr for say, 10 years ($2,500 total), for what they are 'servicing' and make up your own mind. I don't think the cost is worth it, but you might justify it for the piece of mind it provides.

Chet

Subject: Is a service contract worth the money?

I currently have a Train HVAC it is 19-1/2 years old the only maintenance it has had is by me.
It had one repair at about 9-1/2 and yes at that time I had a warrantee but the cost of the repair would have been very minimal so the money was not worth it.

A pure maintenance contract is not worth the paper it is written on. Every technician will tell you clean the filters, take a hose twice a year and clean out the compressor cabinet. Don't block the vents. Vacuum the registers at least one a year. Vacuum the intake vent in your home. Now the "hard part" once a year shut off the electricity open the furnace and very carefully vacuum the interior with a nozzle not a brush, don't touch the components, close up the cabinet put back on the electricity. You’re done! 99% of the time you cannot get to anything else and neither can the technician.

Equipment warranties - Companies make money on warranties they do not do it to lose money! However, if you are on a limited budget they can protect you against uncertainty thus giving you peace of mind, make sure you read the fine print or you will pay double. Do I consider getting a warrantee? Yes, but I make sure it will cover everything including coming out to find the problem, shipping of parts and labor to install the part. Make sure you get a contract that spells out the exclusions and not what it includes that is a trick to cover things that rarely fail. Negotiate the cost of the warrantee!

Rob

Subject: If all they did was 100%

If all they did was 100% inspection then they should not be in the field and are simply taking your money. It would be in your best interest to fire the idiots and hire a real company that does actual seasonal maintenance procedures, cleanings, and safety tests.

Michael

Subject: Furnace Rippoff

I had a horrible experience with an HVAC company that charged $8,519 for installing a furnace cost $1,300. Furthermore, the company used 98% of the existing material purchased with the house. This company introduced a service agreement contract to provide service to heating, electrical and plumbing. During the inspection on a very cold day they killed the furnace claiming health hazard reason and contractor laws for their decision. As a new home owner I have learned how to identify the honest HVAC company vs the HVAC snakes.

Linda

Subject: No Air for two weeks now

I have been giving to different companies by my warranty company, and still have the problem, and so am trying on my own to locate one.

tom

Subject: Furnace.

Ok.. to be clear. was it just the furnace.. did you get a new outside air cond. and coil... the coil and air cond is sold seperatly. the $1300 furnace was their cost... hvac companies make up to 30% markup on that... then looking at coil. its around $300 to $400 cost.. then markup.. the cond. which is around $850 plus markup. new tstat $80. then you have trip charge. fair is usually $50 to $80.. then labor per 2 guys.. usually $60 per lead and $30 per helper..an hr.. then material.. if new furnace cant use old venting.. have to replace with new. and new gas flex... My price would have been. around. $5680

so they were pretty high... those are the ones give us honest ones a bad name.. I always suggest to my customers. once I give them a price.. get atleast 2 more. bids.. sorry you had that trouble...

Robert Vasquez

Subject: HVAC Service Companies

I have had plenty of bad experiences in dealing with HVAC service and repair companies over the last 5 years so please forgive my skepticism. This includes companies who supposedly clean air ducts and replace attic insulation. One company sold me a $1,500 UV light of some kind which they said I MUST have to keep my system clean. The lamp burned out in a year or so and nobody has been able to replace it. Is there a place in addition to Angie's List where I can see what customers in my area are saying about these companies? Is there a government agency which regulates these guys?

Ben

Subject: Getting sold

I have been working in HVAC for over 20 years. Now I am starting my own HVAC company. I can tell you that it is a hard job that the workers sweat and bleed at, especially residential service. When there is no work there is no pay. That is where PMs work, keeps us in touch with customers and keeps guys working. When a sales man comes to your house he is there to sell, that is the only way he is paid. You have a good Tech PM your system, he is paying bills and should not "need" to sell you something you do not need. Your $1500 UV light is something you were sold on. For me, I give you the options for your needs and you decide if you need it.
The HVAC world is regulated. The most powerful tool a company has to get more work is impressing the customers it has now. You are the regulator.

Polar

Subject: Maintenance

sure they make money.... It is a business. But service contracts are good for both parties.

Homeowners get their maintenance at a discounted rate. Also in most cases in the event that a repair is needed the service charge is waived. Also discounts applied .

The advantage for the contractor is the home owner will call them in the event that a issues occur.

I would also like to note, the cost to run a small business is not inexpensive. As a matter of fact it's just the opposite. So yes there are always mark up on parts, but we're not paying for just a part are we?

GERRY

Subject: HVAC SERVICE CONTRACTS

To me it is very telling that all of the comments from people in the HVAC business strongly endorse service contracts. Reason: They make money on them. Just like an insurance agent pushing insurance.

Mercedes

Subject: Maintenance contracts

I personally love being a contract member per say! Emergency service is half hour (regular hour rates). Also regular rates are discounted or waived depending on problem etc. my favorite part is contract members get service priority during cold or hot periods and high emergency calls! I have been told it will be up to a 2 day wait for service until I mention I'm a maintenance customer! Love this option it has saved us much money and headache. Maybe the company's different details can be dissatisfying, pay attention when ur tech explains the details of such!

Judy Sweetland

Subject: AC Service Agreements

Who wrote this article? Certainly not an HVAC specialist. Going without a comprehensive maintenance agreement, especially for the aforementioned 5 year time span with a reputable HVAC company would be akin to never changing your car oil, checking tire pressure, nor having the vehicle inspected for safety and reliability. HVAC systems must be cleaned to be the most efficient they can be while providing comfort. Having maintenance done also promotes longevity and PREVENTS many breakdowns. You would assume the author of the article would have known more about the subject matter before providing Angie's List members a false sense of security about not having routine yearly maintenance done. I am an HVAC contractor by trade and have taught this profession at our local community college, so I have an abundance of experience and knowledge regarding the hazards of not having maintenance done. The list is long. Bottom line have maintenance done and make sure the company is thorough and completes all the tasks and work in the Agreement, so you can have peace of mind.

Keith

Subject: Maintenence Contracts.

The article said if you have a new air conditioner that spending 150 to 500 dollars MAY not be worth it. The cost of checkups and tune-ups is minimal and changing air filters is easy enough to do yourself. Nobody is doubting what you say here, but cost to "tune-up" is a lot less than an annual maintenance agreement.

Lynn Fink

Subject: Maintenance agreements

I too was skeptical of the overselling of a maintenance agreement on a new system for my rental property in Myrtle Beach. Everyone says not to expect more than 8-10 years out of any system there due to the salt air corrosion. My current system is over 10 now and I am glad to have the service contract. They call me to schedule my maintenance checks twice a year and have never charged me anything additional. They've replaced the thermostat twice, once when it was in the 30s of January and again in the 90 degree heat of June. I was given priority service the next business day in both cases, which is important when you have renters there on vacation!
My $17.95 monthly fee (conveniently put on my credit card, thank you) is well worth it! I appreciate the peace of mind it gives me.
I know I will be needing a new system in the next year or so, and will not hesitate getting it from 1 Hour Heating and Air!

Elaine

Subject: HVAC Service Agreements

I have become reasonably adept at researching products on line prior to purchasing them. However I don't find that there is a central location for searching information about the "true" value of home HVAC systems or perhaps I should say an honest assessment of these products. Since I live in FL it is critical to have a good AC unit in your home because they are really taxed in the summer.

I purchased an Infinity air conditioner from the Carrier Corporation through Airflow Designs in Orlando FL. The air conditioner was originally installed on May 3, 2007 and cost $7,600 for the unit and a 10 year warranty. On July 5, 2010 the compressor went out and again on May 22, 2015 the compressor went out again. After lots of phone calls research on the internet and much aggravation I have found that they used Bristol compressors and would be using that same product when installing this compressor. If that compressor has a high failure rate why do they continue to use them? However they would install a “different” condenser for $2545 made by another company ($1545 for the part and the AC company charges $1,000 for the install). It took quite a while to get in touch with anyone that actually works for the Carrier Corporation to find out what kind of support they provide for ineffective products. So the choices were to go with what is covered under the warranty and has gone out twice in the past 7 years or pay a large sum of money to replace this unit that seems to be problematic. What is the point of having a warranty if you are going to continue to get ineffective products installed? On September 25, 2015 the blower motor went out and had to be replaced. So if I had not had an extended warranty then it probably would have cost me about 3K in service calls and replacement parts in the past 8 years. In my case it paid off. If you have a more reputable company with a better product installing an HVAC unit then it might not pay for itself. That being said I have had multiple AC contractors tell me that the life of an AC unit based on the current manufacturing standards is close to 10 years. Most of us (including myself) are of the mindset that they should last for 20 years which may not be the case anymore.

Larry

Subject: your a/c

The Carrier-infinity (& the Bryant -evolution) (same product) system is one of the best on the market.
You either got a lemon or the installation/service is lacking.
(most likely the installation)

Jason

Subject: Carrier equipment

I find it hard to believe that Carrier equipment fail that often. I've installed and serviced Carrier equipment for many years. If your compressor has failed twice already, it's not the equipment. It's, more than likely, a poor installation. Choose a better installation company to check it out.

Kay West

Subject: service contracts

I admit I haven't done the math lately, but I've had a service contract on my furnace and AC for over 25 years. It's paid for some repairs in addition to regular inspections. Also, when my furnace was condemned one November the company responded right away, and when I replaced my AC, they made 2 trips to coordinate their work with a company that was working on the patio where the unit sits. I feel like they give me preferential treatment, and am willing to pay a little more for that peace of mind.

Br.Bill

Subject: If it were a good bet...

If Service Contracts were not profitable for the sellers, they wouldn't sell them. It's about as expensive an insurance policy as you can possibly buy.

Tyler

Subject: PM or Sham

Anyone who believes a preventative maintenance contract is a sham is unfortunately uninformed. We've all had bad contractor experiences, which is why WHO you work with is by far the most important decision a homeowner will make when considering a HVAC service provider. Studies by Energy Star as well as the NIST point to installation as THE most important aspect of new equipment installation, not the actual brand or features you buy. Service is no different and is only as good as the people who provide it. Size does not matter, large and small companies are just as susceptible to overselling needless repairs. However, this unfortunately speaks more to the management or philosophy of THAT particular company, not the entire industry as a whole. I've heard the horror stories of service technicians (who now work happily for us) that got sent home if they didn't sell enough on PM calls. Every technician we train is taught to handle every decision they make through the screen of "what's in the best interest of the client", those who do not adhere to this motto do not find themselves with a job at our company for long. It's not easy to monitor this, it is incredibly time consuming, however it is THAT important. Many companies turn a blind eye to this area of service management because it is not easy and in the end may be more concerned with the ends (ie the revenue) than the means,

As many of you mentioned, preventative maintenance is required by all major equipment manufacturer's to ensure your factory warranties remain in place. Furthermore, the tangible results of a PM is often hard to quantify, as one response stated the savings in efficiency or repairs that were avoided. Most pieces of a furnace or air conditioner don't just break at the snap of a finger, but instead is the result of repetitive use of a component that is out of balance. For example, a heat exchanger may fail prematurely because the gas pressure was operating to high, cooking the metal and causing premature deterioration, leading to cracks and holes. If that client had received a PM year to year the contractor will ensure their gas pressure stays in line and protects the component. a very beneficial result and one that was no cost at the time of service, but one that potentially saved a client thousands.

To put this simply, Preventative maintenance is ESSENTIAL to preserve the efficiency and performance of your HVAC system, multiple studies through DOE and ACCA can confirm this if you're interested. However, choose your contractor wisely, many of the 'reputable' contractors touted by Angie's list are not immune to improper sales tactics that DO take advantage of uninformed homeowners. Again, consider the source, Angie's list is a paid site with an agenda. While Angie's list is a good base line indicator that you MIGHT be working with a reputable company, you still must do your homework (not all contractors with a similar rating are the same). There is a wealth of consumer education through both the ACCA (Air conditioning contractors of America) and Energystar.gov (This is an arm of the Department of Energy).

Get educated and make an informed decision, do not base it off of any one comment from someone who may have had one bad experience as an employee or as a customer. That holds true to my statements as well, do your homework.

concerned contractor

Subject: Bad Press, Bad Author- Nicole Harms

It's all in her last name apparently. No sources cited for the outrageous claims made against contractors selling PM's. Wow really Angie's List?? Isn't it contractors who pay you for advertising? This is not the way to win customers or advertisers. Your article is complete fluff, written strictly to benefit your site's Search Engine Optimization, not really to provide any valuable or actionable evidence to your customer. Terrible hatchet piece on HVAC contractors and you should be ashamed of yourself Ms. Harms. Tell you what, ignore your oil change schedule for a few years and see what happens to your car.

Sharon

Subject: HVAC contract

I'm frustrated that our company will not change the filter as part of the annual inspection. Even if we buy the filter, they have clarified lately that it would cost extra for them to replace. Our filter is not an easy one to replace, otherwise we would have no problem doing it ourselves. It seems to me that a filter change should just be a regular part of annual inspection. I'm wondering how most companies handle this.

Dawn

Subject: Filter changes

Plenty of HVAC companies will price out things like specialized filter changes during Preventative Maintenance visits, separately, as an add on service for you. No two systems are exactly the same, but filter changes are something we offer during PM visits if the client needs it- especially the inaccessible filters- because we know how important it is that they be changed out & how tough it can be for a home owner to do it.
Maybe you just need to call a few other local businesses and ask if they offer the service?

Barb

Subject: Filter changes

I'm assuming your unit may be like mine... it has a 6" media filter that goes into the unit in the attic. It's by far my least favorite place to crawl around to replace a filter. However, when my PM contractor sells me a new filter ($60 but they last a year in my home), they deliver AND install it. I could be one of the lucky ones.

Bill Kitchen

Subject: Service Contracts

I have found that service contracts are really just "Permission Marketing". They get a representative of the company in the door to sell you expensive services or parts you don't need.
My house has 5 units, less than 2 years old. The 'repairman" found something wrong with 3 of them, such as a starting capacitor for $45.00 (found it on Amazon for $6.95). Another unit needed "cleaning of mold" for $450.00. (I cleaned it myself with Lysol). Another need the drain vent cleaned for an extra $30.00. (He literally stuck a shop vac on the drain outlet for a few seconds!, I complained and got a refund) When this guy belittled me for my "not understanding", I threw him off the property.
If you buy the extended warranty because of the "discount on parts and labor" remember that a discount on something you don't need is still a ripoff! By the way, this is a "reputable company" nationwide. I'm an electrical and mechanical engineer.

TBell

Subject: Service Contracts

Please keep in mind that companies don't just come out and do things for free. There is overhead in owning a business. They not only pay the technician labor to come to your home, but pay taxes on his labor. There is truck wear and tear and gasonline. Insurance, rent, utillities, etc all need to be covered. Your experience does not sound bad at all.

The cleaning of mold sounds a bit fishy? If it is ductwork, you don't clean ductwork, you replace it. If it is on your system, you have something wrong?

If you don't own a business, don't knock what they charge you, the fees are not unreasonable. You sound mechanically inclined to do things yourself. If you feel the need to complain, do it yourself.

Barbara

Subject: Service agreement Question

In June we had a new state of the art -- combination hot water heater/gas boiler installed. The company that installed it urged us to sign up for a service agreement. We were all set to do that. But then came the punch line. We'd be required to give them access to withdraw the money from our checking account or from a debit or credit card. In other words, they wanted to have a float using our money. We declined. Question: Is this the norm?

PSEG offers a similar service which we can pay with our monthly bill, but we're not sure they're experts with this new combination system.

Any Feedback, Advice will be appreciated!

Barb

Subject: Service Agreement Billing

My PM contractor does an auto-draft each month. It's not a "float", as it is a set amount on a specific day and they cannot process for more funds or frequency. However, I have a solid contract with them and they are a very reputable local company.

Barbara

Subject: Service agreement Question

In June we had a new state of the art -- combination hot water heater/gas boiler installed. The company that installed it urged us to sign up for a service agreement. We were all set to do that. But then came the punch line. We'd be required to give them access to withdraw the money from our checking account or from a debit or credit card. In other words, they wanted to have a float using our money. We declined. Question: Is this the norm?

PSEG offers a similar service which we can pay with our monthly bill, but we're not sure they're experts with this new combination system.

Any Feedback, Advice will be appreciated!

Judy Sweetland

Subject: Maintenance Agreements

Barbara, I am an HVAC contractor in Norfolk, Va. You should have yearly maintenance done on the Combi boiler you had installed. The heat exchanger passages have very small passages and can get fouled without maintenance flushing. Regarding the auto debit, although my company does not offer auto debit many companies do so they can have a known amount of money coming in every month, it helps with cash flow and having a "bumper" during the slow times of the year. If we do decide to offer auto debit we would also have an option of a single payment for the Service Agreement. There should not be any reason why your company cannot offer this. Hope this helps.

Paul Daniels

Subject: HVAC Service Contracts

We have had good and bad experiences with contracts on 2 rental properties and on our own home. If it is something simple these seem to work well but if it is a complicated problem it have found it too difficult and frustrating to use these - we were without our AC on one property for most of the summer in southern AZ with temps in the 100's because of the lack of expertise of the contractor and the fact that they try to get by with the cheapest fix when it was clear from the get go that more was needed to resolve the problem - so we didn't renew the contract for that property and will pay out of pocket to have more control over repairs and our choice of a competent contractor in the future.

John Mansur

Subject: HVAC Service Contracts/Major install contracts in general

There seem to be many takes on this issue. What I find surprising though, is the intensity of many of the opinions. If you have vetted your contractor properly and taken the time to look him (or her) "In the eye,"' comfortably hired him and watched the process, then I would think it becomes an issue of trust for most people. I'm 70 and just had a Kohler whole house generator installed. For me, the agreement, which came at what I judged to be a reasonable price, is worth it just for the peace of mind it provides. It is, after all, just "insurance," and must be, of course, profitable for whomever sells it. But if it is provided through your original contractor, you were pleased with his work, and you judge the price a fair trade-off for the removal of worry, why not?

Chuck

Subject: HVAC Service Contracts

In selecting a HVAC (or any) contractor, one has to use due diligence to find a good one. Luxury Air was recommended by a friend, but I also checked them at BBB and Angie's List. Due to excellent ratings by both, I started doing business with them --- an excellent decision! I have 2 HVAC systems, one for 1st floor and 1 for 2nd floor. Each year, I have the A/C checked in May and the heating in October, by a very reputable HVAC contractor, Luxury Air of Conroe TX (north of Houston where summers are brutal).

My 12 year old builder's spec upstairs HVAC was showing its age in 2010 and they replaced it with a 17 SEER system that was 1 Ton larger A/C capacity. While installing, they determined that my upstairs return vent was too small and enlarged it at no extra charge. Despite larger tonnage, my electricity usage in KWH dropped compared to the old unit with no change in thermostat settings. Also, I had one emergency repair of the downstairs A/C in Aug 2010. They sent a service tech on a Saturday, found a minor part problem, replaced it a a reasonable cost and without an extra weekend surcharge.

So, this past year I opted for a check-up only service agreement, that was 10-15% less expensive than scheduling these individually. Last week per the agreement, my contractor called me to schedule the fall heating check-up. I can't ask for better service than what I've received from Luxury Air.

Brad johnson

Subject: HVAC 'tune; up not like an oil change

I am grateful for reputable HVAC providers however have always been mystified by the hard sell for the seasonal 'tune up'. Comparison is made to an oil change in a car but this is needed service on a combustion engine and I see nothing in HVAC system that needs this type of maintenance. Motor bearings are self lubricating and filters easily replaced. Mostly (as far as I can see) the tune up is a vacuuming of coils and inspection of the system (this was what i witnessed in the only tune up I have had in 30 years and all that resulted was the tech unplugging my sump pump so he could plug in his light and forgetting to re plug in pump resulting in a mess for me to clean) So I would gladly do needed maintenance on a system but there isn't any (I would love to be educated about anything I am missing), Again I am not knocking the profession. I would not dream of installing my own system or replace an expensive card. However changing a capacitor on an AC motor , thermostat, filter, or cleaning the unit is not that difficult and I fail to see the payback on an inspection of a system with few serviceable parts.

Daniel B

Subject: Maintenance contracts

Being a owner of a HVAC company we offer twice a year checks.
Yes there are those companies that use maintenance contracts just to up sale.
But most are trying to keep your system running at maximum efficiency . When the check is performed yes we can find potiental problem before it becomes a major problem.

Wendy Brown

Subject: HVAC Service Contract

Folks seem to forget that in heating or cooling season, when windows are closed, this is the system that handles the air you breathe in your home. I am not a contractor. I am a homeowner. I keep my HVAC unit as clean as I know how and my service contract for two yearly visits is cheaper than two of any one time special on Angie's list. One just needs to find a reputable company with professional technicians.

Navy Vet

Subject: Nothing more than profit generation like extended warranties

To the HVAC owner who said they break even on service contracts -- cut me a break. If they weren't profitable you wouldn't offer them. Secondly like extended auto warranties they tend to cost a lot and cover very little and let's face it most of the companies coming out to do the annual service try to upsell you which is really sad. Although the saddest thing is the lack of professionalism in the trades today in North NJ. Too many folks lack the necessary skills to do the job and also the morals to treat customers fairly. As a customer you need to be well informed in order not to be completely taken advantage of. Most companies would rather sell you a new AC of furnace than to properly service the unit you have. Called out 3 companies -- all with the same pitch to sell new versus repair. Finally found someone to properly service and the unit has been operating problem free for the past 2+ years. Homewoner beware.

If service contracts weren't profitable for the contractor there would be no service contracts. IMO they aren't much different than the "extended warrantee protection" offered whenever you buy some gadget.

Find an honest, reliable service tech and stick with the guy.

Laura

Subject: Hvac yearly contract

I am a personal fan of having seasonal hvac checkups which includes unit cleaning filter changes etc. and at 175 per year i think it's worth the money. Just beware the company that will actually break something during said checkup which could cause a costly repair call. The second time this happened with the same company they refused any refund. 2 times coincidence? Sorry no.

Tom Caruthers

Subject: Service Contracts

Do you think the consumer us that stupid? Wait, you're right, they probably are that stupid because the industry has trained them to be.
Let's take the Service Contract out of the hvac business and transfer it Auto Care, or Dentistry.
The consumer pays a fee for two semi-annual visits. The visits could be I take my vehicle to my local mechanic, or I go visit my dentist. The concept is the same. It gives the service provider an opportunity to analyze the current situation and be the first-responder if a change is warranted. It could be, "all is well; see you in six-months".
The dentist provides a routine clean at no additional charge because it is included in the service contract. The auto mechanic will change the oil and filter because it is that included in the service contract.
An hvac contractor could learn from this model and offer, "we come out twice a year, change your filters, and the batteries in your smoke detectors, test your freon levels, etc." insure that your hvac system is sound. Any minor tweaks are included in the service contract; no extra charge.
The important point is, if there is a necessary change, the contractor gets the first bid instead of the customer going shopping.
AND THAT IS THE POINT OF SERVICE CONTRACTS!

allan

Subject: HVAC ripoffs

How can the HVAC guys come out to my house and charge me $30 for a capacitor which costs $1.50, not including the service call fee?

I just read about Martin Shkreli’s Turing Pharmaceuticals raising the price of a Daraprim tablet -- a 62-year-old drug that fights against the life-threatening parasite toxoplasmosis -- to $750 from $13.50. Not much different IMO.

Tbell

Subject: HVAC Ripoffs

If it was a minimal service call, it was just to leave his shop and drive to your house. This covers vehicle wear and tear and gasoline (quite possibly the tech's wages). If you were not charged to diagnose the issue, it was probably the reason for the mark up. There is LOTS of overhead when you own a business (insurance, taxes, rent, utilities and even taxes on payroll). Just a thought. It doesn't sound bad to me, it is actually a bit on the cheap side.

Mark Nelson

Subject: Great experience

Have used the same company for 6 years to service my 3 units twice a year. They give me priority and a lower rate when I have issues. Bought a new main unit and dual zone system from them after getting 3 bids. Never buy extended warranties or service agreements on anything but HVAC. Sucks not having air for 5 days in the middle of the summer. Good investment in my opinion. Never try to sell me something I don't need.

Diane

Subject: maintenance agreement

I have one for my vacation home in Florida and it works well for us. They service once a year and it also includes emergency service. I am reminded to get the annual service which is easy to overlook. And since I have family members who use the house when I'm not there they can easily get help if needed. The equipment does require the service to work well. What they charge us is very reasonable.

Sue Clyburn

Subject: Service Contracts

I have paid annually for a service contract for my HVAC system for the past 3 years. At first, I felt like it was worth it, & I trusted my technician completely (I always requested the same guy). This year, my preferred technician is working in a different area so I've had to settle for someone else. Every time this new guy comes, he brings in a bunch of gadgets & tries to convince me I need to add each of these to my system (he tells doom & gloom tales). I finally said, "If all these things are so critical, why aren't they part of the original installation?" He shrugged his shoulders & backed off. Maintenance agreements may be beneficial, but I feel like mine just gives a company rep an opportunity to sell stuff like a door-to-door salesman. I've already decided I won't be renewing my agreement at the end of the year. I'm wondering if others have had the same experience...

Roy M.

Subject: HVAC Service Contracts

If you have a natural gas or LP furnace, I can't imagine not having an expert check it before the heating season every year. You are literally risking your life and the lives of your family members, and perhaps those in nearby residences. Gas explosions are rare but not unheard of, and certainly worth a small investment for the piece of mind an annual checkup brings. A reputable service provider is not difficult to find through Angie's List or word of mouth; not everyone is a crook.

Craig

Subject: Hvac service contracts

I didn't have any contracts the 1st 5 or so years of my system. I then had 1x a year checkups for the next 4 years... starting year 10 had contracts.. paid off for me in that my furnace fan went out in DEC... priority response, service call, no charge... parts and labor only. Then my heat pump went wonky... another call. Small things here and there caught in advance.. always explained before replacement. Colder climates and older systems, older inhabitants all figure in the triaging the need for a contract.

Lyn Ayeer

Subject: Depends on WHO has your contract

I am in favor of having a maintenance contract. HOWEVER, it depends on what and how you are served. For many years I struggled with a large company who were never available on my time schedule, always made me wait a minimum of two weeks to fix anything, and did a really poor job. I finally got tired of being treated like an idiot and signed up with a small local company to do the maintenance -- and any repairs. What an amazing difference. They come out really quickly, are efficient, know exactly what they are doing -- and have never ripped me off with any expensive repair requirments. So kudos to small companies who have well-trained and reliable staff!

Greg Robert

Subject: Ripoff service contract providers

James' comment on service contracts and unneccessary upselling by hvac contractors is right on. The feigned response of indignity by the repliers to his comment are laughable. I have seen countless customers explain how a large hvac company sent in a slick salesman, with all the energy saving bells and whistles, either sell them, or try to, expensive remedies for simple service related problems. Eventually, this archaic industry will make up the 50 or so years and catch up to othe industries that have used sophisticated electronics to do away with such practices as "putting on the gauges" to diagnose non existing problems. NEVER PUT ON GAUGES TO A SEALED SYSTEM UNLESS ABSOLUTELY NECCESSARY.

doug

Subject: putting gauges on a sealed

putting gauges on a sealed system is the industry and manufactures standard and the only way to diagnose and monitor performance, but i can tell you know so much about hvac so it wont matter because i bet you can just guess that it works correctly.

Brian Nagle

Subject: Service Contracts

On Long Island where we are located, as anywhere else, there are reputable contractors and those who are less reputable. With more than 1500 HVAC contractors in our market, approximately only 10% are qualified to offer energy star rebates on new equipment. Service contract customers should get higher priority when a service call is needed. Long term companies with verified credentials through dept of consumer affairs and better business bureau, offer reassurance to the homeowner. It is important to research and work with quality companies. Price means a lot less when you have multiple service headaches.

Tina

Subject: HVAC service contracts

What do you do when the company that's providing the service contract tries to upsell you every time they come to perform routine maintenance? If the coils were cleaned in March 2015, why would they be showing "excessive rust" in June 2015 and require a deep cleaning for $400? They sold her a Reme Halo for $1,300, giving her a 10% discount if she renewed her PMA for seven years, even though it was six months before the current one expired. She didn't need a air filtration system, but they talked her into it.

My mom had a problem with her vents when the A/C turned on and again when it turned off. The service technician suggested a new unit (hers is only seven years old) for $10,000 or opening up bigger areas in the roof and her walls to increase the size of the vents in her 965 sq. ft. condo. That would only cost $4,400. They never even checked the filter - if they did, they would have discovered my mom bought the wrong filter. How's that for a service provider?

I know most HVAC companies are reputable and have good people working for them, but when you get one that preys on unsuspecting 80-year-old women, that's a shame.

Michael

Subject: Repair versus Replacement

The industry standard is 10-15 years life expectancy for an HVAC system. It would not be unethical for any technician to recommend replacement after 10 years. For several reasons- Your manufacturer warranty likely expired 5-10 years after install date, the cost to run an older system costs you more monthly on your electrical Bill 30-50% in many cases, and for health reasons. Think about how much more your HVAC system runs than you put miles on your car in one month. A majority would trade a car in before 10 years is up. Rusted coils are a problem. And can't be cleaned up. Only a new replacement multi processed coil would fix rusting coils. If the repair cost times the age of the system is more than replacement- repair would not be the best option. A rusting coil is a refrigerant leaking coil at some point if not already. Always ask questions. Look for reviews. Company's can't operate without good reviews these days. Call your local church. Most large churches have people they can refer you to that can be trusted. Just a thought.

James

Subject: maintenence agreement

If the hvac company didn't come out ahead they wouldn't offer contracts. The so called reputable companies rip off more people than the fly by night outfits. I know because I tried to work for them. I quit because 90% of them are crooks. They walk in with or without a contract and start selling you things you don't need. They lie. How do I know. I now work as a consultant to verify the so called problems and remedies. 9 out of 10, I check are completely wrong.

Ron White

Subject: Maintenance Agreement

The reputable companies do not rip off more people than the fly by nights...how ridiculous as is your statement "I know I tried to work for them. I quit because 90% of them are crooks". You just said you worked for 90% of the HVAC companies in your area. Wow, either you have jump from job to job many times, there aren't but a couple in your area or you are simply flapping your gums without facts or knowledge...I'll go with #3.
If you're going to use a 90% figure, then put it on the consumer where a huge % of them do ZERO maintenance on their system and wonder why it fails early. If people would take simple reasonable care of their systems, there would be no need for others to provide annual maintenance. But until then, the many reputable HVAC companies are providing a necessary service for those who care about long term dependability rather than do nothing but setting back and complaining about how bad their units are. These types of service are hard to put a $$ savings on because you don't know how much you saved by maintaining the equipment properly...you don't know what you don't know. But, don't you maintain yours and you will find out how much it cost for early failures, but you won't know how much more you spent because it wasn't running at optimum efficiency and you kept paying the utility company more than you should have. Don't you clean your house, change your oil, or take care of yourself and see how long you last or how fast you break down my friend.

Joe

Subject: Response to James' Maint. Agree. comment

James, there's more truth to what you say than not. By the very nature of the hvac industry, unnecessary component and system sales are proliferate. The bigger the company, the worse it gets. I have contacted people who were railroaded by slick salesmen and service selling personnel that have done exactly what you say. I have also worked in the industry and seen it first hand, or more like every trick in the book. These commenters feigning abhorance to what you're saying are laughable.

Jeff

Subject: unfortunate opinion

Wow. It is really sad that anyone that is supposedly "in the trade", could have such a low opinion of contractors. It is also very offensive. PROFESSIONALS in the trade, manufacturers, reputable trade associations, as well as the DOE, can tell you that contracts can be invaluable to equipment, especially in todays world of high efficiency and state of the art systems. This is a FACT proven through real life studies. I am the owner of a very reputable HVACR/Energy Management/Indoor Air Quality company. We design, install, maintain, repair equipment ranging from absorption chillers to mini splits. I am able to do warranty repairs for just about every manufacturer due to my training, skills, and reputation. I am quite offended why anyone would make such a pompous accusation regarding contractors who offer contracts???? I would be MORE concerned with the qualifications of the technicians and or company, as well as the qualifications of those TRASHING the contractors that offer contracts. We offer many different contracts. Preventive Maintenance, Predictive Maintenance, Full Service, ect. You claim that companies only offer contracts, because they make money?? Well....that is definately not necessarily true. The majority of our contracts are a "break even" deal initially. We want your business and the opportunity to EARN your confidence. In doing so, you will be more than likely to use us and recommend us. Premature equipment failure can often be avoided. Before I would base my decision from a paid site like Angies list.....I think it would be more realistic to ask for references and qualifications!

Fay Brown

Subject: HVAC maintenance agreements

I find it interesting that in the article that Nicole Harms wrote, she does not reference any studies, any recommendations from third parties such as ACCA, equipment manufacturers which all are very specific in specifying that maintenance is critical to your system's operation. There are many reasons to have a contract with a reputable company: ensuring your system is operating as efficiently as possible, identifying a problem with a system under warranty before it goes out of warranty, extending the life of your equipment by ensuring that refrigerant pressures are correct, the coil is cleaned so that air flow is not diminished, clogged drains that can damage your ceiling and furnishings, and the list goes on. If you purchased a new vehicle and did not get the oil changes, etc. for 36,000 miles, would you not feel that you were harming the vehicle that you expect to last you for a good while? The same is with a heating and cooling system that you depend on many more hours than your vehicle and for many more years than the average vehicle. Preventative maintenance is a good practice for our vehicles, our health and our heating and cooling systems. When we value the things that we depend on in our lives, they give us much better service and save us money in the long term!

Ron Belcher

Subject: Hvac contract

Most equipment companies require twice a year service to keep the warranty on the equipment. They know the same as you said if checked each year repairs will none to minor. We charge less for our basic service agreement than if you paid for both services at that time. If we service a system each year we know the system will not need a deep cleaning so it saves us time and the home owner money at the same time.

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what should you pay.  You pay what you can afford.  1100sqft unit requires a min. of a two ton unit.  prices range from 2100-2900 depending upon the seers of the system.  13 seer is the min. the law requires  and for your situation with 1100 sqft.  do not worry about the seers as long as it is to code.  the bigger the house the more seers for economy.  1100 sqft is at the border line for a two ton system.  It is more important to have your new system balance, there is where you get the economy on your electric bill and gas.  Bryant, lenox, ruud and carrier are the brands you should stay with.All have the same basic factory warrantee and will last you longer than you expect as long as you maintain it with regular check ups twice a year once in the spring and then in the fall.

raymond gonzalez
koolray heating and air
 clarksville,tn
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APRStore.com offers a nice sizing chart for HVAC capacitors and furnace capacitors. Most of the capacitors I've looked at are $5 to $15 dollars, so a little less than Home Depot and Lowes.

 

Replacement is really easy, but be sure to watch a youtube video on how to replace it like this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_IpydZIsOJg

 

Stay safe and hire a professional if you feel unsure about doing it yourself!

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The only thing of importance, is the hvac professional you choose to use. Alot of manufacturer's pieces are built relatively the same, and will last about the same amount of time. The thing that matters most is what you can not compare between companies, and that is the installation. Purchasing a system is not like purchasing a car, where no matter where you buy it, they are all the same. Each installation is different, and usually what you are paying for is the level of expertise, and quality of the installation, the company who will actual give you the warranty, and the comfort that you will receive. Manufacturers warranties disappear every day. They always have a loophole where they can get out of paying, but your local dealer wants to keep you happy for future work, and to protect his reputation in the communiy. Look up 4 year old Nordyne and Goodman warranty problems. Choose the HVAC professional first. It will cost you the least in the long run. I have had to totally redo plenty of installations that were just performed because of an uncomfortable customer, and a system that keeps breaking down. The equipment is only as good as it's installation, and over 70% are not installed correctly.
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I think maybe you are confusing SEER, which is an efficiency-related rating (higher SEER means more effective use of the electric power used to compress the gas), and TONS rating, which is a measure of the total cooling power of the system. (Tons used to mean how many tons per hour of ice was used in evaporative cooling building systems - a Refrigeration or Cooling Ton equals 12,000 Btu/Hour of energy exchange. A BTU, which is another antique measure but still used, is the energy needed to change the temperature of a pound of water one degree fahrenheit. Unfortunately, because of varying humidity and evaporation, this is not readily related to house air heating or cooling without a lot of assumptions and some computations. Relating this to today's world - the Manuals BayAreaAc referred to account for all these energy conversions and determine an estimated cooling (or heating) requirement for your specific house. The type of construction, solar exposure, general climatic conditions such as average temperatures, humidity, and hottest and coldest normal ambient temperatures and desired inside temperture are all taken into account in the more sophisticated versions of the analysis, so there is no "standard", though a rough old rule of thumb was about 1 ton of cooling per 500SF of house. Obviously, this was a WAG only because it did not account for insulation, type of roofing, whether you live in Alaska or Miami, etc. The ACCA manuals do a very simplified form of evaluation to arrive at a "design", which generally will be adequate. OF course, highly precise calculations are not really needed because A/C units generally come in even ton ratings - so if you are at say 2.6 ton requirement you will be getting a 3-ton unit anyway. SEER ratings are not a direct measure of efficiency, but the relative difference between ratings gives you good idea of the unit's relative efficency in using electricity - so a 16 SEER should be about 19% more efficient (so roughly comparable lower electricity bill) than a comparably sized 13 SEER unit. 13 SEER is the lowest efficiency currently allowed to be built for general use, 19 SEER is about the highest efficiency made by pretty much all manufacturers, and about 25 SEER is the highest rated though very pricey shelf-item units, though special construction custom units can reach about 30 SEER. Note however, like any government sponsored rating, much of it is hooey when you get down to it - for instance, SEER ratings are figured based on 80 degree inside air temp and 82 degrees outside, when that is far from the normal case of mid to low seventies inside and high eighties or above outdoors. This makes the absolute SEER rating meaningless, but relative numbers still have meaning in comparing units. Note these efficiency ratings are for conventional air conditoners and heat pumps working in ambient air conditions. Ground sourced Geothermal or lake/river exchange cooling units, though initially more expensive in most cases, can greatly exceed the air-exchange unit efficiencies because they are exchanging heat with cold natural water rather than with a high-temperature outside air, and instead of continually compressing a gas are just circulating cold water. I worked on one geothermal cooling project which had almost infinite efficiency, which of course makes no sense - but the only power was for sensors and a control valve as the water flow was single-pass under gravity flow, so no power was used to circulate the water.