Should You Get an HVAC Service Contract?

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HVAC Service

You’ve probably been hearing the idea of an HVAC service contract and are wondering how to get one and what exactly it entails. Well, not to worry, Anderson Air is here to ease your curiosity and give you advice on that matter.

First things you need to know;

What exactly is an HVAC Service Contract?

An hvac service contract covers preventive maintenance checks, including the labor (but not components). They occasionally might offer priority service and price discounts on components and other equipment.

Even though some service contracts clearly state all the particular items covered during preventive maintenance, the following are the general categories usually found in a typical full-service HVAC contract.

  •       Labor — including yearly maintenance checks, cleaning of ducts, etc.
  •       Minor components— ranging from extra screws, extra fuses, etc.
  •       Supplies — such as coolant and solvents
  •       Major components are usually not included. Pro Tip: They are occasionally offered at a discount price to service contract holders. (See why it’s important to have one?)
  •   Emergency service calls

HVAC contracts are usually purchased in advance. Your HVAC company will enter you into a dispatching system after your purchase and will contact you possibly in the fall and spring when your equipment is due for maintenance. This is similar to putting the maintenance of your HVAC system on autopilot.

Right before you sign a service contract for scheduled maintenance checks, think back and note the expenses you have had in the previous year or two related to your HVAC system.

It’s common knowledge that HVAC companies implore prepaid contracts because it eases planning ahead, but you could always request to “pay as you go.” To avoid paying for individual maintenance checks and certain repair jobs, you could get a service contract for your HVAC equipment. Many companies always try to persuade you to do this.

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If you are really interested in a service contract, take time to compare the prices and coverage of different contracts.

 Categories of service contracts

All hvac service contracts fall into three general categories:

  1. Contracts covering only the manual labor cost typically of either annual or semiannual planned preventive maintenance checks to inspect, clean, and fix equipment.
  2. Contracts that cover the labor costs for planned maintenance checks and for unexpected repairs.
  3. Contracts covering labor costs for both maintenance checks and repair plus costs of chosen parts.

In these categories, the coverage changes;

  •       First, there are contracts for only the furnace, for only air-conditioning equipment, and for both combined.
  •   Secondly, a few contracts cover work that others do not. Among maintenance-only hvac service contracts, the cost of cleaning air-conditioning coils is often excluded. Among contracts covering labor and/or components for repair, costly work such as replacing a compressor to less expensive parts like fuses are excluded. Ask for copies of the contract for any HVAC company you consider.

You’ll discover that the differences in contract prices are alarming. In some cases, the cost of one category of coverage for a year has a range of less than $100 to over $400 among HVAC companies.

To contrast the value particular HVAC companies offer, look for companies that cover ideally the same items. Also, find out what companies do on maintenance checks—point in case, do they clean your air-conditioning coils? Do not forget that some HVAC companies offer 24-hour service while others are difficult to reach outside 9-5.

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In our professional opinion, you’re probably better off not paying a full-service HVAC contract. It is better to pay for repair and service bills each time you need them done.

However, there are three main reasons for paying a full service HVAC maintenance contract

  •       To carry out preventive maintenance.
  •       To earn top priority service if your system breaks down
  •   To reduce the costs of large repairs (in a contract where repair costs are covered).

All you need to know about full service HVAC contracts.

Many HVAC companies market these contracts, stating that they ease efficiency by enabling them to plan work when demand is low, hence allowing them to avoid paying workers overtime during high work periods and employing extra employees to prepare for high demand periods.

Other HVAC companies will tell you that contracts are schemes their competitors use to earn extra profits at your loss. They’ll also insist that service contracts are a waste of your money by allowing unnecessary maintenance checks and emergency calls. Although there is some truth in both scenarios, the right solution depends on your situation.

If you need professional maintenance visits every year. For example, if you have a large house and don’t want to do even the simplest maintenance tasks yourself; a service contract may be the right solution for you.

Note: Don’t pay more for the contract than you would for the same number of visits it includes at regular labor rates.

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For maintenance visits less than once a year, paying for them one at a time may work for you. You can only get an hvac service contract because of priority service when you have unscheduled repair needs. It can also be an insurance for costly repairs.

But getting this service contract may still not protect you. ACs and furnaces often break down in extreme weather, and also, some HVAC companies may lack sufficient HVAC staff/technicians to handle the customer demand.

Although these companies send supervisors into the field and put technicians on overtime, they just can’t serve all their customers (even their priority customers) because they are short-handed. Many people complain that they wait for days to get an appointment for HVAC repairs from companies with which they have service contracts.

For quick service,  it may do you good to do without a service contract. Whenever you need repairs, call up a few HVAC companies and hire the available one.

If your goal in purchasing a hvac service contract is to shield yourself against expensive repair expenses, carefully evaluate the pricing of any plan that provides that degree of protection. And remember: The more costly repairs like replacing compressors and heat exchangers are not covered by most service contracts.

Conclusion

If you want a full service hvac maintenance contract, choose your company carefully. There are many complaints from clients who buy service contracts and later regret doing so. Some hvac contractors find something to repair for every service visit, using service contracts as twice-a-year opportunities to squeeze customers for unnecessary repairs.