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HVAC Service Contract vs. Homeowners Warranty

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Last Updated on April 2, 2019

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Have you recently moved into a new NYC residence? Congratulations! You’ve finally found the perfect home for you, and naturally you want it to stay that way.

Like many new homeowners, you may be thinking about purchasing a homeowners warranty to cover unexpected failures to major home systems like heating and cooling equipment. You may also have received a homeowners warranty as part of your purchase contract. If so, you probably feel like you’ve covered all the bases and you can breathe easy.

Not so fast.

The problem with a homeowners warranty is that while it may cover the expense of a major breakdown (and often not all of the expense), it can’t do anything about preventing that breakdown in the first place.

That’s why you need an HVAC maintenance agreement.

What is the difference between a homeowners warranty and an HVAC maintenance agreement?

A homeowners warranty is basically an insurance policy. If a covered breakdown occurs, at least some of the cost of the repair will be taken care of. In many cases, the cost of the repair can exceed what’s covered by the warranty. You’re gambling that eventually you’ll get back what you paid for the homeowners warranty by saving on repairs.

An HVAC maintenance agreement covers a list of basic maintenance tasks at an agreed-upon price. Your maintenance agreement can be expanded to cover repair parts as well. You can even get a full-coverage agreement that completely covers the cost of any and all repairs, including parts and labor, over the period of the agreement (usually one year). You can choose to cover only one system (like your air conditioning unit) or all your HVAC equipment. With an HVAC maintenance agreement, you can customize what’s covered based on your needs, your equipment and your budget.

IMPORTANT TIP: Did you know that your homeowners warranty probably won’t cover repairs if you have neglected maintenance? So that homeowners warranty won’t really protect you against HVAC breakdowns without an HVAC maintenance agreement.

Related Article: Q&A About HVAC Maintenance Contracts.

What you get with an HVAC maintenance agreement

1. Enhanced comfort.

A homeowners warranty can’t do anything to make your equipment work better. HVAC maintenance, on the other hand, keeps your equipment operating efficiently, so you’ll avoid those hot and cold spots, humidity issues, and air flow problems that create stagnant air in your home.

2. Prevention of heating and cooling breakdowns

HVAC maintenance is like changing the oil in your car; you need to do it every so often to prevent breakdowns. Your air conditioning and heating equipment experiences the same kind of wear and tear during peak heating and cooling seasons.

Cleaning the coils, changing belts and filters, checking electrical connections, checking refrigerant levels and blower components prevents parts from failing and causing bigger issues.

Related Article: 8 Ways AC Preventative Maintenance Keeps the Repairman Away.

3. Faster response when you need a repair

You may wait days for homeowners warranty repairs, which will not be fun when your air conditioning gives out on a 90 degree day (let’s face it: air conditioners never break when it’s below 80).

With an HVAC maintenance agreement, you’ll get priority response if you do need repair service. In many cases, you can get same-day service, or possibly next day if you call late in the day.

4. Better pricing

You’ll get the best deal on the cost of maintenance and repairs with an HVAC maintenance agreement. Not only that, but you’ll know exactly what’s included and you can budget for that in advance.

Homeowners warranty companies are trying to make more money off your contract, so the price for your repair can be much higher than the going rate. You won’t be able to shop around for the best price, because you don’t get to choose the vendor, so you pretty much have to pay what they charge. And since warranty repairs often require a deductible, you’ll still shell out a pretty penny even if some of the cost is covered.

Related Article: HVAC Service Contract Pricing Guide.

5. Energy savings

Another little known benefit of an HVAC maintenance agreement is that you’ll see a reduction in your utility bills. When your equipment is properly maintained, it works more efficiently and uses less energy.

Just as your homeowners warranty can’t increase your comfort, it can’t save you energy either.

6. Lower total cost of ownership

The comparison between HVAC maintenance and oil changes is appropriate here as well. Your car will last longer when you change the oil regularly. When your heating and cooling systems are taken care of, you can add years to the expected life span.

A homeowners warranty certainly won’t make your equipment last longer.

7. A relationship with a trustworthy service provider.

With a homeowners warranty, you don’t get to pick the service provider who will work on your equipment. You have to deal with whomever they send, and you’ll have no idea whether the vendor is qualified or ethical.

When you sign up for an HVAC maintenance agreement, you have a chance to get to properly vet the provider and make sure you’re making the right choice. Over time, you’ll establish a relationship with a team of people who know you and your equipment. That means you’ll get quality service you can count on.

It’s the plain truth: HVAC maintenance doesn’t cost, it pays. Want to learn more about getting the right agreement to give you reliable heating and cooling all year long? Check out our free guide: HVAC Preventive Maintenance Contracts: How to Find The Right One For Your HVAC Infrastructure.
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