Have you recently been burned by high HVAC repair costs? Or have you purchased a new HVAC system and want to start off right taking proper care of it? If so, you may be thinking about investing in regular service and looking at HVAC preventive maintenance contracts for the first time.
You’ve probably got questions… and maybe you’re not quite ready for a sales pitch just yet so you’re reluctant to start making calls. Here’s some handy information about what to expect from an HVAC preventive maintenance contract how to begin evaluating your options.
Top 10 frequently asked questions about HVAC preventive maintenance contracts
Here are some of the most common questions we often hear from first time buyers of HVAC preventive maintenance contracts, and the kind of answers you should hear from a reputable and qualified vendor.
1. What do HVAC preventive maintenance contracts typically cover?
An HVAC preventive maintenance contract covers a number of regularly scheduled maintenance visits each year, when a technician will thoroughly inspect your equipment, clean and test the components for proper operation. The number of visits and the list of tasks covered will depend on the age and type of equipment you have, as well as the operating conditions and usage requirements. For example, a hospital HVAC system that’s constantly running 24 hours a day has different maintenance needs than a small unit for an office that’s only open 9-5 on weekdays, or a VFR system for a luxury residence.
Related Article: Spring AC Maintenance Checklist & Comparing Contracts.
You can also invest in a contract that covers more than regular maintenance: a full labor contract covers all the labor needed for repairs or replacements as well as maintenance, but you’re responsible for the parts. A full coverage contract is the ultimate insurance policy, covering all parts and labor, emergency service and preventive maintenance.
2. What if I have to cancel?
Most vendors understand that there are sometimes unavoidable reasons that a preventative maintenance agreement may need to be canceled. Many service companies will allow you to cancel your contract with 30 days notice.
3. When will I be asked to pay?
For a smaller contract, you’ll probably be asked for full payment upon signing the contract. For HVAC preventive maintenance contracts above $1000 or so, you can often choose the payment terms that work best for you: monthly, quarterly or yearly.
4. What is your response time?
Most vendors do not provide guaranteed response times in HVAC preventive maintenance contracts. However, the company should be able to give you reasonable expectations for repair response times. For example, if you call first thing in the morning, you can expect someone to get to you the same day.
5. Will I get priority service with a contract?
This is one of the benefits of HVAC preventive maintenance contracts that first-timers may not expect. As a loyal and regular customer, you’ll get moved to the front of the queue if you have a repair issue, so you’ll get faster service. That can be a lifesaver if you experience a breakdown during a heat wave!
6. Will I always get the same technician?
It’s reassuring to have the same service tech show up every time, and it can save you time as well. He knows the routine, he knows where the equipment is and what has to be done. But the downside is, what happens when that guy goes on vacation or is out sick?
You’re better off when a service company assigns a dedicated team to your account. That way, you’ll have that familiarity with people who understand what you need, but you’re not relying on a single person to always be there.
7. Will I get a reminder to schedule my maintenance visits?
Some companies send you a postcard to remind you to schedule your regular service, so you can stick it up on your bulletin board and try to get around to making that call. The vendors with the best service will call you at the beginning of the month when you’re due for service, and get it set up quickly and easily.
8. Can I lock in a rate for multiple years?
If you’re looking to manage expenses over a longer period of time, with a larger contract you can sometimes negotiate a 2 or 3 year agreement. If you’re confident about the vendor’s services, a multi-year contract can save you money and give you peace of mind knowing you can reliably budget your HVAC service costs.
9. Can I schedule maintenance around the needs of my business?
From a company that truly cares about customer service, the answer should be yes. In fact, this is one of the best ways to tell if you’re dealing with a company that will rise to the occasion and do what you need. Here’s a common example: if you’re running a restaurant, you probably don’t want service people cleaning the vents in your dining room during lunch or dinner hours. That means the HVAC service company may need to get your maintenance done early in the morning before you open. The hours when your service is performed should be negotiable based on your needs.
Related Article: 4 Things You Better Be Getting With Your HVAC Maintenance Contract.
10. Will my contract automatically renew?
In most cases, your contract will automatically renew at the end of the term, with a small cost of living price adjustment. If the contract doesn’t mention renewal terms, it may be because the vendor quoted a rock-bottom price to get your business. You may face a hefty increase when you go to sign up for year two.
HVAC preventive maintenance contracts should be designed for your needs
Here’s one of the most important things you should know before you start shopping for an HVAC preventive maintenance contract: they’re not one-size-fits-all. The terms of the agreement should be customized based on the equipment you have, the level of coverage you’re comfortable with, and your specific needs.
Want to make sure you get everything you want, need and expect from your HVAC preventive maintenance contract? Learn more about contract pricing, benefits, and types of service providers with our free guide to HVAC Preventive Maintenance Contracts: How to Find The Right One For Your HVAC Infrastructure.