Annual HVAC Service contracts.

Annual contracts are great for the homeowner that has a problem with changing out the air filter, or washing out the outside coils of a heat pump / a c unit, or hasn't the time, tools or knowledge to oil a motor, or spot a potential visual problem.
The agreement also gives the home owner a brake on part replacement cost, and they normally provide you with faster service in the event of a break down.
On my last agreement they did change out the humidifier screen, a new air filter, a flame sensor indicator, oiled the furnace motor, checked the heat exchanger for cracks, checked the burn color of the flame. In the spring they oiled the outside unit motor, combed out the fins on the coils ( hail damage), hooked up gauges to check the charge.
This cost was $165 a yr. Not to bad, I only did this one time in 10 yrs., due to the hail, as it was just as cheap to sign up for the agreement, as to pay for a service call, and labor cost once on the job site.
I oil the motors myself, wash out the coils outside, as needed in the summer, and changed out my filter monthly. The humidifier is not in use as I maintain 30-35% in the winter. I remove and wipe off the flame sensor a couple of times a season on the furnace. I bought and maintain carbon monoxide detectors. My owners manual only recommended oiling the motors every 3 yrs.
After about 5yrs on my new units I may have them serviced,( both motors require no oil) only to make sure they are working efficiently, the 10 yr. parts and labor warranty should cover the rest. I will maintain the outside unit.( keep it clean )
My reason for this is I feel that the cost of the agreement, eats up the savings in utility cost, a no brainier.
Tom
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Don't forget one additional advantage of service contracts. It helps build a relationship with the provider. Then when the sudden heat spell means everyone is calling to report a dead A/C, you should be nearer the top of the list.
For other people it may also mean they may get their unit inspected more often and not miss the failure about to happen or a dangerous situation.
That is not to say they are right for everyone. I am sure many are nothing more than profit tricks and sales tricks by the provider. But others are really legit.
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Joseph E. Meehan

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I understand that service on some stuff is needed, but heck, I don't do any service other than occasional cleaning on my refrigerator or my freezer, and I don't do service on my electric stove or microwave either.
Why do I need to do service every year on my A/C? Don't they make a decent product, since it doesn't work as much as my refrigerator? After nearly 20 years I did have my A/C serviced as part of a free deal for installing a gas furnace. He cleaned the inside unit, and he cleaned the outside unit (wasn't dirty because I keep it clean). Then he measured the power draw and said it was probably failing because it read low (low amps). He looked at the relay and said it needed replacement which we declined at about $200, and he oiled the motor. Two years later my wife heard the gurgling at the furnance and the air didn't seem as cool as before, so we called another person who looked it over, didn't find anything indication of anything wrong with the motor or relay, but added 1/2 pound of freon since the pressure was a bit low. The last guy charged $55. Now why should I pay a capital cost $1400 and then spend over $2000 for maintenace ($100 a year for 20 plus years)?
Sure a gas furnace needs mainteance, but an electric furnace doesn't. The guarantee however may be dependent on regular maintenance. My furnace needed a new control board in the first year and this year (nearly four years) it needed the inductor motor resealed. I didn't have to pay for the call because they agreed that regular maintenance would have made any difference. And, the guy noted that the burners were working properly and the flame sensor was clean. So I have my choice, pay $105 for the furnace maintenance once a year, or $85 twice a year for furnance and A/C. Doesn't sound like a good deal to me.
Joseph Meehan wrote:

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I guess I will have to get the waranty agreement on my unit and, see if it states that a scheduled maintance must be preformed annually , other than a clean air filter inside, and clean and unobstructive coils on the outside unit, in order to validate the warranty.
Tom
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Hey, I appreciate your comments. I think may have left some misconceptions. Comments inserted below.
CBhvac wrote:

work of the refrigerator. The A/C isn't on for at least 6 months and in 4 months it may be on only 5 days. For two months it is used a lot more and is on as many as 20 days a month but on continously (24 hours) only 5-10 days. All of this varies considerably from year to year. In some years it may not be run more than 30 days in a year and may not be run a continous 24 hours more than once. If this were the south, my view would be considerably different.

I don't know what he was doing but I assume that if the compressor is binding up then the draw would be high. He kind of indicated that the low reading was the motor going, but that didn't bother me much. Glad to hear you thought he was full of bull.

No, he cleaned the fins with some type of liquid cleaner, he took the top off and examined everything, measured the motor draw, put his manifold on and looked at pressures, and looked at the relay contacts and said they were burning and probably would last too long. $200 sounded rediculous to me. Glad to hear tha it was.

First you need to be clear that this guy was not the same one that inspected it first and made the comment about the relay and the motor. I'm not sure what all he did (memory is bad) but he spent a lot of time reading the manifold (don't know what else he was adjusting) and was hesitant to add freon because the readings were very close to the normal range. And yes, he did use a scale. Again, I can't remember now exactly what all he did, but nothing I saw indicated that he was either incompetent or trying to screw me.

Well, this guy was from the company that installed the A/C, even if it was 20 years ago and I did get a discount for being 64. He said the company finds that its best customers (meaning the ones have the best record for paying bills) are over 60 so they give a discount. I think the charge would have been about $70 without the discount.

You are right, I don't. It is not my experience to have to spend a lot of money to maintain any appliance. Paying more in maintenance that in capital cost over the life of an appliance doesn't make sense.
You surmise wrong about the cars. I've never owned a $40,000 car and likely never will. All but two of mine were used, and I usually did all the maintenance and repairs within my capability at a very low cost over the period of ownership. I never changed the oil in a transmission or the rear end and I never had a problem or a failure. Most of them I owned for more than 8 years and one for 20+ years with a minimum cost for maintenance. Parts wear and need to be replaced and I have done a lot of brakes, but I never turned drums or disks. My vehicles were very reliable except for an occasional bad battery, alternator quitting, or water pump seal failure; I never hesitated to drive anywhere for fear of brake down.

You follow this. My cost to install a gas furnace, gas water heater, and electronic filter in a house that did not have gas was $2,500. The cost would have been $2,300 without the filter and I would have expected the furnace and water heater to have cost no more than $2000 if it was a simle replacement. A friend of mine with a much larger house had his furnace (about 2 size larger than mine) and A/C (also larger than mine) replaced for $3200.

Wrong? there is nothing to maintain except the blower motor, nothing else moves. The heat elements either work or burn out. In fact, one set of elements was burned out, but we didn't know it operated as it always had (for all I know the one set was burned out at the time of installation). We replace the unit, not because it didn't work, but because gas was much cheaper.

The control board failure was covered because it went bad in the first year, before an annual maintenance would have been done. Took them forever to figure out what was wrong because the replacement board was bad out of the box. The last call was after nearly 4 years and they replaced it under the warranty. The mechanic called in to see if it was covered and his supervisor said that regular maintenance would not have found the incipient failure, so it was covered even though I had not done maintenance in the previous 2+ years.

Nope. I explained this elsewhere but you may not have read it. The furnace would come on and operate normally then the burner would go off and come back on before the blower motor stopped, with maybe 3 or 4 repetition, or maybe the blower would go off, and the inductor not start again for some time even though the air temperataure was well below the thermostat setting. He asked about the filters and air flow and was told there was no problem. Then he visually checked the operation of the burner (removed the front panel on the burner) and noted everything looked good and surprising clean, checked the electrical relay and the vacuum for the inductor. Electrical was ok but the vacuum reading was very close to minimum reading. Finally, he took the inductor fan off and found the seal to look bad in one spot. Cleaned the fan, applied sealing calk, and screwed it back on. The vacuum reading was about double what it had been. He did not other repairs or maintenance. This was a fix it call, not a mainteance call.

I don't agree. Anything that costs more for maintenance that capital cost in a 15 year lifetime is poorly made and I sure wouldn't by any such thing if I anticipated. Motors last a long time (like 20 years) and electronics either go bad quickly or last a long time. A 15 to 20 year life is nothing exceptional. I understand that the burner and the oxygen sensor need to be cleaned, but the rest of the stuff is just plain parts failure. I asked what they did for their regular maitenance and it seemed to include cleaning the burner and oxygen sensor, cleaning ducts (which is a rip off), checking air flow and checking filters (like I can't do that), but they didn't say anthing about much of the stuff you mentioned above, so I assume they wouldn't do it. BTW, I have a 15,000 mile maintenance on my pickup and other than checking fluid levels and all sorts of stuff the I do myself) the only thing they really do is change the fuel filter for $105. Well at $6.00 for the fuel filter, I am going to by pass this one.

No, I haven't been really screw, although my wife thinks so. No problems with an electric furnace in 20 years and a control board failure in 1 year and the seal problem in 3 years, seems like a disaster to her, since the furnace would operate correctly in both cases. Personally I would expect it or any appliance to run for at least 5 years with no falures.
My pickup is a whole lot more complicated that a gas furnace and even includes an A/C and yet I don't expect to spend as much money on maintenance as you suggest a gas furnace would need. If that's true, I'll just go back to electricity since prices on gas have increased so much in the last 2 year, eliminating any cost advantage of gas.
BTW, I'm not ragging on you and I appreciate the comments.
((Snipped))
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Joseph E. Meehan

26 + 6 = 1 It's Irish Math
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