If HVAC No Longer Around: What Happens ?

Hello:
I am now pretty close to select a contractor for my new Trane 80 series furnace install. It's a big financial decision, and let me please post a few questions on what is causing me some concern.
Most of the HVAC contractors, if not all, are pretty small outfits; perhaps half a dozen people. All the ones I've spoken with seem competent, but am wondering if they will still be around in a few years. What happens then is what concerns me. [ (a) below is my major concern/question]
a. One or two, only, are listed on the Trane and/or Am Std web site. Most are not listed, but they ALL say they are "Authorized," whatever that really means. Can't get a clear explanation from any of them. What does it mean ?
How important is it to go with one that is actually Trane listed, or is listing on their site merely a function of how many units they sell, if they do that brand exclusively, etc., and not related to any "competency screening" ?
b. I'm assuming that most any contractor in the area can be called in the future, and they would just bill Trane for any actual Trane furnace warranty work. Right ?
But what happens regarding any peripheral problems that might develop such as with a newly installed thermostat., the Fast-Stat extra wires device that will be required, etc. Who would be responsible for repairs on them if the initial contractor is no longer around ?
Would this type of repair or just possibly an adjustment still covered by Trane's Basic, or their Extended warranty ?
c. If the "heat" malfunctions on a winter night, who do you call if the original contractor is no longer around; would this type of call be covered by Trane's warranty ?
d. Does it make any sense to (also) get the service contract offered by the local gas company to cover (any of) this ?
Thanks, B.
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Different things to different companies. Most "authorized" dealers have co-operative advertising, pehaps some company training, stock replacement parts for t hat brand. The manufacturer may have checked out the dealer for ability and financial soundness also.

In most cases, yes. The authorized dealer has a better relationship for that though. You may still have to pay the labor directly.

Read the specific warranty

Read the basic and extended warranty for details.

If the unit is still under warranty, yes, but after that period, you are on your own. At 2 AM, you'd be better off knowing who the dealer is that has emergency service.

Often, yes, if the price is reasonable it gives you some security. Read what is covered to be sure. . I've never had a service contract and I'm thousands of dollars ahead at this point.
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Robert11 wrote:

I can offer some comments on this subject relative to Trane.
I needed to replace both the 20 year old heat pump "compressor units" servicing my home last month. One had a worn out compressor, and the other one dumped it's freon when one of the three fan motor brackets cracked from vibration. The fan still ran, but motor and fan tilted down and the lower edge of the now wiggling motor came to rest on and wore a hole through a refrigerant line. (Damn!)
I felt I'd gotten plenty of good service from those two Trane units which had lived longer than I would have believed they could with only a few minor repairs I could handle myself. (I've since been told that the guts of those units were actually made by GE back then, but whatever, the Trane name was on them.)
I contacted Trane through their web site and asked for their recommendations for current equipment compatible with the air handlers in the house. They suggested a pair of units of the same capacity as the old ones, "one level up" from "builder's grade."
I called a local dealer listed on the Trane web site as a "Trane Comfort Specialist". The Trane site says all sorts of nice things about dealers deserving of that title, viz:
****************************************
All dealers are not created equal. Which is why you must be thorough when selecting one. But, here's something that will make your search a little easier. Just look for the Trane Comfort Specialist badge. It will indicate a Trane dealer of the highest standing a dealer that is committed to excellence in every aspect of his business, from installation and service, to customer care and employee training.
The Trane Comfort Specialist designation is not easy to come by. Dealers qualify for this honor on a yearly basis by meeting Trane's stringent standards for professionalism and technological expertise. When it's time to purchase a heating and air conditioning system, put your comfort in the hands of an Independent Trane Comfort Specialist dealer.
****************************************
So, I contracted with that dealer for the purchase and installation of the Trane recommended units, and since we are hoping to bail out of New England in the next four or five years, I bought a ten year transferrable parts and labor Trane factory warranty, figuring it might prove attractive to whoever buys the place from us.
The units have been in and seem to be doing their job OK for about a month now, but if the guys who installed them exemplify "Trane's stringent standards for professionalism and technological expertise.", then I'd sure hate to meet the ones who couldn't make that cut.
For example, the control wiring for the old units, installed by our builder's HVAC folks 20 years ago just came out through holes in the house siding next to the fused disconnect switches and was ty-wrapped to the foam insulation on the suction lines. That was probably not the most professional way of doing that, but it certainly worked all those years.
The new units had their wiring ports lower down on them than the old ones did, and the existing control cables weren't long enough to reach them. So, what does this "expert" do? He punches out a knockout on the backside of a disconnect switch, fished the old control cable through it and wirenutted on a longer piece of control cable to run back out that knockout and down to the unit. See:
http://home.comcast.net/~jwisnia18/temp/box1.jpg
On the other unit he just made a wirenutted flying splice, covered it with half a roll of tape and hid it behind the suction line.
I'm old enough to know that mixing 230 volts and low voltage control wiring in the same box wouldn't pass code in our town, or probably anywhere else in the civilized world, and complained about it to the dealer. To their credit, the dealer's service manager didn't give me any static. But if I hadn't known enough to spot that for what it was, it would have stayed that way. With my luck, when we went to sell the place, the buyer's home inspector would have picked it up and made me put it right it at my expense. (That's because my luck is usually spelled with three letters B-A-D.)
The crew came back and installed a couple of 2" x 4" weatherproof boxes next the the disconnects and put the splices in them. They also added weatherproof flex over the control cables, a distinct improvement over the original installation.
I could go on regailing you with my observation of the installer's "suck it and see" approach to getting the control leads connected up right. The concept of identifying the individual wire functions by observing the existing connections while removing the old units escaped them. That oversight resulted in a trial and error approach which fryied the defrost control board on one of the units so they had to get a replacement rushed out. They eventually got it right though.
I thought I was done with all the sillyness last week after spending a hour or digging out and replacing a wheelbarrow full of topsoil next to the concrete pad the compressor units are on. A few square feet of the ground cover growing there for many years died out completely shortly after the installation and a call to the Trane dealer resulted in the installer admitting he "might have" spilled about a pint of compressor oil right there out of one of the old units when he removed it.
But, yesterday as I was tooling by the new heat pump units on my 35 year old Snapper riding mower I heard a clank and a ping as a curved 6 inch long piece of old 3/8 copper refrigerant line (with freshly cut ends) got picked up out of the grass and flung against the foundation wall. Better the wall than someone's eye I guess, but wots next I wonder?
I haven't yet received my copy of that 10 year factory warranty I bought. It is supposed to be mailed to me directly from Trane. It's detailed on my invoice with a Trane product number but it's been over a month since I paid for it. I guess a call to Trane by me is in order, just to make sure the dealer didn't overlook telling them about it (and forwarding some of my payment to them.<G>)
Truth be told, I really think this dealership means well, they respected my understanding of the electrical code, made things right and we stayed friendly. But they can't micromanage every job and remain competitive, so I guess that means that "good enough" work is the best they can hope to average around here these days. So, I won't embarrass the dealer I used by revealing his name here.
Good luck to you on your warranty quest,
Jeff
--
Jeffry Wisnia

(W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)
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