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
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.
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.
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:
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.
Hey, I appreciate your comments. I think may have left some
misconceptions. Comments inserted below.
I don't disagree with the air, but I was refering to the
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
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
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.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.