Angie's List: How HVAC maintenance agreements work
The key to keep your AC humming along during the summer is proper maintenance. But if maintenance often skips your mind, many HVAC companies are offering yearly service agreements. Are these plans right for you? We weigh the pros and cons in this Angie’s List report.
“To catch something minor that could turn into something major like low on Freon could ruin your compressor," says Curt Hicks, an HVAC contractor. "It’s much better to catch a minor problem than wait until later and have a major problem.”Hicks says maintaining your unit is the key to keep your air conditioner working during the dog days of summer.
“The older the equipment gets the more maintenance it’s going to require," says Hicks. "They develop leaks and things break more when they get old and tired.”If you often forget to keep on top of maintenance, more HVAC companies are offering agreements where you pay a set annual fee to them to come out and perform necessary maintenance.
Most basic plans start around $150 and include a checkup and a tune-up for your system at the start of the summer and winter seasons. Some also include priority emergency service and a discount on parts. The more services the agreement includes, the more you pay.
“The drawbacks are your paying for the expense upfront and you may not need it," says Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List. "For example, you may not have a repair on your unit this year. So it’s important to understand the condition of your unit before you make the decision to buy a maintenance agreement.”And if your unit is in need of expensive repairs, it may make more fiscal sense to replace it.
“When deciding whether to repair or replace your AC unit, follow the rule of $5,000," says Angie. "If the repair cost times the number of years old the unit is more than $5,000 you should go ahead and replace. It it’s under, go ahead and repair. So, for example, if the repair costs $350 and it’s a ten year old unit that only multiplies to $3,500, so you should go ahead and repair in that scenario.”When picking a plan, Angie’s List reminds homeowners to choose a HVAC company that is honest, trustworthy, and reliable. Remember the maintenance agreement is only as good as the service provider backing it.
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