There’s something very interesting about equipment warranties that you should know.
Parts & Labor Warranties
The manufacturer can’t control the way their equipment is installed. They have to rely on their dealers to do it right. That’s why they typically give absolutely no labor warranty. You will, however, often receive a labor warranty when you buy new equipment because the manufacturer may make their dealers sign an agreement stating that they (the dealer) will provide at least a labor warranty. The dealer is then typically reimbursed for the parts only! The labor costs come out of their pocket.
What happens is, a lot of companies (especially smaller companies) don’t add any “cushion” into their price. They want to sell everything as cheap as they can (because they get more business that way). That sounds great to the customer, but when equipment starts failing under warranty, it’s the customer who ends up paying the price.
At the very least, the customer usually has to endure longer waits, shoddier service and a “second class” treatment from companies that put their “paying” customers first. In extreme cases, the customer could be left without any labor warranty at all when the company goes out of business. It happens more than you might think.
Compressors & Heat Exchangers
Be careful when your salesperson starts talking about warranties. It’s really easy for them to tell you you’re getting a 5-year, 10-year, 20-year, or lifetime warranty and just gloss over the fact that their terrific sounding warranty is for that part only and doesn’t include labor.
The four different warranties you should be aware of are for your parts, labor, compressor (on an air conditioner) and heat exchanger (on a furnace).
Some HVAC companies offer a longer warranty as part of their regular service. They’ll even increase the parts warranty at their own risk. You’ll probably pay a little more, but it could be worth it. Look for the longest warranty you can find, but make sure it’s being given to you by a company that will be around for its term. If your equipment fails in the fourth year of a 5-year parts and labor warranty, but the company went out of business in the third, you’re out of luck.
In addition to these standard warranties, you can also purchase an extended warranty. These are sometimes offered by the manufacturer and almost always offered by the dealer. They usually provide an additional 5 or 10 years of parts and labor coverage and could be worth the extra money. Again, if it’s being offered by the dealer only, make sure they’re the type of company that’s going to be around for 5 or 10 years. You’ll usually end up spending an extra $600 – $1200 for this protection.
Be aware of specifics when your salesperson starts talking about warranties – they’re often very vague about their offer. Make them put everything in writing, including the times that warranty service is available and how long you’ll have to wait for service if it breaks down during the busiest time of the year (our questionnaire will help you with this). A lot of times they’ll throw around those heat exchanger and compressor warranties to try to make their warranty sound better than it is.
Some companies also offer preventive maintenance plans. We strongly recommend that you make use of these. The old saying fits, “They don’t build’em like they used to.” Nothing could be better for your new system than having it cleaned and tuned-up before each heating and cooling season. Preventative maintenance is to your heating/cooling system what oil changes are to your car. Not only will it help your system run better and last longer, but you could also void your warranty if the system is not maintained properly. It’s definitely worthwhile.
A lot of companies offer prepaid maintenance plans that cost less than what you would spend for individual tune-ups. Look for someone that has a good program. It’s usually well worth the investment.