What should every home and property owner know about HVAC warranties? For starters, it’s important to understand exactly what a legal warranty is, and what it isn’t. It might seem obvious to most, but there has always been a bit of confusion about the difference between consumer warranties and insurance policies. Take your car, for example. A typical warranty offers the consumer free repairs or replacement when the vehicle doesn’t operate as it should. Of course, the reason has to be the manufacturer’s fault.
Insurance has nothing to do with a manufacturer’s performance warranty. A standard comprehensive policy usually covers mishaps like theft, vandalism, and accident damage. So, it’s important to know how warranties operate when you read through the fine print of your HVAC system’s owner manual.
The good news is that high-quality heating and cooling systems often come with excellent warranties, some of which not only protect owners against mechanical breakdown but reimburse for labor, parts, full replacement, and more. The single best way to understand what you current warranty covers is to read the fine print of the document. If you can’t find it, contact the manufacturer and request one, being sure to let them know when you purchased your system, who you bought it from, and what its exact specs are, along with the model number.
The Benefits of an HVAC Warranty
The benefits of heating and cooling, particularly central air-conditioning, are widely known. Mechanized HVAC systems for homes are commonplace today, even if they were rarities just a couple generations ago. For example, in Japan and the U.S., more than 90 percent of all homes have central air-conditioning and heating. It’s clear that billions of people all over the world rely on their HVAC systems to provide safety from temperature extremes and comfort for their families.
So, if heating and cooling systems are recognized as almost a necessary part of the modern home, what are the benefits of HVAC warranties? Remember, if your system stops working, for whatever reason, you’re left without a way to stay warm in frigid winters and comfortably cool in the blazing summer heat. It’s no surprise that HVAC warranty benefits include the following:
- 1. Peace of Mind: Warranties for HVAC systems offer two types of reassurance: mental and physical. Homeowners with rock-solid warranties can sleep soundly when they know they won’t have to pay out a large sum of money in the event of an HVAC malfunction. Additionally, they needn’t worry about having to endure too many hours of life without protection from temperature extremes. In places like Saudi Arabia and the Southwestern U.S., an air-conditioning emergency in mid-summer can mean a serious threat to personal health and safety. Good warranties assure faster repairs of inoperative HVAC systems.
- 2. It’s Cost-Efficient: Consumers pay up front for warranty protection, and the outlay represents a very good value in terms of what they get for money spent. HVAC repair not under warranty can be pricey affairs, so it always makes sense for homeowners to opt for the longest-lasting, most comprehensive warranty they can get.
- 3. Weeds Out Unreliable Contractors: Manufacturers who offer skimpy warranties, or don’t offer them at all, are to be avoided. This is one situation where you can judge the quality of an HVAC system by the warranty that comes with it. If the maker is afraid to give you a good warranty with the system, you have to ask why they don’t have faith in their own product.
- 4. Maintains Your Home’s Value: People shopping for homes usually ask two or three questions about every property they view. “How old is the HVAC system and how much warranty time is left on it?” is typically at or near the top of the list. When you purchase an HVAC system with a long, complete warranty, you instantly add value to your home and make it that much easier to get your asking price.
What You Must Know About Your HVAC Warranty
As noted above, warranties for heating and cooling systems are similar to vehicle warranties. There are dozens of variations based on factors like time, coverage, reimbursement, shipping expenses (for replacement parts), labor, and more. Here’s a short list of what you should know before purchasing a new HVAC system.
- Claim Expenses: Read the manufacturer’s warranty document carefully. Some will charge you a fee to make a claim, even if the work clearly falls under the purview of the warranty. Many times these fees are quite small and only exist to prevent frivolous activity against the manufacturer. So, don’t negatively judge a manufacturer just because there’s a modest “claim-filing” fee in place.
- Voided Warranties: It’s possible to void a warranty if you use non-licensed contractors to repair the system, use non-approved replacement parts, work on the system yourself (never a good idea), or do anything to damage the unit that might fall under the legal definition of “abuse.”
- Exclusions: Nearly every warranty has a few “exclusions.” The most common is labor, payment for which usually comes out of your pocket. Consider purchasing labor coverage from your installer if they offer it and if the price is right.
- Life of the Warranty: Just like life insurance and vehicle warranties, every HVAC warranty has a stated life span. Longer is not always better. Compare costs with benefits. However, when you purchase a high-quality unit from a reputable manufacturer, it usually makes sense to opt for the longest term you can get, if there’s a choice. Sometimes you won’t have a choice if the unit you buy comes with a fixed-term warranty.
- Homeowners Insurance: Don’t expect your homeowners insurance policy to cover HVAC repair or replacement, unless the entire unit is destroyed in a covered event, like a fire, flood, storm, or earthquake. Consult with your homeowners insurance agent to see what specific events are covered for HVAC replacement.
- The “Best” Warranty: Is there a “best” warranty? Probably not, because coverage types and individual preferences are pretty wide-ranging. The safest thing to do is stick with the top manufacturers, opt for the longest term of coverage you can get, and only use reputable local installers. Consider purchasing an add-on labor warranty from the installer if the pricing is to your advantage.
Evaluate Your Installer
What happens after your shiny new HVAC system is installed and you need help with something that goes wrong? The manufacturer’s warranty has you covered for parts listed in the agreement, but you’ll usually still have to pay for labor. However, many installers (not manufacturers!) will offer to sell you an “extended warranty for labor” when they put your system in.
Remember that these “add-on” warranties are NOT from the manufacturer and are only as reliable as the installation company itself. So, if the installer goes out of business, you’re left with a worthless add-on labor warranty for which you might have paid a pretty penny. What’s the lesson? Protect yourself by only working with reliable, reputable installation professionals.
Getting Help When You Need It
Just knowing about HVAC warranties is not enough. If you own a home or commercial building, it’s essential to team up with a service provider that can guide you from day one. When you want the best HVAC systems, the best warranties, and top-notch customer service year-round, the Delaware Heating and Cooling team has the experience and state-of-the-art equipment to get the job done right.
You should spend as much time to choosing an HVAC system for your home as you’d spend buying a new car. Do research, ask questions, and consult the Delaware Heating and Cooling experts if you want detailed information about warranties, products, parts, service, or anything else.