Monday, March 7, 2011

Tip 68: HVAC servicing

Today's tip actually comes to us from Matt's parents, who initially recommended we investigate this service after we moved into our home.

Tip 68: If you're a homeowner, sign up for a heating and air conditioning service agreement with a local company. It will give you frequent inspections and peace of mind as a type of insurance policy for your HVAC unit.

The reason I knew we had been using the incorrect air filter size is thanks to our HVAC servicer who told us so when he visited for his winter inspection last Tuesday. About two and a half years ago we finally signed up for this service. It took us over two years of living in our home before we got around to it, but I'm still glad we did it late rather than never.

What are the benefits of this service agreement?
Under our agreement we get a winter and a summer service visit, where the representative performs a thorough inspection and cleaning of our HVAC unit. I know it's thorough because the rep always stays longer than I think he should (which I take as a good sign) and we get the most thorough notes we've ever received from a maintenance person at the end of each visit.

Perhaps more importantly, though, we pay a flat rate each year for not only the two scheduled maintenance visits, but also, as the contract points out, "Emergency service will be available during weekends and holidays at an additional cost of $0 per hour." Our house and HVAC unit are only about nine years old, so we haven't needed to take them up on this offer yet, but it's good to know we can and we've already paid for it.

Additionally, our net sum payment also covers the cost of replacement parts. There is a catch here -- replacing the entire expensive HVAC system does not count as a "replacement part," but at this stage in our home's history one would hope we wouldn't need to replace the entire system anyway.

Perhaps most importantly, should we get to the point that we have to replace big-ticket items not covered under the "replacement parts" category, we would receive them at a discounted rate thanks to our contract and good faith effort in keeping our HVAC in working order. (Part of this agreement, of course, involves changing our air filter frequently!)

The company we use here in Northern Virginia is A Advantage, and we are locked into a yearly fee of $279.95 for this service agreement. If we use them for life and never break our contract, we'll pay this fee every year until we go to the grave. I appreciate the nod to customer loyalty. We have been totally satisfied with A Advantage.

Do you have an HVAC service agreement or another home maintenance service you'd recommend?

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