Unravelling The Mysteries Of HVAC Warranties: Here’s Everything You Need To Know

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A new heating and cooling system is a significant investment in your home. As you compare, pay as much (or more) attention to the warranties as you do to the model #’s and the prices.  High efficiency HVAC systems are a lot more complicated than they used to, so proper coverage has never been more critical. If something goes wrong over the life of your system, a good HVAC warranty will minimize your frustration and could save you thousands of dollars over the life of your system.

HVAC WARRANTY GUIDE

  1. Warranty Term:  A warranty’s term refers to its duration.  Most manufacturers advertise their 10 year parts warranty but if not registered, the warranty shortens to a 5 year term.  Choose an HVAC company that takes care of all the paperwork for you to ensure you get the term promised with your purchase.
  2. Parts Warranties: Warranties sometimes have varying time frames for different components of an HVAC system, such as air conditioner compressors, furnace heat exchangers, or other parts.  A heat exchanger may have a 20 year or even a lifetime warranty while other parts may be limited to 10 years. Keep in mind parts warranties do not cover labour. Find out if the HVAC contractor you are considering will charge you a warranty processing fee – this is a fee that some companies charge to handle the warranty-related paperwork even when the replacement parts are covered.  Also consider that parts warranties only cover the actual equipment. They do not cover everything required to assemble the product in your home. The list of parts not covered can be extensive and might include really important stuff like:
    • Venting, termination kits, and assembly
    • Gas lines, materials, regulators, etc
    • Refrigerant lines & weld joints
    • Condensate pumps, drain lines, etc
    • Any ducting changes, filter boxes, and other assembly items
    • Thermostats, humidistats, etc
  3. Extended HVAC warranties:  Manufacturers and installers often offer extended warranties that add from 5 to 12 years of parts and labour coverage.  Make sure you are dealing with a company you trust to actually purchase this warranty – it is an extra that needs to be registered after the installation.  Even if you have it in writing that you were supposed to have the warranty if it doesn’t get purchased by the HVAC company within the required timeframe you will not get the coverage.  In addition, learn all the details related to the extended warranty such as:
    • When is the warranty service available?  Extended warranties don’t cover overtime charges.  Will the dealer put into writing that they won’t charge you overtime if you need help outside of their regular hours?
    • How long will you have to wait for a tech to fix the HVAC system, especially during the busiest times of the year?  Find out if the company you are considering has enough technicians that its realistic for them to be there on the same day?  Do they offer 24/7/365 service?
    • Will you be charged for diagnostics?  Extended warranties typically do not cover diagnostic services or trip fees.
    • What about incidentals?  Extended warranties do not cover miscellaneous items like truck stock or refrigerant.
    • What if there’s a problem that stems from an installation issue?  Extended warranties do not cover problems with the installation – they expect the installer to do the job correctly (read on to learn about the value of a good installation warranty).
  4. How to void your warranty:  Simple innocent mistakes can cause problems with your warranty. Such mistakes might include:
    • Not hiring a certified licensed contractor to install the unit or make repairs after the installation.
    • Not registering the HVAC system and the warranty with the manufacturer in the required amount of time.
    • Not using approved replacement parts.
    • Failing to do annual scheduled maintenance (maintenance issues are never covered by manufacturer’s parts or extended labour warranties)
  5. Workmanship or Installation Warranties:  In addition to the manufacturer standing behind its products, a good HVAC contractor should stand behind the services it offers.  This means that in addition to providing you with the manufacturer’s warranty, the contractor offers additional protection in the event there is are installation-related issues.  This is the most overlooked and misunderstood part of your warranty coverages.  A good contractor provides this type of warranty in writing and it will be clearly defined as to exactly what it covers.  Learn all the details of this warranty such as:
    • What is the term of the coverage?  Workmanship warranties are whatever the contractor is willing to provide.  Some cover only 3 months, others cover up to one year. If a contractor really takes pride in their installations, the will provide workmanship warranties for 10 or even 12 years and they will put it in writing.
    • What exactly does it cover?  Find out if their workmanship warranty will extend to those items not covered by the manufacturer’s warranty (extended or basic). Ask about things like overtime fees, diagnostics, incidentals, trip fees, warranty processing charges, and installation-related issues.
    • What do you need to do?  Make sure you know what you are expected to do in order to maintain this warranty.
    • Get it in writing!  This cannot be repeated enough.  It is easy for a contractor to suggest they are providing this kind of extended coverage and then not do it.  If they do it, they will be able to show it to you. In addition to getting this in writing, check references and online reviews to find out if the company you are considering is really going to follow through.
    • Consider the fact that the longer a company is willing to warrant their workmanship, the more motivated they are to do a perfect installation.   There are many components of an HVAC system installation that might not show obvious issues until its been in place for months, or even years.

The warranties that come with your purchase should give you peace of mind and assurance that you will be covered if something goes wrong, no matter what the cause.  Never hesitate to comb through the fine details of the warranty coverages and ask questions if something doesn’t make sense. A reputable company will insist that you do!

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