If your HVAC is still under a manufacturer’s warranty, you want to get the most out of it.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, up to 3 million residential HVAC systems fail every year. In many cases, it’s just old—an HVAC system isn’t designed to last for 50 years. However, in some instances, an HVAC goes down months or even weeks after installation. Warranties vary, but if your HVAC has failed in the first year, the dealer can probably help you.
Dealers often replace parts and even pay for the labor during the first year after installation. You may also be able to choose your own HVAC technician, just like you can choose your own mechanic when your car is in an accident.
Dealers feel responsible if a unit they installed fails within 12 months, but they won’t feel so closely tied if somebody else sold you the unit.
If you don’t remember who the dealer was, check with the manufacturer. Hopefully, the owner sent in a product registration card, and if so, the manufacturer recorded it. If you’re in a brand-new home, the builder also might be able to tell you. As a last resort, check the HVAC system. Sometimes contractors post a sticker on the unit with their information.
If all else fails, don’t worry — the parts warranty will remain even if the dealer isn’t around anymore (or you can’t find them). In this case, the labor will be charged to you, but you’ll still save a bundle.
Before hiring a tech, ask if they have a warranty processing fee. This pays for the technician to handle the warranty paperwork. There’s no standard fee, and you may be able to negotiate a lower one. If you’re being charged a flat fee (not time- or materials-based), ask how the warrantied parts affect the fee—hopefully they are subtracted from the final bill.
Never assume that an HVAC tech will check the warranty for you. Check warranties yourself by calling the manufacturer and providing them with the serial number, model number and information on when the unit was installed. You then can tell your contractor if the unit is under warranty.
Make sure to keep all invoices, receipts and other documentation. If your HVAC tech can’t fix the unit, be patient, but know there’s a limit. You don’t want to keep paying for costly service calls, and it may be time to get a second opinion.
Ultimately, the issue might need to be handled by the manufacturer. They want you to be happy with your purchase, so if you’re persistent but polite, you can get a resolution. In serious cases, you may need an entirely new unit, but that’s a last resort. Communicate clearly with the dealer and manufacturer. It can take time to get a resolution, but it’s well worth it.
Fortunately, most HVAC systems don’t have major issues in the first few years. You can help ensure a smooth process by researching HVAC systems and technicians. Call Roberts Mechanical for an inspection, service call or help in quickly resolving an issue with a complaining HVAC system.