by Christine Cristiano
Most homeowners know that an annual furnace cleaning will prolong the life of their furnace, improve efficiency and reduce emergency repairs. An emergency furnace daytime service repair call starts at $50 + before the service technician even arrives at your door. Additional charges for parts and labor can amount to another $100 to $300. Money savvy consumers are realizing the benefits of an annual furnace preventative plan.
What to Look for
Furnace preventative maintenance plans are designed to cover the costs for most parts and labor repair charges for your furnace. A legitimate plan will be underwritten by an insurance company. Avoid plans that are held primarily by the service company unless the plan is offered by an equipment manufacturer in which case the service company should be an authorized dealer.
A basic plan should include a thorough furnace cleaning and safety check to ensure that the equipment is operational before the plan can take effect. Avoid plans that don't require a cleaning because in some cases, the plan doesn't take effect until 60 days after the contract is signed. A good plan should cover normal operating failures of the mechanical, electrical and electronic components of your furnace and frequently replaced parts, including a thermocouple, sensor, gas valve, and ventor motor to name a few.
Most plans don't cover heat exchangers, thermostats, filters, ductwork repairs, nuisance calls and problems resulting from misuse, neglected or repairs made by an unauthorized source.
Choosing a Contractor
Before signing on the dotted line, assess the company offering the plan. Choose a contractor who's been in business for at least five years and ask for customer referrals. Most established contractors are manufacturer dealers for a name brand furnace line and belong to a state, province or national trade association. Clarify that the contractor supports your furnace brand and stocks replacement parts. Ask who's underwriting the plan and who's responsible if the insurance company or the contractor ceases operation.
Read the Fine Print
Be sure to read the fine print of your contract and investigate the following points:
- What's covered and not covered?
- Is there a limitation on the age of the furnace?
- Are there extra charges for after-hour, weekend or holiday calls?
- Is the plan transferable from one house to another or to a new homeowner if the property is sold?
- What's the procedure for submitting a claim? Is the invoice submitted directly to the insurance company or is the consumer required to pay upfront?
- Will the on-call service technician have documentation on hand to clarify that you've purchased a preventative plan in case you can't locate your copy?
- Are there any hidden costs not covered by the plan?
- Is the plan automatically renewed on the anniversary date?
Furnace Preventative Maintenance Plans Rates
Annual inclusive plans that cover all service, parts and labor for one year cost between $100 to $150. A limited plan entitles the consumer to a preset percentage reduction of the repair cost or there is a small deductible. These plans are slightly cheaper, but you will still be paying something towards each repair. Most companies offer a discounted rate if you purchased a plan that covers the furnace and central air conditioning system. Both units will have to cleaned. However, the air conditioning unit may not be cleaned immediately if the weather is too cold.
An inclusive annual furnace preventative maintenance plan selling for $ 135 costs just 37 cents per day. Not a bad investment for the peace of mind you'll have knowing you're covered if your furnace decides to breakdown on a cold winter's day.
Related links to HVAC trade associations:
National Association of Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Contractors
Christine Cristiano has been freelance writing for ten years and hangs her hat in Ontario, Canada. Her work has appeared in several local and national markets including Income Opportunities, The Toronto Sun Newspaper, Friends and Neighbors Newspaper, Epregnancy, writersvision.com, gardenandhearth.com, fundsforwriters.com and others.