Tag Archives: systems

Extended Warranties for Home Air-Conditioning and Heating Systems

Frequently, we learn lessons from other industries that apply well to home heating and AC.  The other day, I had to visit my independent auto mechanic shop. While in his waiting area, I overhead him tell another customer that he “never recommends his customers to buy third-party extended warranties on their car or truck”.  He went on to say that that third party warranty companies were diligent at selling warranties /repair insurance and collecting premiums, and not-so-good at being around later or paying out for claims.  In case the term is new to you, ‘third party” simply means a company not involved otherwise in the transaction.

While monitoring HVAC industry forums and news, what I have read seems to generally support my mechanic’s overall assessment on extended warranties offered by third parties.

First, let’s be clear on the difference in the types of warranties that you can buy for your home heater or air conditioner system. The following parties typically offer warranties on heating and A/C equipment, either when it is first installed or sometimes later. :

  • Manufacturer of the equipment
  • Local dealer or independent contractor who installed the equipment
  • A third party insurance or warranty company,  who is not the manufacturer or installing contractor.

Extended warranties will usually provide different terms for (or ways to dictate coverage of) the following:

  • Main Components  (compressors, condensers, heat exchangers, etc)
  • Parts (other than the above)
  • Labor to diagnose and fix any warranty claims (this can be a higher amount than parts)
  • An amount of time the warranty covers
  • Deductible (amount that must be paid by you later before warranty starts paying)
  • “Ordinary wear & tear”, abuse or neglect vs. a failure or repair covered by the warranty
  • Which repair company is required to do the work for you to be eligible for payment
  • Does the warranty pay for the repair directly, or do you have to pay for it and apply for reimbursement

Summary:

  • Higher efficiency or more sophisticated heating, cooling, heat pump or indoor air quality equipment increases your likelihood of needing /using  an extended warranty.
  • A yearly maintenance plan is something most owners should have but do not
  • If you only have budget for one of the two, go for a yearly maintenance plan over an extended warranty
  • Always be clear on what the manufacturer’s warranty covers and exactly what any extended warranty actually gains you above what you already have from the manufacturer or installer
  • If you have the discipline, you could take the money you were going to pay an extended warranty, deductibles, and excluded items and instead, put it in a savings account. You can use those funds to pay for your own maintenance and repairs later.
  • Regular maintenance will help prevent the need for repairs from neglect
  • If you decide to go with an extended warranty, those from a large manufacturer are usually a better bet than the other two categories.  Sometimes dealers are owned by the manufacturer. It helps you to know if they are or are not.

If you have experience related to this, whether you agree with the comments above or can offer something to the contrary, please post your comments.

Defective Drywall News Get More Involved – The Plot Thickens

In this post, we will follow up on our last blog entry about defective drywall in U.S. homes and reports of damage to inside components of AC and heating systems.

In case this topic is new for you, here’s a brief summary: Some types of drywall (aka sheetrock, gypsum wallboard, etc.) are being reported to emit hydrogen sulfide, which combines with moisture inside homes and building and damages copper in air-conditioning and heating  equipment, systems and wiring.  There have been complaints of other types of effects (to electronic equipment; and from humans) but our focus in on HVAC systems. This is a developing story that first aired earlier this year.  If estimates of the number of affected homes and the cost per home to fix the problem is accurate, we are puzzled as to why this is not getting more national mainstream media attention.

The plot seems to be thickening, because earlier reports mostly focused on drywall imported from China. However, now some recent reports are stating that sulphur gasses are being emitted from drywall from sources other than China.  While the reason(s) that the drywall is producing hydrogen sulphide is still being studied and debated, the effects to A-coils and other inside AC and heating equipment look like a big deal to us.  As is typically the case, determining who will eventually pay for the damage will probably drag on and on.  In the mean time, some unlucky homeowners are in a real fix.  Some say they can’t live in the house any longer, but and can’t sell it or rent it either.

Below , we are including links to the Consumer Products Safety Commission  CPSC, and also a report from the CBS news website on November 23.

Consumer Product Safety Commission CPSC Drywall Information Center Report

On the CPSC website, the agency states that it has received more than 2,000 reports from residents in 32 U.S. states and territories. Those complaints include health symptoms or the corrosion of certain metal components in homes, and are related to the presence of certain drywall produced in China.

CBS News Online Defective Drywall Story – November 23, 2009

This article from CBS News tell a similar story, and it involves laboratory testing for sulphur gases and countries of origin other than China.

In our opinion, it’s too early to know the scope of the potential damage.  If you would like to keep up with the story, you can bookmark us and can check back here.  Or if you want to receive alerts directly, check out Google Alerts and enter one of these terms: “drywall” or “defective drywall”, “drywall news”.  Then you’ll receive emails directly.

If your home’s AC and heating system has been affected, please share your experiences so others can learn.

Fall Reminder: Get Your Furnace Checked Now for Efficiency and to Help Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Our blog today is to remind our readers that fall is an ideal time of year to get your home or office furnace checked for safety and efficiency.  If you are on an annual preventative maintenance program with a local HVAC company, this should happen as one of your two annual system checkups. There is normally one visit in the spring for A/C and a second one in the fall before you need to start using your home heating for the season.

If the heat/fuel source for your heating system involves combustion, such as natural gas, the safety check for carbon monoxide is especially important.  The reason is simple: if the heat exchanger or other part(s) of the unit is not working as it should, toxic carbon monoxide (CO) gas can be accidentally introduced into your indoor environment.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and dangerous gas. You can read more about it on our website here

Don’t Skimp When Safety is Involved

We have heard lately that, due to the strain on household budgets, some homeowners are delaying not only the buying of new equipment, but even maintenance! Some are only requesting HVAC service when their heating or cooling stops working.  Bluntly put, carbon monoxide can be a serious threat, and it is not something to put off. Further, it should only be done only by a professional who is licensed, trained, and experienced in work with combustion heating systems.

If you have not had your home heating system checked yet this year, we urge you to do it today.

Maintenance will help prevent carbon monoxide from being produced.  You can also ask about a carbon monoxide alarm to alert you if something changes and carbon monoxide does get produced.  In addition to being safer, maintenance saves money on your monthly bill. Don’t wait! After you take care of this, please send us your experiences to us, so others can benefit from what you learned.