We get this question asked by many friends, customers, and associates. Especially after this extreme heat this year, many people have indicated that next time they want to get their heating and cooling system checked out before the season starts. But, what do I look for? And how do I know I'm not getting "ripped off"?
First let's talk about the benefits of a "Clean & Check" or Maintenance Agreement program. Here are a few of the key benefits that you will receive from your investment each season:
1.) A proper cleaning of your unit will improve efficency and make sure your system is operating as it was design. Dirty systems may be operating several efficiency points below the original manufacturer's specifications.
2.) Maintaining a clean filter is one of the most important items you can do. It keeps your system running efficiently. However, a clean and properly maintained filter improves air flow which contributes not only to system performance but also to your comfort. Dirt will reduce the the life of your system.
3.) Systematic maintenance corrects minor problems before they grow into costly emergencies, and extends the life of your system.
4.) Many companies, like ours, offer priority service if you participate on their Maintence Plans.
5.) Also, most companies offer discounts on any repairs if you are on a Maintenance Plan with their company.
You should remember a Maintenance Plan is an annual agreement, and a "Clean & Check" is a one time event for each time you authorize it.
So, how do you know whether I am are getting a good deal and a reputable contractor? Let's look at pricing first. Many contractors will discount their plans through out the year. However, if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is. When a contractor offers a rate like $29.95, you need to remember "buyer beware". This level of pricing means you have a contractor that may purposely try to find a repair to increase the invoice even if it is not really needed. For example, they will add a pound or two of refrigerant to get the price up. Look for a price around $75 to $90. You should be able to get complete service at a good value in that price range. Note, if you have multiple systems, and/or additional system features like humidifiers, air cleaners, and UV lights, the price will be greater based on the number of sytems and the components that are included.
Look for a referral from a neighbor or friend. Ask them if they thought the contractor performed a detailed inspection of the unit. Ask them if they were charged any additional fees during the maintenance service. Did they leave a check list of items performed? If they cut corners here, they have probably cut corners in their service.