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FAQs about Home Warranty

FAQ’s About Home Warranty Expectations

While Home Warranties can be a blessing and save you money on repairs, there are false expectations that homeowners have when it comes to the service and process.  In general, there is a tradeoff between money and time.  Home Warranties can save you money, but what isn’t understood very well is that there are no guarantees for time.  As you read these FAQs, that concept of time will become clearer.

1. WHAT IS THE PROCESS LIKE?

After we first visit the home, the HVAC Craftsman will assess the problem and try their very best to fix the repair on the spot. 

Small Repairs with Parts Needed:

If parts are needed, AND they are under a certain dollar amount based on your policy, we can acquire the part(s) locally and reschedule a repair visit in the next few business days.  Please be aware that the bigger the repair, the longer the process takes.  

Large Repairs:
Step 1: (Average 1 – 2 Business Days) 

A diagnostic report is communicated to the warranty company who then assess what course of action to take. Many times, we must do local research for the warranty company on part prices AND availability and then submit this information to them. Be aware sometimes we must wait on the local part houses to reply to our request so this process can take a few days especially if the part houses are out of stock or they themselves busy with other customers.

Step 2: (Average 2 – 3 Business Days) 

Your work order and our information are submitted to their authorizations department to be authorized for a specific repair (no more/no less). If approved, then your work order is sent to their parts department.

Warning: Just because you call the warranty company, and they tell you the part has been authorized doesn’t mean we will be out soon to install the part. The warranty company still has step 3 and 4 to complete.

Step 3: (Average 2 – 14 Business Days)

Their parts department compares our local price for the part vs. their national supplier’s price to determine who is cheaper. Usually for small to medium cost parts (motors, control boards, TXV’s, etc., they will authorize us to get the part locally. If the part is expensive (OEM motors, condensers, compressors, evap coils, furnaces, etc.) They usually purchase the part through one of their national supplies. If the partis available locally, we can get it within a few days. However, if the part is not available locally, the part is shipped in. This can take days or even weeks (especially during the summer). Be aware that some parts may be ordered from across the United States so this may take even more time. On rare occasions, the vendor will have to literally make a new part off the assembly line and ship it. This could take several weeks!

Please be aware that just because the part is scheduled to arrive at a certain date/time does NOT always mean we can have it installed that within the next couple of day, or even the next week depending on how large the repair is! Many times, their estimate is NOT correct! Remember it’s just an estimate. Trust us! WE DO EVERTHING WE CAN TO GET YOUR REPAIR DONE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!

Step 4: (Average 2 – 5 Business Days)

Once the part is confirmed to be available at the part house AND has been paid for by the warranty company to the local supply house, we can schedule your repair visit. Customers think the contractor just gets everything themselves, performs the work, and then gets reimbursed by the warranty company. This is NOT accurate! This ONLY happens on small repairs. Depending on the warranty company, they typically only automatically approve contractors to do repairs up to $250 and anything over that must go through the process. Some warranty companies only auto approve up to $100.

Grand Total of Average Time To Complete a Warranty Repair: 6 – 21 Business Days

2. IS EVERYTHING COVERED UNDER MY WARRANTY?

Most repairs to your equipment and are mechanical in nature are covered. Those things that are NOT mechanical (i.e. duct work, zoning systems, registers, filters, in depth cleanings of blower wheels and evap coils, etc.) usually are NOT covered unless you have purchased a more premium warranty policy. Also know that a tune-up doesn’t not include major cleanings. A tune-up checks the mechanical parts and may include a condenser rinse.

3. IF MY SYSTEM IS BROKEN, WILL I GET A WHOLE NEW SYSTEM?

Typically, not.  Your warranty covers repairs.  If the cost of all the repairs exceeds the cost of a new system, then perhaps you may qualify, but this is exceedingly rare. In most cases they may replace one or two pieces of the system only and that part just has to be compatible with your system and may not be an exact match to your original brand.

4. ARE WARRANTY COMPANIES REQUIRED TO REPLACE THE EQUIPMENT OR PARTS?

No.  Warranty companies try to repair the broken item first.  If the repair does not hold, and we are called back for the same problem at a future date, then the warranty company usually replaces the one piece of broken equipment/part with a new one.  Leaks in your system are prime examples.  The warranty company wants us to try and seal the leak first and see if that will hold. If that repair doesn’t hold over time, then a second work order will have to be put in by the homeowner and on the second repair, then the warranty company usually authorizes a replacement of the part.  This is a step-by-step process.

5. IS THE DEDUCTIBLE DUE BEFORE WORK BEGINS, AFTER THE INITIAL VISIT, OR AFTER THE WHOLE REPAIR PROJECT IS DONE?

Technically, your deductible/trade call fee is due upon arrival and must be paid for the work to begin.

6. IF I’M UNHAPPY WITH THE WARRANTY COMPANY, CAN I REFUSE TO PAY THE DEDUCTIBLE/TRADE CALL FEE?

No, the deductible goes to the contractor for their initial time, diagnostics, and services rendered, and not the warranty company, so the deductible must be paid regardless.

7. IF A WORK ORDER IS COMPLETE AND THE SYSTEM BREAKS DOWN AGAIN, DO I HAVE TO PUT IN A NEW WORK ORDER AND PAY A DEDUCTIBLE AGAIN?

Yes and maybe.

Yes, the homeowner must put in a new work order. The contractor is not authorized to put in a work order for a customer.

The deductible varies. If it is for the exact same repair within a short period of time (say less than 30 days) then you typically do not have to pay the deductible again. If the repair is unrelated to the first or time has elapsed, then a new deductible must be paid. If it’s a gray area, then the customer can call the warranty company and explain your situation and they may waive the deductible, but that’s up to the discretion of the warranty company.

An example of this is your unit is leaking and they ask us to add stop leak to repair the hole. The repair holds for a few weeks, but then starts leaking again. The work order is related to the first repair within a short time so typically you don’t have to pay for the deductible. However, if the unit start leaking again 3+ months from now, the warranty company may have you pay the deductible as they may consider this a new occurrence. Also, if the homeowner puts in a new work order two weeks after the repair thinking it’s the same problem but comes to find out it’s for a different problem (let us say your capacitor burns out) then yes you would have to pay a deductible again as this is not related to the first repair. The customer may ask why as the contractor was just there two weeks ago, but remember, at that time, the capacitor was working. The warranty company doesn’t replace things that are not broken.

8. IF MY SYSTEM NEEDS MAJOR REPAIRS, DO I GET TO CHOOSE WHAT KIND OF EQUIPMENT I GET?

No.  For cost reduction purposes the warranty company has agreements with national equipment vendors that have better prices as they buy in bulk.  However!  If you want something nicer, you can inquire about getting a ‘buy out’.  This means instead of the warranty company doing the actual repairs, they will give you a certain amount of money, that roughly equals THEIR cost of repairs in the form of a check.  You can then work with an independent contractor to get the brand, features, and efficiency you want.

9. HOW LONG DO THE REPAIRS TAKE?

We carry many small parts on our trucks to try and fix the smaller repairs on the spot.  However, be aware that there are THOUSANDS of parts for all makes and models of A/C equipment.  If your system needs a specific part, then it will have to be ordered which can take as little as a few days to a few weeks.  Worst case scenario, we have seen A/C units run out of stock during a heat wave which then took almost a month to get back into stock.  Please be aware that the warranty companies’ policy is to repair things, but believe it or not, there are NO guarantees for time to make those repairs!  Even during the Summer!  Which is why we strongly suggest homeowners think about buying a portable A/C unit for summer and/or electric heaters for winter as a backup safety plan, especially if your unit is getting towards the end of its lifespan. 

10. IF YOU GET A PART THAT IS LOCAL, CAN YOU INSTALL IT THE NEXT DAY?

Typically, not.  Unfortunately, in the HVAC world we can be booked out from 1-10 business days. We continually have other customers who are also waiting for their parts to arrive.  But be reassured that we make it a priority to get to everyone as fast as we can.  During the off season (October-March) the turnaround time is quick, while mid-season (April, May, and September) you can see some delays.  Peak season (June, July, and August) you can see long delays which is another reason we strongly suggest having your seasonal maintenance done early spring for the best chance to catch problems before the peak season hits.

11. DOES THE WARRANTY COVER EXTRA TRIPS OR TEMPORARY COOLING PROCEDURES UNTIL THE PERMANENT FIX IS IN PLACE?

No.  The warranty company only covers one initial trip and one follow up trip if a part must be ordered and we must return to install it.  Sometimes there are ways to provide temporary cooling until parts come in, but the warranty company does not cover these extra expenses so these extra expenses would be covered out of pocket.  An example of this is stop leak and adding refrigerant.  We are only allowed to try this ONCE!  If sealant doesn’t hold, we can NOT keep adding stop leak and more refrigerant for temporary cooling until the new part is ordered and installed.

12. ARE A/C SYSTEMS EASY TO WORK ON?

No, A/C systems are all about pressure and temperature and balancing these two through various means.  A/C systems are complex machines that are getting more complex over time. Add into the equation of airflow and you have a complicated system that always must be in balance to perform at its best. Please understand that sometimes it takes several trips to get all the repairs and adjustments just right.  And sometimes you diagnose and fix one thing just so you can move forward and diagnose the next thing in line.  

Think of this like a car.  You first must find a way to start the engine before you can move forward diagnosing other problems as you go.  But just because you have a new engine doesn’t mean it ready for a road trip.  Once you get the engine started, then you must diagnose how good your transmission is, your radiator, and your fuel system, etc.  

A/C systems are the same way.  If you are truly worried that your equipment is getting old and isn’t going to work, then the best solution is buying a whole new system and reduce the risk of having your equipment being broken down during a heat wave.  Preventative maintenance also provides an opportunity to catch things as they are beginning to weaken so they can be replaced before they fail.

WARNING:  Many warranty customers decline and/or neglect to do regular maintenance thinking that if the system breaks down the warranty will cover it. NOT TRUE! IF the system has no records of maintenance, or the system has broken down because of neglecting to do your maintenance, the warranty company will deny your claim.  

Examples are not changing your filters regularly, or even worse, not using filters. Having blower wheels and evap coils impacted with dust, grim, lint, and pet hair because the customer didn’t do regular maintenance is considered neglect by the homeowner.  This dirt and grim causes stress on your system which inevitably leads to failures.

Again, think of your car.  If you go 60,000 miles without an oil change, tune-up, or other maintenance and you blow your engine, the manufacturer’s warranty is voided.  It’s important to have A/C maintenance done every six months much like getting an oil change for your car every 3,000 miles.

13. DO WARRANTY COMPANIES PAY FOR REPAIRS ON NIGHTS AND WEEKENDS?

No.  Warranty companies do not pay night, weekend, or emergency rates.  You may classify your call as an emergency when filling out your form online, but that doesn’t mean you get faster service.  It just helps identify who may want quicker service from those customers who don’t.  All who request emergency service still go into the same que in the order received.  Remember, warranty companies do NOT guarantee time.  You can ask for emergency service through your contractor, but you are then responsible for the night/weekend/emergency fee out of pocket as those are not covered by the warranty.  

14. DO WARRANTY COMPANIES PAY FOR A HOTEL ROOMS OR PORTABLE A/C SYSTEMS?

No.  This is usually stated in your policy.  Again, your warranty covers the mechanics of your system only.  

15. DO HOMES WITH ELDERLY PEOPLE, CHILDREN, AND PEOPLE WITH SPECIAL NEEDS GET PRIORITY SERVICE?

Technically from the warranty company the answer is no.  It is all based on a first come first serve.  But with that said, our company will do its absolute best to take care of everyone.  Please realize that 90% of households have some combination of children, elderly people, and pets, so again…EVERY call is a high priority call!!

16. IS THERE ANY WAY TO GET MY REPAIR DONE QUICKER!

Unfortunately, no, the only way to speed up the repair process is bypassing the warranty process all together, but this defeats the purpose of having a warranty in the first place.  That is the tradeoff.  Paying less for repairs by sacrificing time and going through more ‘red tape’.  A heating and cooling contractor can almost always find other brands, vendors, and resources faster outside of a warranty company’s network because we have more options to choose from to get your repair done quicker, but this comes with a cost.  That means NOT going through your warranty company at all.  Unfortunately, this bypasses the cost savings that a warranty company can provide which is why you have a warranty in the first place.

Think of this like health insurance.  If you go to an in-network provider, the cost is cheaper.  If you go out of network, it’s more expensive.

16. CAN THE TECHNICIAN LIE TO THE WARRANTY COMPANY AND GET YOU MORE REPAIRS OR A NEW UNIT?

We hate even having to put this on the list, but unfortunately it happens more often than you would think.  This is unethical and we will not entertain such ideas.  Some companies will do this, but AIR4U will not.  Please don’t put yourself or the technician in this uncomfortable position.  If you want ways to save money, read our tips below.

MONEY SAVING TIPS ON MAJOR EQUIPMENT REPAIRS AND PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE.

If your system is less than 10 years old and needs a repair, then have the warranty company fix your system for sure.  But if your system is nearing the end of its life expectancy, think about getting the buyout and using it to get a new system.  It saves you time and money in the long run as over time your system will need more repairs more often.  By the time you add up your deductibles paid, lost time and inconvenience, as well as lost efficiency on your utility bills, you could have invested a little more for a new system and gotten a HUGE piece of mind.  

Also, If the warranty decides to replace part of your system (for example the condenser) then think about buying the newer furnace and coil that matches out of pocket and getting the whole system upgraded at the same time.  The warranty company is already paying a large portion of the repair for trip charges, freon, line set flushes, disposal fees, recovery and reclaim costs, etc. so take advantage of that!  Upgrade the rest of your system while we are doing the repair and save yourself that expense since the home warranty is paying for a lot of ancillary items anyway.  For recommendations, ask your technician for their opinion and if it will save you money.

Same thing even for small repairs.  The warranty company is paying the trip charge anyway so why not ask technician about replacing some of the common maintenance parts out of pocket while we are there.  Such as capacitors and contactors.  You could wait until they fail and have the warranty company dispatch us back out when it happens, but then you are paying the deductible again.  When you add up the cost of the deductible, plus your time spent possibly missing work to be able to meet the technician for an appointment, plus the time your system is not working (especially during a heat wave), you could have spent the about the same amount anyway and had a preventative maintenance repair done, saving you time and aggravation in the future.  In HVAC, preventative maintenance is key!

SUMMARY

This FAQ sheet is not meant to bring stress to customers, but to spell out what you can expect, and we would rather you be informed then left in the dark.  Warranties simply cover the unexpected cost of repairs which saves you money, but at the expense of time which can be frustrating especially when you need your a/c now

In the circumstances given, we are here to try and make the process go as smoothly as possible for you!

Thanks for the opportunity to serve you.

Sincerely,

AIR4U

*This FAQ sheet is not sponsored by any warranty company and is based on experiences the contractor has had over time.