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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    4
    I'm a professional plumber and the plumbing industry in general does not require or suggest annual inspections. I had a new American Standard Freedom 90 - Comfort R system installed in my home 2 years ago. The installation looked very good with metal ductwork, turning vanes etc. The system performs very well but I received a letter from the installing company suggesting twice a year maintenance. How often should this system be checked? Couldn't they do the furnace and A/C maintenance just once a year? How often in the absence of obvious problems should this be done?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Jacksonville, FL.
    Posts
    4,313
    Yes, the system should be maintained at least once a year. Of course only if you wanna keep the mfg. warranty valid.
    WHY?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN, USA
    Posts
    34,599
    On the furnace, the flame rod should be wiped off and the drain flushed. The burners should be checked to be sure not dusty or have lint. Hopefully it is using outside air for combustion.

    The outdoor coil on the A/C should be rinsed off and refrigerant level checked.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2000
    Location
    Upstate, SC
    Posts
    2,920
    And think about too that you are talking about the 3rd most expensive purchase a homeowner makes behind their house and their car, so it does make sense to properly maintain it. Take the cost of it and divide by 10 to get the costs per year to have it, if it lasts 10 years. Then calculate it lasting 15 or 20 and see how much difference it makes. A properly operating systems saves on the monthly utility bills too.

    Bobby

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    2,635
    The answer to your question is not as clear cut as it might seem.

    Yes, they can do both at the same time. It's easier to check the furnace during somewhat warm weather than it is to check the air conditioner during cold weather. So if you're going to do both then do it during mildly warm weather if at all possible.

    Even once a year is not such a clear cut recommendation. Take a look here. As long as you replace your filter there is zero proof showing that every year is any better than every other year. One OEM even concedes this point to some extent. I think this came from Carrier:



    Understand that the primary purpose of a maintenance contract as it has become in this new era of of the consolidator is to benefit the contractor. A residential HVAC company's worth is heavily influenced by how many maintenance contracts they have on file. Their ability to fill in the slow times is dependent on maintenance contracts. And even though the maintenance contract is priced cheap, they increase revenues. Studies have shown that a maintenance contract customer buys more, buys more often and shops around less. I have been to quite a few business training meetings since going out on my own. The number one thing they monolithically harp on is maintenance contracts. The actual worth of the service to the customer is rarely discussed. It's all about the $$$. You want proof of that? Most of those same shops that harp on yearly maintenance contracts haven't a clue how to do combustion analysis. Their techs aren't even equipped with combustion gas analyzers. A furnace maintenance is worthless without one.

    By no means does every contractor subscribe to what I described above. But it is the dominant business model. In the end I think you should take in all opinions and do what you feel comfortable with. And in addition to what baldy said, make sure they do a combustion analysis. Looking at the purty flame color doesn't cut it.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Seabeck, WA
    Posts
    1,870
    On a newer furnace / ac I would go every other year.
    Live for yourself and ask no one to live for you.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Derby City
    Posts
    3,968
    I agree to disagree that the 'worth' of a lot of residential contractors is measured by how many maintenance agreements are on file. You may also find it a bit surprising that not only do we have plumbing maintenance agreements in place, but also have continuing inquiries from those interested in having them. If you truly believe the maintenance contract is intended to benefit the contractor and NOT benefit the customer, then I don't know what kind of maintenance you perform, but the ones we do, certainly reflect as a benefit to the homeowner. royboysc, different equipment will also require varying levels and types of maintenance. A professional should always be called in when servicing the equipment with the possible exception of filter changes.

    On the note of once a year service, not only can you check both during slightly warmer weather, but there is less chance of a problem developing with the furnace through the course of the summer, than with the a/c through the course of the winter.

    I recommend at least, yearly service whether with a service agreement or on a call-in basis.
    Everyone has a purpose in life..........even if it's to be a bad example.

    Seek first to understand, before seeking to be understood.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Jacksonville, FL.
    Posts
    4,313
    I don't know if I totally agree with the article linked in Irascible's post. I know for a fact that we not only offer bi-annual maintenances but we also offer head-of-the-line privileges & discounts of 10% on equipment & 20% on repairs. Someone please tell me how that does not benefit the customer?
    WHY?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    2,635
    Originally posted by John Lloyd
    I agree to disagree that the 'worth' of a lot of residential contractors is measured by how many maintenance agreements are on file.
    Your words seem to imply that I said an entire company's worth is based on that. I said no such thing. I said it's heavily influenced. And I'm talking its worth if sold, not its intrinsic value in any other sense. If an owner sells his company its yearly revenues, profitability, the number of maintenance contracts and whatever else all go into determining its selling price.
    Originally posted by John Lloyd
    If you truly believe the maintenance contract is intended to benefit the contractor and NOT benefit the customer, then I don't know what kind of maintenance you perform, but the ones we do, certainly reflect as a benefit to the homeowner.
    As it relates to the maintenances that I do I believe no such thing. I very clearly put the qualifiers on my statement. The first being “as it has become in this new era of of the consolidator”. The second being “By no means does every contractor subscribe to what I described above.” It is clear that I describe a certain type of shop and leave an out for plenty of others. I don't perform sham maintenances and I never said you do either.

    [Edited by Irascible on 10-09-2005 at 11:23 PM]

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    2,635
    Originally posted by special ed
    I don't know if I totally agree with the article linked in Irascible's post. I know for a fact that we not only offer bi-annual maintenances but we also offer head-of-the-line privileges & discounts of 10% on equipment & 20% on repairs. Someone please tell me how that does not benefit the customer?
    Not totally agreeing means you agree somewhat. I'll take it.

    Certainly priority status and discounts are a good thing. But they're not part of the maintenance, which relates to my criticisms about certain shops. (And for the love of Pete don't assume I mean you! I have no idea what kind of shop ANY of you belong to and have not pointed a finger at anyone specifically.)

    I worked for a company for quite a number of years that was first part of Contractors Success Group and then eventually got bought by Service Experts. They harped on the maintenance agreement incessantly. Sell, sell, sell. Get your spiffs. Get the customer his 10% discount. But missing in all of that was anyone who gave a d@mn about the maintenance itself. Not one of the dozen service men even owned a combustion analyzer. Nor did we ever talk about maintenance procedures. We had 12 guys and 12 different maintenance plans. Yes, something was published from the marketing department about what we would do on a maintenance. And we would usually be informed about that by a customer who'd show us the ad.

    Since going out on my own I've been able to see the bigger picture. Going to business training meetings has allowed me see the business model explained in great detail and listen to the comments of other owners. From that I have no doubt that the majority of the major corporate shops run the same way.

    My view on how maintenance is handled by a lot of corporate shops is of course opinion. I can't prove it with a survey or study. Feel free to disagree. Just don't take it personal. I mentioned no one by name... yet.

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