Residential HVAC warranties might seem complicated, but they don’t have to be. For one thing – and this is a positive – truly bad equipment warranties are hard to come by. Most equipment makers offer a similar warranty on new systems, and the terms are pretty good.
Due to the dynamics in the market, warranties for HVAC equipment are quite different from other large purchases you may have made in the past, such as a car or stove.
The main thing to know about warranties on your heating & air conditioning equipment is that the repairs they cover involve expenses for both parts and labor, which have different types of warranties associated with them. HVAC parts are generally under warranty for a number of years by the manufacturer that made them, and labor warranties, where available, are provided by HVAC service companies or third-party insurers associated with them. We’ll discuss both types in the guide below.
How Important is a warranty, anyway?
You are probably wondering if buying an equipment warranty on your new HVAC system is necessary. With some products, warranties feel like a waste of money. Not true with your HVAC system! HVAC warranty is very important. As we’ll see in just a moment, there are variations of warranties out there, and you really ought to know how to separate the wheat from the chaff.
But is a warranty as important as, say… installation quality? What about pre-installation analysis, like load calculations and system sizing? All else being equal, is the quality of a labor warranty at least as big a deal as these other critical factors?
On a list of “things more important than warranties,” you could add exercises like performing a load calculation, analyzing your ductwork, and testing static pressure. These are critical factors for optimizing comfort and efficiency. They also ensure the operational integrity of your system.
So would you choose a company that offers a 10-year warranty and doesn’t do those things or a company that offers a 10-year warranty and does do those things? You’d choose the latter, of course.
Basically, warranties are important, but they shouldn’t be your biggest consideration when selecting a contractor.
Types Of HVAC Warranties
There are basically two types of HVAC warranties. You get an equipment warranty provided by the manufacturer and a labor warranty provided by the contractor.
Equipment warranties cover malfunctions or failures related to a faulty part. In other words, if your system quits because Trane put in a faulty part during assembly – and that part is still under warranty – Trane will replace it for you free of charge.
Labor warranties, on the other hand, are provided by the company that installs your equipment. These warranties are important because HVAC performance depends heavily on whether the system was installed properly. A great installation results in a great performance for many years. A sorry installation usually results in a sorry performance, and it might only last a few years.
Companies that are confident in their installations typically offer a better warranty. We’ll get into what “better” means in just a bit.
HVAC Manufacturer’s Part Warranty
First things first: Nearly all manufacturers offer a 5-year warranty on their equipment no matter what. That’s true whether your system is a Trane, Lennox, Rheem, or whatever brand.
But for most brands, most of the time, that warranty extends to 10 years if you register the product. Seriously, all you have to do is fill out a registration form, and your warranty doubles in size! The registration process differs depending on the contractor.
Basically, you should be getting a 10-year warranty if your system is registered with the manufacturer. Some brands might offer slightly better warranties, but this is the standard.
HVAC Labor Warranty
Here’s where things get fun. Forgive us if we get a little smug about this topic, but we currently offer the best labor warranty in Northern Virginia. We expect it to stay that way, too.
Purchasing a 10 year labor warranty can guarantee piece of mind with your new HVAC system. Most manufacturers come with a 10 year parts warranty but that leaves you open to paying all of the labor for these repairs. These labor bills can be more than the price of the part. This labor warranty gives you the piece of mind knowing that both the parts and labor will be covered for 10 years.
HVAC companies might or might not offer a 10-year labor warranty. If they do, that’s great, but be sure you’re aware of the terms. You’ll typically have to enroll in a service agreement to get that warranty, and the quality of those service agreements vary wildly.
Basically, our philosophy is that since we installed the system, we know it’s going to work the way it should. As long as we’re in a position to keep the system in proper working order (that’s where the service agreement comes in!), we’re more than happy to warranty our labor for 10 years.
The other thing about labor warranties is competence. A competent HVAC contractor with highly trained technicians should have no problem offering a 10-year warranty on labor. But if you get 4 quotes on a new system, you’ll probably find that only 1 or 2 of them include a 10-year labor warranty.
It still isn’t the industry standard, but it should be.
Bottom line on warranties
Equipment warranties are all pretty much the same. Just make sure your system is registered so you get a 10-year warranty instead of a 5-year warranty.
Labor warranties are hit and miss, but it’s reasonable to expect a 10-year warranty on labor. An honest, competent contractor should have no problem guaranteeing their work for that long.
What’s great is that today’s HVAC systems are excellent! Assuming you maintain your system, you should get 15 years out of it. What isn’t so great is that a lot of contractors don’t have it together enough to guarantee their labor. That’s a shame, and it won’t change overnight. In the meantime, be sure to work with a company that offers a great labor warranty and has a track record of successful installations.
If you do that, you probably won’t ever have to use your warranty. And that’s how it should be.