HVAC Maintenance Plan vs. Home Warranty: Which Option is Right for You?

Scott Dylan Westerlund
Updated December 15, 2021
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  • HVAC maintenance plans typically cost between $150 and $500 per year.

  • Homeowners typically spend between $300 and $700 annually for home warranties.

  • HVAC plans are one-on-one agreements signed with local HVAC contractors.

  • Home warranties are whole-house policies offered by large companies.

  • While HVAC plans focus on maintaining your unit for optimal performance and safety, home warranties focus on repairs and parts replacements.

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A nightmare scenario for a homeowner is the HVAC system breaking down, especially during the hot summer or cold winter months, without maintenance coverage. Many people protect their system under an HVAC maintenance plan or through a home warranty that covers other home systems and appliances. Learn the differences between an HVAC maintenance plan and a home warranty to make the right call for your home.

The Pros & Cons of HVAC Maintenance Plans

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Maintenance plans from local HVAC companies offer preventative maintenance during annual or semi-annual inspections and discounts on parts and labor. The main advantage of a maintenance plan versus a home warranty is that you get to pick the company that will service your unit. 


Free Routine HVAC Cleanings and Inspections

A major cause of HVAC issues is homeowners skipping the all-important annual or bi-annual system inspection. It's easy for homeowners to forget to book HVAC cleanings and inspections, but they have several benefits, including helping to preserve the lifespan of a unit, catching potentially dangerous errors, and reducing energy costs by keeping the unit efficient.

Luckily, getting an HVAC maintenance package means you always have your next cleaning and inspection booked. Most plans provide cleaning and inspections about every six to 12 months with no charges. A typical heating and cooling maintenance agreement includes:

  • General operation assessment

  • Thermostat assessment

  • Electrical check

  • Lubrication

  • Condensate drain check

  • Outdoor unit inspection

  • Fan assessment

  • Air filter replacement

  • Coil cleaning

  • Refrigerant check

  • Blower maintenance

Lower Utility Bills

HVAC units that are maintained properly, such as through a maintenance plan, can retain up to 95 percent of their original efficiency. Unfortunately, letting your unit go long periods without being cleaned or inspected can cause debris buildup, clogs, and performance issues that make your unit work harder. The harder the strain on your HVAC unit, the higher your monthly utility bill.

Discounts on Repairs, Parts, and Labor

Most HVAC maintenance plans provide discounts on parts and labor in the event that your unit breaks and needs fixing. These discounts can lead to major cost savings over time, especially compared to a homeowner without a maintenance plan who has to pay full price for the same job.

Personal Relationship With a Local Company

You’ll deal directly with the local HVAC company when you purchase a maintenance plan. That local company is now your home and go-to team for cleanings, inspections, and repairs, so you can trust them to provide the best service and suggestions possible. 

Priority Status

Most HVAC companies give priority status to customers locked into maintenance plans. That means you'll jump to the front of the line if you place an emergency service call. Many companies even offer same-day service delivered in a matter of hours any time of the year. You can also make your company selection based on proximity to cut down on your wait time.


Most annual HVAC maintenance agreements cost between $150 and $500. It's easy to see how a plan can pay for itself when you consider that HVAC technicians charge between $50 and $150 per hour for repairs. During a one-time visit, getting your unit cleaned, inspected, or serviced can run you between $75 and $200.


May Never Need Service

The catch-22 is that you may pay for an HVAC maintenance plan that you'll never use. Of course, the annual inspections and cleanings can pay for themselves. However, there's a chance that perks like repair discounts and priority status won't matter if you don't need to place a service call that year.

Only Your HVAC Unit Is Covered

While an HVAC maintenance plan is often comprehensive regarding what's covered in your HVAC unit, coverage stops where your unit ends. Ductwork typically isn't included in an HVAC plan.

The Pros & Cons of a Home Warranty

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A home warranty offers a protection plan for your major home appliances and systems, such as refrigerators, ovens, plumbing, and, of course, HVAC units. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of using a home warranty to cover your HVAC unit.


Variety of Coverage

Most home warranty companies cover dozens of household appliances as well as plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems. Your home warranty company is your go-to team for all of your appliance and system repairs.

Fills in Gaps in Manufacturer Warranties 

While manufacturer warranties may cover the replacement of HVAC unit parts, they don't cover the labor costs. A home warranty can often bridge the gap left by a manufacturer's warranty by covering the labor aspect of a repair.

Helps With the Cost of Major Repairs

Home warranties can be beneficial for insulating you against a large repair bill if your HVAC unit breaks down. While you'll be responsible for the deductible amount on your plan, you may end up paying nothing for the actual repair, thanks to your home warranty coverage.

Ductwork Coverage

Many home warranty policies include ductwork, which ensures that airflow from the HVAC unit is quickly restored in the event of ductwork damage. Repairing and replacing ductwork can be painfully expensive, so having this covered by your home warranty is a big plus. 


Can’t Pick Your HVAC Repair Company

Most home warranty companies don't let you select the HVAC company servicing your unit. You won't have the option to look at online company reviews, comparison shop for rates, or choose the closest company to your home. This aspect of home warranties reduces your choices and means that you won’t hire your own HVAC specialist that charges competitive rates. 

Policy Coverage Caps

Most home warranty companies cap what they'll pay for covered items. Most home warranty plans come with a coverage limit of between $1,500 and $3,000. You'll also need to pay a deductible just for placing a service call.

Limited Coverage

Home warranty plans can include rows and rows of "fine print." While many major repairs and replacement parts are covered, there's no guarantee that your issue is on the list. Home warranty plans typically don’t cover damage caused by weather events, poor maintenance, and electrical overloads. You could end up "paying twice" if you need to cover the cost of a repair after paying your deductible for a service call.

Total HVAC Unit Replacements Are Rare

While a home warranty covers some parts, very few home warranties offer broken HVAC units full replacements. The plans that offer replacement coverage may limit your options to base models within certain price points.

Lack of Maintenance Could Void Your Warranty

Unfortunately, having a home warranty doesn't always mean you can skip the HVAC maintenance plan. The home warranty company may void your coverage if you're not doing routine maintenance and repairs on your HVAC unit to keep it in working condition. Most home warranty companies will ask for maintenance history and repair proof before approving a service call.

Process for Filing a Claim

While calling your local HVAC tech for help seems personal, filing a claim through a home warranty company can seem impersonal. Most home warranty companies have lengthy, automated processes for filing your claim before utilizing your coverage.

HVAC Maintenance Plan vs. Home Warranty

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The difference between HVAC maintenance plans and home warranties comes down to price, time frame, personalization, and convenience. 


Home warranty plans typically cost between $25 and $75 per month, meaning that most homeowners pay between $300 and $700 annually for coverage. In addition, deductibles in the form of "service fees" range from $75 to $175 for each service call.

On the other hand, an HVAC maintenance plan costs between $150 and $500 for the year, including one to two visits. 

Winner: HVAC Maintenance Plan

Length of Life

While a home warranty can help if part of your HVAC unit breaks down, the HVAC maintenance plan is more effective for prolonging the life and efficiency of your unit. Plus, keeping a unit running in optimal condition ensures that your HVAC system is never working harder than it should, helping it last as long as possible.

Winner: HVAC Maintenance Plan


HVAC maintenance plans allow you to pick the local company you’re trusting to repair and maintain your unit. But home warranty companies typically choose an HVAC contractor for you, meaning you won’t be able to personalize your service.

Winner: HVAC Maintenance Plan


HVAC contracts offer homeowners the convenience of priority status when you place an emergency call. However, you'll still need to coordinate the visit with your local HVAC company. 

By contrast, home warranty companies make all of the arrangements for you once you request a service visit. Many busy homeowners appreciate the convenience of the hands-off approach of using a home warranty company.

Winner: Home Warranty

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