Are HVAC Maintenance Service Contracts Worth the Money?

Scott Dylan Westerlund
Updated July 22, 2022
HVAC unit outside of home
Photo: galinast / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

HVAC service contracts can be worth the money because they help prevent costly issues and repairs

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The benefits of an HVAC maintenance plan can be worth the cost to homeowners, depending on a few factors. The goal is to protect your home from unexpected HVAC system repairs and replacements. 

Are you the type to always decline service warranties when you buy laptops? Did you wave off the extra warranty for your car? If so, you might assume that residential AC services are a waste of money. But that’s not necessarily the case. Take a look at what to consider before buying an HVAC maintenance plan.

What Do HVAC Service Contracts Include?

If you're getting a new HVAC system installed, be prepared to be offered a service contract. This is an agreement where you pay a fee in exchange for ongoing HVAC services from the service provider. 

Here's what's included in most heating and air conditioning maintenance plans:

  • Checkups

  • Tune-ups

  • Seasonal HVAC maintenance for winter (heat) and summer (air conditioning)

  • Parts and services

  • Emergency services

  • Priority treatment

Keep in mind that what a residential HVAC service contract includes varies by provider. Some HVAC companies offer tiered packages for different prices.

Benefits of HVAC Maintenance Plans 

A service contract makes it more likely you'll keep up with seasonal and annual checks and tune-ups. Air conditioning and heating maintenance plans can keep you frosty cool in the summer and toasty warm in the winter. 

Prevention is the best medicine for HVAC systems. Getting professional eyes on your system can help to detect a small problem before it turns expensive. Regular cleaning and filter changes can also ensure a healthier environment.

Benefits of HVAC maintenance plans include:

  • Better energy efficiency

  • Detect small issues before they grow

  • Prevent system damage

  • Improve overall HVAC lifespan

  • Better indoor air quality

  • Change dirty filters

HVAC Maintenance Plans Can Be Lifesavers in Extreme Climates

An HVAC maintenance package with a priority clause can be worth its weight in gold for some households. If you live in a place with an extreme climate, going without heat or air conditioning is dangerous.

Consider an HVAC maintenance plan if your household has young children, elderly family members, or people vulnerable to extreme temperatures due to health conditions. It may be worth paying an annual fee for the peace of mind of knowing someone can zip over if something goes wrong with your system.

You'll probably spend more money fleeing to a hotel for just one night because your home is unbearable than you would on a full year of maintenance.

Do AC Service Contracts Cost More Than Repairs? 

The biggest deterrent of an HVAC maintenance plan is cost. A quick cost analysis can help. The average cost for HVAC repair work ranges from $163 to $533. With HVAC service contracts ranging between $150 and $500 per year, many homeowners are willing to take their chances. 

If you have a new unit, you may be able to slide by on the manufacturer's warranty. Compare it to the HVAC service warranty you're being offered. Keep in mind that some manufacturers actually require a service contract as a term of the warranty. So, do your homework and read the fine print.

You also need to look at the value of the services being offered line by line. In some cases, paying out of pocket for the services included will be about equal. These factors should help you determine if paying for an HVAC maintenance contract is worth the money.

How Do You Use Your HVAC System?

Are you gentle and purposeful with your HVAC system? Your usage plays a big role in killing or preserving your HVAC unit. The best practices you follow on your own can be even more important than what a tech can do during a single visit. 

Here’s how to keep your HVAC system in great condition: 

  • Run your HVAC unit at ideal times for your location.

  • Use a unit that's appropriate for the space size.

  • Check that your home is sufficiently insulated to prevent your air conditioner from having to work too hard.

  • Change your HVAC filter every three months or as recommended by the manufacturer.

  • Remove debris around and outside of your HVAC unit.

  • Clean ducts and registers. 

Treating your unit right will help you save money on air conditioning costs.

Questions to Ask Before Buying an HVAC Service Contract

Heating and air conditioning are crucial components of a comfortable daily life. It’s only natural that you should ask questions before spending additional money on an HVAC service plan. 

Here are the questions to ask before signing on the dotted line:

  • Is your unit still under a manufacturer's warranty?

  • What's the most common repair for your specific model?

  • What's the average cost of this air conditioning repair?

  • Will the contract cost more than the service/repairs included?

Check the HVAC Company’s Reputation Before Signing

A company that isn't reputable may view HVAC contracts as quick ways to collect money. Choose a trustworthy company with plenty of positive reviews and endorsements from known home services websites. Ask plenty of questions to verify the company has the right equipment for routine maintenance and repairs.

Should You Get an HVAC Maintenance Plan?

Consider all of the above when making your decision if an HVAC maintenance plan is worth the money. The last thing to remember is that it's entirely possible you'll pay for a contract for years without ever using it or it could end up saving you hundreds or thousands in costly repairs or replacement. 

Think of your HVAC maintenance plan the same way you'd view any type of "insurance" you take out for your home. While there's no guarantee you'll use it, you'll probably breathe a sigh of relief knowing it's there if you ever need it.

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