Are HVAC Maintenance Service Contracts Worth the Money?

Heather Ayer
Written by Heather Ayer
Updated April 27, 2023
HVAC unit outside of home
Photo: galinast / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images


  • HVAC maintenance plans help protect you from costly HVAC repairs.

  • Benefits of this plan include checkups, seasonal maintenance, and priority service.

  • Disadvantages of this plan include upfront costs and competing warranties.  

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Are you the type to always decline service warranties when you buy electronics, or did you waive the extra warranty for your car? If so, you might assume that residential air conditioner services are a waste of money, but that’s not always the case. The benefits of an HVAC service contract can be worth the cost, depending on a few factors. Take a look at what to consider before buying an HVAC maintenance plan to help cover unexpected repair costs. 

What Do HVAC Service Contracts Include?

If you're installing a new HVAC system, 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 most heating and air conditioning maintenance plans include: 

  • Checkups

  • Tune-ups

  • Seasonal HVAC maintenance for fall (heat) and spring (air conditioning)

  • Parts and labor 

  • 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. Speak with your local HVAC repair pro to learn what a specific HVAC service contract will include. 

Benefits of HVAC Maintenance Plans

Technician checking AC unit
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A service contract makes keeping up with seasonal and annual checkups and tune-ups easy. 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 detect a small problem before it becomes expensive. Regular cleaning and filter changes can also ensure a healthier home environment.

Benefits of HVAC maintenance include:

  • Better energy efficiency

  • Priority service 

  • Detection of minor issues before they grow

  • Prevention of system damage

  • Improvement of overall HVAC life span

  • Better indoor air quality

  • Switching out dirty filters

  • More consistent maintenance work

While you can preserve your HVAC unit without a maintenance plan, this contract can provide more consistent work. And let’s face it—no one wants to wait extended times for a repair technician to come out if your AC or furnace breaks. This contract can help you get work done quickly, meaning you won’t be without heat or air conditioning for too long. 

Disadvantages of HVAC Maintenance Plans

While there are many advantages of an HVAC maintenance plan, purchasing one can have its drawbacks. One of the most significant disadvantages is the initial cost. An HVAC maintenance contract can be costly, especially if you just invested in the cost of a new HVAC replacement

In addition, your HVAC system might already have a manufacturer's warranty attached to cover the cost of repairs or parts. Similarly, you might already have an existing home warranty plan to cover various household repairs. Taking out a new HVAC maintenance plan might be unnecessary coverage while your warranty is still active. Before deciding, check the details of your HVAC or home warranty. 

If you are diligent about the upkeep of your HVAC unit, like changing the air filter regularly and having it serviced at least once a year, your unit should last a while without major repairs. You might not need the full benefit of having an HVAC service contract early on.

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 come over quickly if something goes wrong with your system.

Do AC Service Contracts Cost More Than Repairs? 

Technician with his tools outside
Photo: LifestyleVisuals / E+ / Getty Images

The biggest deterrent to an HVAC maintenance plan is cost. A quick cost analysis can help. The cost for HVAC repair work ranges from $100 to $2,000. 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 offered. Remember that some manufacturers 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. Sometimes, 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.

Common HVAC RepairsAverage Cost
Heat Exchanger$100 – $1,500
Evaporator and Condenser Coils$400 – $1,500
Compressor$750 – $2,000
Circuit Board$100 – $600

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. 

How Do You Use Your HVAC System?

Are you gentle and purposeful with your HVAC system? Your usage plays a significant role in how your HVAC system runs. The AC maintenance best practices you follow on your own can be just as important as 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 the correct AC unit size for your space. 

  • Check that your home is sufficiently insulated to prevent your air conditioner from working 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 and ultimately extend your unit's life. 

How Often Does Your HVAC System Need Maintenance?

Ideally, you should schedule HVAC maintenance at least once a year. Your HVAC pro will check your AC and furnace for damage, clear out any debris from the outdoor unit, and check that the thermostat is working properly, among other things. An HVAC maintenance plan will cover this seasonal maintenance, a big perk of having the plan in place. 

Outside of routine maintenance, other parts of your HVAC system might need replacing as they age. A good point to consider is what the most common repair for your model of HVAC system is, when it usually needs to be replaced, and how much it’ll cost. Considering this important point will help determine if the service contract is worth it.

How Is the HVAC Company’s Reputation?

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 deciding if HVAC maintenance plans are worth it for you and your home. 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 replacements. 

Think of your HVAC maintenance plan like 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.

Scott Dylan Westerlund contributed to this piece.

Frequently Asked Questions

The top reasons to purchase an HVAC maintenance contract include the fact that it ensures you are detecting problems before they turn into expensive fixes. This type of contract also provides priority service, which is nice if it’s peak busy season. Finally, an HVAC maintenance contract provides discounts on parts and labor for repairs, which can save you a good amount of money if your unit breaks.  

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