It is estimated that there are at least 2 to 3 million residential furnaces as well as air conditioning units that fail year after year. This figure is from the US Census Bureau. Some of these may have served homes for decades; some of these may have failed in just days or even weeks of being installed. Failure of furnaces to work could be very frustrating and most of the time; customers do not even know how to contact their manufacturers or are not familiar with the warranties of their furnaces.
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If your heating equipment has developed a problem within its first year of installation you should first contact your installing dealer. Most dealers will be able to cover both parts and labor for the first year following installation.
If you are not sure who the installing dealer is, ask the homeowner who purchased the equipment. He must have submitted a product registration card with the name of their installer; the manufacturer may have entered that information in the dealer database. If you can’t find the installing dealer or they’ve gone out of business, you should not be worried since your parts warranty remains valid as long as a licensed heating contractor fixes your furnace. You will only need to pay labor costs.
For heating or cooling equipment that was installed more than a year ago, you should still contact the installing dealer. But if you may prefer a fresh face or a second opinion you may try a new contractor. Be sure to take note of the following:
- Does the contractor charge a “warranty processing fee?” This charge is in addition to the labor costs and is designed to compensate the contractor for the cost of handling the manufacturer’s warranty paperwork. This fee may be negotiable especially if you ask about it up-front.
- If your contractor bills you a flat fee for the appointment, you should ask how parts replaced under warranty affect the fee.
Your HVAC Parts Warranty
Call the manufacturer’s customer support number with the model number, serial number, and (ideally) date of installation to find out the warranty of your furnace. Once you know whether your unit is under warranty, inform your contractor. You may pay full retail cost for a part that the contractor bought at the wholesale price. Be sure to keep receipts, invoices and documentation. Best practices for dealing with the manufacturer include:
- Stay in good communication with your installing dealer. Should a problem recur on a new unit; they should quickly involve the technical field rep.
- If you are not getting anywhere, contact the manufacturer directly. Start with the customer service number, and ask for the contact information of your local technical field rep. Call the field rep and ask them to get involved. Or you may also do this by mail. Check out ConsumerAction.gov has a good sample complaint letter. Be sure to explain your situation and provide all the details of your complaint.