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HVAC Twice-Yearly Inspections: Any value?
Old 03-28-2018, 04:40 AM   #1
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HVAC Twice-Yearly Inspections: Any value?

When we replaced our 2 HVAC units (heat pumps) in 2014, we also signed up for twice-yearly inspections by a technician. This costs around $300 a year.

This year, in between inspections, one of the outdoor units froze up and needed service. Turned out to be a faulty thermostat. Warranty covers parts but not labor. Cost for just over an hour of service: $285.00.

Shouldn't a twice-yearly inspection catch faulty parts? If not, what is the point, other than to make more money for the HVAC company?

P.S. We are not DIYers.
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Old 03-28-2018, 04:51 AM   #2
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I think your expectations are too high. Parts can fail between inspections... especially parts that are binary and either work or don't which is common with many electronic parts these days.

I only do annual inspections for my HVAC.
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Old 03-28-2018, 04:56 AM   #3
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So, it seems you feel inspections do have some value. If you could not do them yourself, would you see value in paying a technician to do them?

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I think your expectations are too high. Parts can fail between inspections... especially parts that are binary and either work or don't which is common with many electronic parts these days.

I only do annual inspections for my HVAC.
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Old 03-28-2018, 04:57 AM   #4
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What other choice would one have if you could not do them yourself?
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Old 03-28-2018, 05:22 AM   #5
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Well, true. But what would be the Big Bad Result if one never had the units inspected at all?

They are about to go out of warranty, so keeping the warranty active is not a reason for the inspections.

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What other choice would one have if you could not do them yourself?
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Old 03-28-2018, 05:56 AM   #6
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There is a good value in having yearly maintenance inspections. Think about it, all of the air in your house moves through the system. Lots of dust that sits everywhere.
The outside unit is even worse where the compressor coils suck up dust, dirt, pollen, etc. and cause partial blockages to the coils. This causes the unit to work harder and use more electricity. There are other things the yearly check should do but the major items are cleaning the coils.
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Old 03-28-2018, 06:07 AM   #7
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The most important item for longevity and good operation is the quality of the install.


For the first 10 years, all these "inspections" will mostly be unnecessary.


This is a cash cow operation. All businesses today are seeking recurring revenue. This is one way they do it.


After 10 years, I would think an occasional (every other year) look is generally good enough. And as a homeowner, you got to keep yourself in tune with the HVAC. At the first sign of anything different, call your service people. Especially any smell. And ALWAYS have a CO detector running.
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Old 03-28-2018, 06:17 AM   #8
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IMHO - I could see value in an inspection to make sure the evaporator drain tube is working properly.

If excess condensate water is allowed to accumulate below the evaporator, and the evaporator is in contact with it, it could cause the evaporator to develop a leak - a BIG expense.

Otherwise it would seem to be mostly energy efficiency issues (ie clean coils to improve outside air flow etc).

This assumes that the hvac (Aka furnace) filter is changed on a regular basis.

-gauss

P.S. I do believe that there is some truth that the twice a year inspection for $300 is a significant revenue stream to the HVAC company. If you are not DIYers , on the other hand, then it may be a good match - economically speaking.

P.P.S This is all said from the perspective of someone who lives in the relatively comfortable Midwest (ie not south Florida, Texas etc.)
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Old 03-28-2018, 06:32 AM   #9
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We bought our current home when it was 10 YO. We never had our system serviced in the next 10 years. At about the 15 year mark, the fan timer board failed - damage (burn marks) suggested a voltage spike - nothing an inspection would have prevented.

Replaced entire unit (AC/furnace) last year (21 year mark) before retiring. Will probably have checks performed every other year. YMMV.
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Old 03-28-2018, 06:43 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post

Shouldn't a twice-yearly inspection catch faulty parts? If not, what is the point, other than to make more money for the HVAC company?
No, inspections will rarely catch faulty parts, they are primarily revenue generators for service companies. I don't see the value in paying for periodic HVAC inspections.
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Old 03-28-2018, 06:51 AM   #11
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No, inspections will rarely catch faulty parts, they are primarily revenue generators for service companies. I don't see the value in paying for periodic HVAC inspections.
+1, worse yet, they find things that ‘need’ to be replaced and recommend replacement prematurely, my neighbor with a contract confirms this.

Consider:
https://www.angieslist.com/articles/...aste-money.htm
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Old 03-28-2018, 07:14 AM   #12
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No, inspections will rarely catch faulty parts, they are primarily revenue generators for service companies. I don't see the value in paying for periodic HVAC inspections.
I've been in my current house for 3+ years and last summer was the first time I had someone out to check the unit. Wasn't having a problem but the house is 12 years old so thought it might be a good idea for a check. They did a quick inspection of the furnace, checked the freon level and washed out the o/s unit. Everything was fine and they charged $90. There are places in town that will do it for $60 but I have done business with these guys over the years and trust them. They didn't try selling me on having periodic checks either.
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Old 03-28-2018, 07:17 AM   #13
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Twice definitely seems like overkill. I try to do it every year, but some years I forget to call, and this year they were backed up and never got to me. If you're very lucky a part might be starting to fail and can be detected but I don't think that's too likely. Hopefully they can spot a cracked heat exchanger but the CO monitor already suggested can alert you to that. Changing filters is important, but you can do that yourself.
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Old 03-28-2018, 07:46 AM   #14
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The real value IMO is that if you have a service contract, when something does go wrong, they move you to the top of their priority list for repairs - in front of all the service calls they get from people without a contract. When the AC goes out in mid July it’s nice to have them show up rather quickly.
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Old 03-28-2018, 07:57 AM   #15
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We lived for 10 years in Florida and over twenty in Mississippi. I have never paid for an inspection. The Florida unit never failed. I’ve had to have 1 blower fan replaced in the internal unit in all that time. Annual inspections are a waste of money imho
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Old 03-28-2018, 08:01 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
When we replaced our 2 HVAC units (heat pumps) in 2014, we also signed up for twice-yearly inspections by a technician. This costs around $300 a year.

This year, in between inspections, one of the outdoor units froze up and needed service. Turned out to be a faulty thermostat. Warranty covers parts but not labor. Cost for just over an hour of service: $285.00.

Shouldn't a twice-yearly inspection catch faulty parts? If not, what is the point, other than to make more money for the HVAC company?

P.S. We are not DIYers.
I think twice a year might be excessive. The normal excuse for twice a year is once for the A/C, and once for the furnace.

That being said, the most important thing they should do is clean the outside coil. And I mean really clean by opening the unit and blasting it with water from the inside out. The newer units have a lot more fins, with tighter spacing, in order to boost efficiency. These are easily clogged with pollen, grass clippings, dust (and around here, cottonwood "fluff").

If you are not DIYers, then this is money well spent.
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Old 03-28-2018, 08:09 AM   #17
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The first year after we moved into our new construction townhome 7 years ago we contacted the installer and asked him about an annual maintenance check. He said it's a waste of money and replacing the air filters every two months is all I need. So far so good.

In 12 years of living in our previous home we never had an annual inspection done despite the company's repeated mailings and phone calls. We only had one of the thermostat go and an annual inspection would not have prevented it.
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Old 03-28-2018, 08:47 AM   #18
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I had mine inspected once and the inspector was in/out so quick it was like WTF. It's been almost 20 years since, I keep an eye on it and make sure it's working properly and not making any unusual sounds, and change the filters regularly.
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Old 03-28-2018, 08:57 AM   #19
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Agree with what's been said. Unless inspection includes some maintenance, it's not worth it. Cleaning the coils, especially outside as CardsFan mentions is the main thing that needs done. Follow the guy around the next time he's there to inspect and watch what he actually does. The first and last time I had an inspection, the guy turned on the unit, watched it run for a bit and that was it. I'm not paying for that. HAVC is not like a car where things go bad over time, where presumably you would notice by hearing or seeing something wrong. In my experience, they just stop working one day (usually the hottest or coldest day of the year). If I was going to pay for anything it would be a service contract that would have me in front of the line for a quick response when it does go bad.
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Old 03-28-2018, 09:11 AM   #20
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I'd say it depends on where the units are. In our Florida place, the AC compressors sit about 150 feet from the ocean. They get cleaned and serviced twice a year, despite being relatively new. In our northern place, we have the boiler cleaned and serviced once a year, but not the AC units.
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