Over Priced Service?

nerdyshopperJuly 26, 2011

We have our heat pump serviced twice a year by the company that had installed it in our home. Two services ago, the tech told me that the indoor fan motor bearings were wearing out and it needed replacement. I said I would check into it. I have a friend that does my electrical work. He checked out the motor bearings and they were not worn out. The last service, a different tech brought me in a starting capacitor that was a bit below specs on capacitance. He said he could put in a new one and the part would be over $100 plus labor. I said I would check. I have access to the Grainger on line parts catalogue and I can buy one there for about $8.50 and if my friend goes down to our local Grainger it will be less than $8. It this normal? I am paying for this routine checkup so I don't understand the need for such high markups.

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Depending on age of your systems and problem history, twice a year PM service is overkill.

You can expect a wide variance in parts pricing. Keep in mind a company has to inventory a wide variety of parts including those that are generic and common to a large range of difference brands and models. Many
homeowners simply don't care and/or have the ability to source replacement parts. Where I find fault though is a tech telling you something needed replacing when it apparently did not.

That alone would be enough to make me drop that dealer and find


    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 11:54AM
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Some HVAC guys want to make lots of money fast. You have to call around to find reasonable rates sometimes.

There are HVAC guys around that want to work for fair prices. These are typically independent installers or small company's. If its busy and you don't have one your at their mercy.

In my opinion it pays to have a high quality new system installed for a good price during their slow season. Then enjoy the trouble free high efficiency system for years to come. I don't spend the money on yearly inspections or cleanings. This is expensive and some shady repairmen will find things wrong or intentionally break things.

Then when the system gets old rather then spend money on maintenance get a whole new system for a good price again (during the slow season).

I don't call service for yearly or twice-yearly maintenance. If its not broke, don't fix it. I did recently spend $110 total for a hard start kit. My heatpump is only 2 years old and works fine but the hard-start kit has stopped the occaisional dimming of some lights on startup and made my startups so smooth.

Call around and ask what they would charge for the part and the labor. You could always ask if they would install it for (X amount) of dollars. The worse they can say is no.

Some people won't agree with my methods. I"m not an HVAC professional. I"m a homeowner. I"m interested in having a HVAC system with great comfort, high energy efficiency, without being taken to the cleaners by people who want to make a fortune.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 12:00PM
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The company you are using seems to want to create extra income for themselves. They do not sound very trustworthy.

I find it disturbing the tech would take the time to remove a capacitor to show you it is marginal in the hope you will pay hundreds of dollars to replace it. It sounds like the tech gets a commission on additional sales.

I also think a twice yearly PM visit is overkill. Learn how to change the filters yourself and reduce it to once a year.

You should also consider looking for a new company to do your preventative maintenance.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 3:35PM
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Thanks for the advice friends. I had just come to the same conclusions. Need to find a different source and better service. Not sure about springing the big bucks yet for a new HP though. When that happens I will be trying to find that gold star dealer on one of the models currently recommended in this forum.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 4:52AM
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HVAC systems are one of those items that most homeowners don't know a lot about, and some service techs count on that. They'll try anything to boost sales counting on the fact that you may not know any better.
We know a guy that for the past 20 years has replaced his a/c condenser every 5 or 6 years. He uses the same HVAC company and they service the unit twice annually. They always find something wrong each time they come out. After about 5 years on a unit, they tell him his condensor is "worn out" and he needs a new one. He owns quite a large house. I imagine he has lost a lot of money with these people but he sticks with them because the techs are "nice" and explain what the problem is!
He probably could have put his kids through college with what he paid out to the HVAC service company over the years!
One time he did ask me "How come I am having so many problems with my unit and my neighbor who never has anyone out to check it gets 15 years on his unit?". Duh!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2011 at 1:55PM
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