Transitioning to Annual Maintenance: Enhancing Efficiency, Satisfaction, and Warranty Protection for Contractors and Homeowners

Written by Jim Bergmann

May 24, 2023

Imagine a groundbreaking evolution in HVAC maintenance: shifting from two visits a year to just one. This change not only cuts costs for your company, but also improves efficiency and boosts customer satisfaction.

It’s time to revolutionize our industry, not just with routine changes, but with transformative strides.

The 2-To-1 Contractor Edge

The HVAC industry is ripe for a transformative shift from maintaining HVAC systems twice a year to a single annual maintenance visit. This transition offers enhanced efficiency, cost savings, and unprecedented benefits for both contractors and homeowners. By aligning maintenance schedules with the actual need for service, we can optimize system performance, increase customer satisfaction, and ensure comprehensive warranty protection for homeowners.

The Traditional Paradigm: Conventional Biannual Maintenance

For years, the norm has been to schedule routine visits twice a year, regardless of the system’s condition. However, this approach often led to inefficiencies, increased costs, unnecessary equipment tinkering, and irritating disruptions in homeowner routines. Biannual maintenance served as a sales tactic rather than a valuable service. In fact, I often advise my own family against signing up for maintenance plans, as they often do more harm than good. As Kuzco from The Emperor’s New Groove would say, “No touchy!”

As I’ve mentioned before: the industry is broken, and we need to fix it.

Servicing Equipment Off Season

Once the system is commissioned (set up properly at initial start up) we are in a maintenance mode going forward. Refrigerant charge, heating and cooling airflow, manifold gas pressures do not need any annual adjustment. Gauges should only be put on a system ideally twice in its lifetime, once it is initially set up and when it is finally disposed of (More on that later).  With a furnace, combustion and venting should be checked, but there is no fine tuning required on residential equipment. In a perfect world, everything we do as HVAC professionals is one and done. 

And thus, the question always arises: how do I check a system off season and what am I looking for? Let’s keep it simple: safety, dirt, wear and tear.

The performance can be constantly monitored with leave-behind technology (such as, so now what your primary job is what it has always been: a detailed visual inspection with appropriate safety testing.

  • Is there any visual evidence of refrigerant leaks like oil residue? 
  • What is the condition of the disconnect, contractor and capacitor?
  • Does the condenser coil need to be cleaned? Is there excessive pressure drop across the evaporator?
  • Is the blower clean, is there evidence of dirt bypassing the filter?
  • Are all the caps tight, screws in the panels? 
  • Clean out the condensate line.

And realize this: when servicing an A/C unit, you are already servicing 50% of the furnace system. You should be inspecting the filter, condensate line, blower, blower motor, circuit board and other airside components. It is not a monumental leap to inspect the burners, venting and do a quick combustion test while you are already on site! Using a smoke pencil the integrity of the heat exchanger can be easily screened cell by cell looking for the smoke to be pushed out at the burner inlet.

Break the mindset that furnaces need to be checked in the fall and air conditioners in the spring. It is simply not true. We can get everything done easily and completely in one trip. If we need to return to perform something like a coil cleaning because it is below freezing we can send lower cost labor like a helper to complete the task. Cold weather does not however prohibit an inspection of the outdoor equipment, electrical components, and service disconnect. These can be inspected any time of year. 

The How

In the past five years, new solutions have emerged, such as leave-behind hardware that monitors system performance and alerts technicians when issues arise. However, it is essential to ensure proper commissioning of the system before installing such hardware to avoid unnecessary callbacks. Implementing these solutions enables us to monitor operation over time, keeping systems sealed and integrity intact.

The Why

Transitioning to annual maintenance allows contractors to consolidate service schedules, reducing the number of site visits required throughout the year. This convenience is especially valuable for families where both parents work, as interruptions to their well-crafted schedules can be major annoyances. By offering maximum quality service with minimum effort on the homeowner’s part, contractors can significantly improve customer satisfaction.

Cost Savings

Fewer maintenance visits translate to substantial cost savings for contractors. Overhead costs, such as fuel expenses, truck maintenance, and labor hours, can be significantly reduced. Optimizing service routes and maximizing resource usage allows contractors to achieve cost savings without compromising the quality of their work.

Improved Employee Value

Technicians rarely feel fulfilled after a day of routine tasks like cleaning condensers or changing filters. By cutting down on maintenance calls, contractors can create value for their employees by assigning them more challenging and rewarding tasks. This shift leads to a sense of pride and accomplishment, fostering a positive work environment.

Preserving System Integrity

One of the top reasons to avoid maintenance plans is the risk of refrigerant leaks caused by technicians attaching pressure probes without core depressors, gradually degrading a perfectly good system. By focusing on keeping systems sealed and monitoring operation over time, contractors can maintain the integrity of the equipment and their reputation as trustworthy business owners.

Comprehensive Warranty Protection

Annual maintenance plays a crucial role in upholding warranty protection for homeowners. Many HVAC manufacturers require regular maintenance to validate warranties. By adhering to annual maintenance, homeowners ensure that their warranty remains intact, protecting them from unexpected repair costs and providing peace of mind.

Final Thoughts…

Transitioning from biannual to annual maintenance presents a remarkable opportunity for contractors and homeowners alike. Streamlining maintenance schedules unlocks benefits such as enhanced operational efficiency, reduced costs, improved customer satisfaction, optimized workflow planning, and comprehensive warranty protection. Let us embrace this evolution in HVAC maintenance practices and champion the advantages of annual maintenance.

By working together, we can achieve higher levels of efficiency, customer satisfaction, warranty protection, and system performance, while solidifying our industry’s commitment to excellence and innovation.

Need help in structuring your Smart Maintenance program? Until the fall Shoulder season, we are offering free consultations for HVAC companies who need help structuring their offering to homeowner. Book your slot here before they’re gone!

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