General Knowledgebase

Different Ways You Could Void Your HVAC Warranty

The big day has arrived.  After years of dealing with a worn out air conditioning unit, constant breakdowns, and a house that never felt cool – your new air conditioning unit is finally installed and ready to go.  The cold, crisp air feels great and the house is finally comfortable despite the scorching outdoor temperatures.  In addition to a cooler home, lower electric bills, and a quieter system, your new equipment comes with a nice bonus – a multi-year warranty protecting you against premature failure and expensive repairs.  But most homeowners don’t realize that warranty can be easily voided, sometimes even by accident.

Here are real warranty guidelines from some of the most popular heating and air conditioning manufacturers.  These are not “gotchas” and there is no fine print.  Warranty information is easily found on any equipment website.  The guidelines are there to protect the integrity of the equipment and to keep the customer confident in the quality of the product.  Reading this though, you might be surprised how close you’ve come to accidentally voiding that important warranty.

“To obtain the longer warranty periods as shown… the product must be properly registered [with the manufacturer] within ninety (90) days of original installation.”

Most residential HVAC equipment automatically comes with a “limited warranty”.  A limited warranty is typically 5 years for compressors, 20 years for heat exchangers, and 1 year for other parts.  You don’t need to do anything to get it; it comes along with owning new equipment.  However, several manufacturers offer extended warranties like lifetime compressor replacements, but only if you register the new equipment online directly with the manufacturer.  For a new house, the builder will likely register for you, but for a replacement, maybe the installer will do it or maybe it’s your responsibility.  Either way, you must ask the contractor “who will register the equipment to get the extended warranty.”  If you don’t ask, you risk no one registering the equipment and consequently not getting the extra warranty you paid for.  It is also important to note the registration time line may be different for different manufacturers.  Some require registration of your new equipment within 60 days of installation, others 90 days.  Talk to your contractor to find out who will register the new unit and when that registration must be complete.

“Parts not supplied or designated by Company, or damages resulting from their use.”

Yes, you can get a great deal on reconditioned or after-market parts, but installing non-OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts will void the equipment warranty and you’ll be paying out of pocket for all the repairs.  Don’t let the low price from online retailers or unlicensed handymen tempt you.  You can be certain that if you make a warranty claim because of bad parts, the manufacturer will want to inspect the parts.  If they are not OEM, you will be out of luck.

“Failure to provide maintenance per [manufacturer] instructions will void this warranty. The owner may be asked to provide written documentation of annual and other periodic preventive maintenance.”

Your new air conditioning unit needs routine maintenance to keep it operating at peak efficiency.  For HVAC equipment that means at a minimum regular filter changes and seasonal tuneups.  If the compressor fails in the second year of operation, the manufacturer may want to see documentation that the unit was properly maintained during those two years.  Without some kind of written proof that maintenance was performed, like a signed service contract or even receipts for new filters, your warranty claim could very well be denied. One major equipment company goes so far as to require the maintenance be performed by a licensed HVAC contractor meaning the homeowner cannot perform the maintenance even if it is as simple as replacing the filters.  Homeowners must be proactive and get something in writing defining what is “maintenance per manufacturer instructions.”  Maybe just changing filters is enough, or maybe it’s not.  The day the equipment breaks is not the time to find out the details of the maintenance requirements.

Equipment “must be part of an Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute rated and matched system or a specification in a Company provided bulletin or otherwise approved in writing by a Company authorized representative.”

Say you have a “split unit” with an outdoor condensing unit and an indoor air handler.  The air handler works great, but the condensing unit is rusted and worn out.  Just replacing the condensing unit and not the air handler can be problematic because, thanks to ever-improving air conditioning technology, newer condensing units aren’t likely to be compatible with older, less efficient air handlers.  In most cases, you need to replace both the air handler and the condensing unit.  That’s what the warranty calls a “matched system” and if you chose not to replace both pieces, you’ll need to get something in writing to confirm that the mismatch doesn’t void the warranty.

“The warranty is to the original owner only and is not available for subsequent owners.”

In other words, the air conditioning warranty will not transfer to the next homeowner when the house is sold, even if the equipment was just installed.  This usually does not apply to newly constructed homes where the previous owner was the builder.  This is primarily for limited warranties in existing homes where the seller recently replaced the unit.  Although you, the home buyer, are not doing anything negligent or careless to void the warranty, most manufacturers simply do not allow transfers of limited warranties between homeowners.  The responsibility is on you to find out because some extended and lifetime warranties, not limited warranties, will transfer under certain circumstances.

Warranties, whether limited or extended, are provided by equipment manufacturers to give buyers confidence that their equipment is reliable and that they stand behind their product if it fails.  But homeowners can easily void warranties by installing cheap parts or forgetting to do proper maintenance.  If you are buying a new home or replacing the equipment in your current home, take time to sit with the HVAC contractor to learn about your warranty options and how to keep your investment protected as long as possible.