HVAC System Service: Shared Responsibility = Shared Benefits

By: Gary B. Xavier | Mar 03, 2022

The typical homeowner thinks about their HVAC system twice – first, when it doesn’t work, and second, when they receive an astronomical energy bill!  

When the heat doesn’t come on during that cold winter night, or the air conditioning fails to keep the house somewhere below the sweltering point on a sunny July day, or that thing in the basement sounds like it’s about to become airborne, or the utility company sends a bill that rivals the national debt, then, and only then, does the typical homeowner think about their HVAC system. That is the challenge that HVAC professionals face daily when they attempt to satisfy a residential customer. 

Our commercial customers seem more likely to understand the need for routine preventive maintenance. Many, in fact, rely on a computerized program of system maintenance items, so that each day, each week, or each month, a list is generated reminding them of the things that need to be checked and serviced. Homeowners don’t have this list. That is, of course, unless they look at the manual that came with their equipment! Equipment manufacturers are never hesitant to point out the routine maintenance items that need to be addressed, as they want the equipment to perform properly over its anticipated life span. So, they list, for the consumer, things that need to be done regularly. 

As all technicians know, equipment needs to be checked and serviced regularly to maintain the optimum level of performance. It is the responsibility of the technician to share that insight and awareness with the homeowner. Putting the idea of routine maintenance in the customer’s head should begin at the time of installation of new equipment, or at the time of a service call on existing systems. 

While getting a homeowner to think about their HVAC system when it’s still working may prove to be difficult, it will reap benefits for both the homeowner and the service company. Think of it as a partnership between the system owner and the technician, with each doing their part to keep the system in top working condition. For the homeowner, a system that works consistently without problems is efficient both in comfort and cost; and for the service technician and their firm, a satisfied customer is their best advertisement for additional work. 

It’s often said that an educated consumer makes the best customer, and it makes sense! Following these five steps to set up a routine service program with your customer will be beneficial to both the equipment owner and the service company: 

  1. Familiarize the customer with the equipment. Most homeowners really want to know how things work; they just may be reluctant to ask questions. Start by showing them what the manufacturer says needs to be checked or serviced, some of which is the homeowner’s responsibility.
  2. Working from the manufacturer’s information and the technician’s experience, list for the customer the items that are their responsibility. Some examples may include filter changes on a prescribed schedule, a weekly or monthly visual inspection to look and listen for things that are out of proper working condition (such as debris blocking a condenser coil), and monitoring of utility bills for elevated costs of system operation. Encourage them to call you if anything seems to be out of the normal operating parameters before the system stops working!
  3. List and explain to the customer the technician’s responsibilities. Describe your responsibilities, such as an annual or semi-annual checkup, which might include items such as coil cleaning and burner cleaning and tuning.
  4. Follow up with the homeowner on a regular basis. Touch base letting them know you are thinking of their equipment both during the season and as the seasons change. A quick phone call, text, or email will remind them of your involvement, and of their own responsibilities.
  5. Reap the benefits! Systems that operate properly most of the time do so because of several things, including a well-built and properly installed system, routine maintenance based on the manufacturer’s recommendations and the operating conditions, and a good working relationship between the equipment owner and the service technician.

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