At Advantage Home Performance we utilize flat rate pricing. “Flat rate pricing means you pay a fixed, flat rate for a repair no matter how long the technician takes to complete the repair. Flat rate pricing was developed so that homeowners would know the cost upfront, before work begins. Flat rate eliminates unpleasant surprises that come from higher than expected bills after the work has been performed.” It is our company policy that no work be performed without the approval of the homeowner.
Our technicians do not work on a commission or incentive based system. They focus on the repair at hand and make honest recommendations. By paying our technicians an hourly rate we don’t run the risk of having our technicians sell our customers repairs they don’t need. Our technicians are instructed to represent both the customer’s and company’s interest. We don’t want to run the risk of having a technician put their interest ahead of the customers and companies.
Performance pay / commission for technicians can create an incentive for the technician to sell as much as they can by putting their interests ahead of the customers. The Better Business Bureau says they are seeing a growing number of complaints from homeowners who were quoted a high price for an AC repair only to find a much cheaper fix after getting a second opinion. The BBB says often times the more expensive estimate comes from a company paying technicians a commission.
At Advantage Home Performance we recommend that you limit the amount you spend on repairs based on the age of the unit. We believe it is almost never a good idea to replace a compressor or a coil on a unit over nine years old. Replacing a compressor or coil is very expensive. It would be similar to putting a new engine or transmission in an older car. We also know other components will eventually start to fail as well, which can be very stressful if your unit goes down during extreme weather. We believe it is more financially prudent to invest in a new system.
On very old equipment, twenty plus years or older, it doesn’t make sense to keep it in service because the efficiency is so low and replacement parts can be expensive or discontinued. Gas furnaces with standing pilot light that are below eighty percent efficient are wasting energy and lack the safety controls built into modern furnaces that prevent the furnace from operating under unsafe conditions. When you eventually go to sell your home, and you have a unit older than fifteen years the home inspector is going to flag it in their report. The buyer will potentially use the age of the unit as a negotiating point to reduce the asking price.
When we install a new heating and cooling system we are often asked the question: “How long will my new system last?” The simple answer is: “it depends on how well you maintain it.” Your HVAC system is similar to an automobile. You know that you need to keep your car tuned up and get your oil changed regularly.
According to Consumer Reports, “once a year have a licensed professional change all filters, clean and flush the coils, drain the pan and drainage system, and vacuum the blower compartments. The contractor should also check that the system is properly charged with refrigerant, that there are no leaks, and that all mechanical components are working properly.”
Your comfort system also requires regular maintenance from qualified specialists. Ignoring your comfort system means it will break down more, need replacement sooner, cost you more money throughout its shortened lifespan and it might impact your health.
Be ready for the complete phase out of R-22 refrigerant. If your unit was manufactured prior to 2010 there is a good chance it uses R-22 refrigerant. The EPA banned the manufacture of new R-22 units in 2010 and plan to phase out production of R-22 refrigerant entirely by 2020. Replacement refrigerants are available but all have efficiency and capacity loss and are expensive to retrofit. R-22 is prohibitively expensive in anything more than small amounts. If you have a system that needs refrigerant on an annual basis you have a leak and you need to plan to replace your system sooner rather than later.