The HVAC system is one of the most important components of many homes. It’s essential for those brutally cold winter nights and those mercilessly hot summer days.
If your HVAC isn’t blowing air at the right temperature or starts making a noise you’ve never heard before, it could need a repair or a replacement, which can be expensive. A home warranty can cover the cost — as long as you find a plan that has the protection you need.
What does a home warranty cover for HVAC?
Comprehensive home warranty plans typically cover most components of HVAC systems, including the air conditioning (whether you have a centrally ducted system, a geothermal system, a water-source system, evaporative coolers or a built-in wall unit).
Home warranties also cover components of the heating and ventilation system, including centrally ducted gas, electric, oil or gravity heating systems; a steam, hydronic or hot water system; geothermal or water-source systems; and all types of thermostats and ductwork.
Comprehensive home warranty plans typically cover most components of HVAC systems
What’s not covered
While a home warranty may cover most major home systems and appliances, it still doesn't cover everything. Each plan has its own limits and exclusions.
Most home warranty plans will cover HVAC system repairs and replacements; however, there are certain circumstances in which your policy won’t cover the fix. This depends on your plan, but some exclusions you can expect:
- Outside and underground piping, window units, portable units or legally mandated testing
- Problems due to insufficient maintenance
- Damage due to weather
- Preexisting issues
- Modifications made necessary by the repair or replacement of HVAC equipment, like condensers
Our top 5 home warranty picks for HVAC
Methodology: To select our top picks, the ConsumerAffairs Research Team started with all 24 companies on our home warranties guide, then eliminated all companies with a star rating below 3.5, leaving 16 companies. To narrow it down further, we analyzed 5-star reviews submitted by verified customers over the past year (Nov. 15, 2020, through Nov. 15, 2021) that mention “HVAC,” “heater,” “air conditioner” and similar phrases.
We used this review data to ultimately select the top three home warranty companies for HVAC systems. To make our final rankings, we scored companies based on their percentage of 5-star reviews and the difference between the number of 5-star and 1-star reviews.
- Number of plans: 3
- Average monthly cost: $29.99 to $69.99
- Service fee: $75, $100 or $125
American Home Shield covers 1.8 million members and has been in business for more than 50 years. It has a network of more than 16,000 licensed contractors, covering homeowners in all states except Alaska. Plans include a 30-day workmanship guarantee and cover undetectable preexisting conditions and duplicates of the same item, like an extra air conditioning unit.
Unlike some home warranty companies, AHS also covers items that break down from lack of maintenance, improper installations or repairs, and malfunctions due to rust. Most customers who have reviewed AHS on ConsumerAffairs had a satisfying experience with their home warranty service.
Coverage: American Home Shield has three plans available: ShieldSilver, ShieldGold and ShieldPlatinum. All three plans cover air conditioning and heating units with up to a 5-ton capacity. According to a sample contract, AHS will pay up to $1,500 per contract term for access, diagnosis and repair or replacement on certain systems.
Each plan includes air filter discounts, and the ShieldPlatinum plan covers unlimited air conditioning refrigerant (otherwise around $10 a pound) and a free HVAC tuneup.
Cost: The monthly cost of your plan varies based on the plan and the service call fee amount. You can opt for a $75, $100 or $125 service fee. As of publishing, you can expect to pay anywhere from $29.99 a month to $69.99 a month, or about $360 to $840 annually, for a plan with American Home Shield, based on a quote for a house of less than 5,000 square feet in Austin, Texas.
- Number of plans: 2
- Average monthly cost: $46.83 to $54.75
- Service fee: $85
Choice Home Warranty has been in business for more than a decade and provides home warranties in all states except California and Washington. It has covered over a million homes and has a network of over 15,000 contractors.
The company pledges to start a service request within four hours after you make a claim. As of publishing, CHW is offering a month of free coverage with the purchase of a single-payment plan. Most reviewers on ConsumerAffairs say Choice Home Warranty’s service team is responsive and that wait times for technicians are generally short.
Coverage: Choice Home Warranty offers two coverage plans: the Basic Plan and the Total Plan. The Basic Plan includes coverage for your heating system, while the Total Plan adds protection for the air conditioning system. Both plans cover ductwork and multiple units. In a sample contract, CHW states it has a $3,000 maximum liability for access, diagnosis, and repair or replacement.
Cost: As of publishing, based on a quote for a house of less than 5,000 square feet in Austin, Texas, you can expect to pay from $46.83 per month to $54.75 per month, or $532 to $627 annually, for a Choice Home Warranty contract. The service call fee is $85.
- Number of plans: 6
- Average monthly cost: $34.99 to $124.99
- Service fee: $55
American Residential Warranty offers home warranty coverage across all 50 states. It doesn’t require a long-term commitment, allowing you to choose a month-to-month, quarterly or annual payment plan.
ARW lets customers choose their own contractor if they want. Customers who’ve reviewed the company on ConsumerAffairs seem to appreciate ARW’s customer service and promptness.
Coverage: American Residential Warranty offers six coverage plans: Heating & Cooling, Kitchen Plus, Platinum, Platinum Premier, the 3-in-1 Bundle and the 4-in-1 Bundle. All plans except Kitchen Plus cover central air conditioning and central home heating. Ductwork is only covered in Platinum Premier and the bundles.
According to a sample contract, ARW covers heating components such as the main burner, gas valve, regulator, thermostat, fluid pump and heat coil, and air conditioning components such as the condenser, fuse, relay, transformer and motors. If your HVAC system is less than 10 years old, the maximum payout for covered repairs or replacements is $1,000, according to the sample agreement.
ARW’s Deluxe Advantage, included with the bundles, covers air conditioning refrigerant and coils.
Cost: As of publishing, you can expect to pay from $34.99 per month to $124.99 per month, or $395 to $1,425 annually, for an American Residential Warranty policy, based on a quote for a house of less than 5,000 square feet in Austin, Texas. The average for a combo plan is $60 per month, and the service call fee is $55.
- Number of plans: 3 combo and several a la carte
- Average monthly cost: $7.99 to $58.33
- Service fee: Varies
HomeServe has provided its services to more than 4 million homeowners in the U.S. and Canada during more than 15 years in business. Plans are focused on water, electrical, sewer, heating and cooling systems. Repairs from technicians come with a one-year guarantee. Many customers who’ve rated the company highly on ConsumerAffairs say HomeServe is reliable and affordable.
Coverage: HomeServe offers individual system coverage and combination plans, with the number of options varying by location.
The Heating and Cooling Plan, for example, covers blower motors and assembly, internal fuses and breakers, the condenser motor and fan, pressure switches, limit controls, main and pilot burners, pressure switch and regulator valves, and other heating and cooling system components; however, it doesn’t cover air ducts.
There is a $10,000 maximum benefit amount. A representative can tell you what other plans are available in your area.
Cost: As of publishing, the average HomeServe policy ranges from $7.99 per month to $58.33 per month, or about $96 to $700 annually, for a home under 5,000 square feet in Austin, Texas. The service fee varies based on the plan you choose. The Heating and Cooling Plan referred to above has no service call fee. Ask about discounts when you contact HomeServe for a quote.
- Number of plans: 3
- Average monthly cost: $57 to $63
- Service fee: $75 to $100
Select Home Warranty offers two plans with coverage for heating and cooling. You can pay monthly, and you get two extra months of free coverage and roof protection as of the time of publishing. Overall, customers on ConsumerAffairs are satisfied with the company, with many mentioning helpful customer service agents.
Coverage: Select Home Warranty offers three home warranty plans, but only two — Gold Care and Platinum Care — cover heating and cooling systems and ductwork. Select Home Warranty covers all parts, modules and components necessary to the operation of a heating system, such as condenser fan motors, compressors, thermostats, capacitors, relays and pressure switches.
For air conditioning systems, it covers compressors, condensers, blower motors, thermostats and more. According to the terms and conditions on Select Home Warranty’s website, the maximum repair and replacement allowance is $2,000.
Cost: As of publishing, for a house of less than 5,000 square feet in Austin, Texas, you can expect to pay from $57 per month to $63 per month, or $588 to $660 annually, for a Select Home Warranty policy. The service fee is $75 to $100, depending on your contract. You may qualify for a discount if you sign up for multiple years of coverage.
- What do the worst home warranty companies have in common?
- The worst home warranty companies tend to make claims difficult, take a long time to set up repairs, are not transparent with terms and costs and employ aggressive sales strategies.
- Will a home warranty pay to replace my AC?
- If your air conditioning unit can’t be repaired and requires a replacement, your home warranty will likely pay for the cost of a replacement. This is subject to your plan’s coverage and the maximum coverage limit, however.
- Do I need an HVAC warranty?
- HVAC systems come with a manufacturer’s warranty. If this is still in effect, you probably don’t need a home warranty. However, if the manufacturer’s warranty period has passed, you might consider a home warranty with HVAC protection. The cost to repair or replace HVAC components can make a real dent in your wallet; a home warranty helps cover these costs.
- Does an HVAC home warranty cover preexisting conditions?
- Most home warranties do not cover preexisting conditions. Some companies, such as American Home Shield, do cover undetectable preexisting conditions. Make sure you read the contract for information about preexisting condition coverage, and ask a home warranty company representative any questions you have.
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