Consumers are skeptical of product warranties, and rightfully so. Who hasn’t hit a brick wall when they’ve tried to get big repairs or replacements covered by warranty? Even when your product is under warranty, there are always exceptions and caveats that seem to exist solely to hamstring your efforts.
It’s one thing when you can’t use the warranty to replace something like a cell phone or a laptop. Yes, they’re expensive, but we only expect them to last a few years anyhow. When it comes to big-ticket appliances like fridges, air conditioners and boilers, fighting for warranty coverage is a whole other level of frustrating.
The average life expectancy of a boiler is 10-15 years (a long time in appliance years) and the standard cost to replace a boiler is a whopping $4,000. Safe to say it’s important to know what you’re getting into when you buy one.
Every manufacturer warranty is different, but in general, manufacturer warranties for boilers tend to have a lot in common. Most importantly, there are some kinds of service calls they don’t cover, including:
- ‘Emergency’ repairs. What constitutes an ‘emergency’? With most HVAC contractors, it’s anything that happens between the hours of 5 PM and 9 AM. Service companies tend to charge extra for boiler services in the winter that occur after regular hours, and warranties usually don’t cover that extra cost. If you wake up at 2 AM to a home without heat, it might be better to return to bed and wait until morning to call.
- Repairs or inspections by on-licensed contractors. Not only do boiler warranties usually not cover inspections by non-licensed or certified gas technicians, having the unit serviced by an unlicensed contractor can void the warranty entirely. That often extends to servicing the boiler yourself. In fact, that’s common with all kinds of HVAC product warranties (which is scary considering all the YouTube videos showing people how to install things like smart thermostats themselves.)
- This one often becomes a major point of contention between homeowners, contractors and the boiler manufacturer. Why? Because the manufacturer’s warranty usually separates the terms of coverage for replacement parts and the labour required to install and service those parts. For example, you might have 10 years of warranty coverage for replacement parts, but only 1 year’s coverage for labour.
The bottom line is this: before you pick up the phone and call for boiler services this winter, have a look at your warranty agreement first. Knowing where your coverage starts and ends can help you avoid stepping into an easily-avoidable pitfall. If you haven’t got a hard copy of the agreement, start by locating the model and a serial number of your boiler, then call the manufacturer.