Air conditioning maintenance contracts offer many basic, annual services for a fixed annual price. Most contracts include inspections, cleanings, a tune-up, and replacement air filters. You can buy a plan whether your air conditioner is brand new or very old, but since they run up to a few hundred dollars per year, make sure it's the right investment for you before signing anything.
What exactly you'll get in your contract will vary, but it tends to include the basics that you would get in an annual inspection. The difference is that you're paying a flat fee annually regardless of how much work is done outside of major repairs. These contracts often come in the form of plans with varying prices, so if you feel like springing for a higher plan, you may also get no charge for parts that need replacing -- just be sure to read the fine print to see what you're getting.
Some contracts also include priority service, so if something goes wrong during the peak of summer, you'll get to have repairs that much faster without paying an emergency fee.
Contracts are helpful if you have an older unit that might need more frequent repairs, or if you live in an area where cleanings and filter replacements are needed more than just once a year. They're also helpful if you are willing to spend a flat fee to avoid any surprise costs, or if you want the security of emergency service when you really need it. Just be sure to check with multiple companies to find the best price, or to have other offers on hand when negotiating.
The biggest potential downside of a contract is that you might end up paying more overall than you would if you only called someone for as-needed maintenance or repairs. This might be an issue if you have a brand new unit that works efficiently and doesn't need much work, or if you can take care of some of the maintenance yourself, like cleaning and replacing air filters. It's worth noting, however, that some repairs -- like replacing coolant, coils, or fans -- should only be done by trained professionals.
The other downside is that you may not be able to get out of the contract even if you find a better price down the road or decide you don't need it anymore. This problem is largely alleviated by shopping around to find the best deal and reading all the fine print before you decide to commit to anything.
If you have a newer or stable unit that doesn't often need much work, and if you aren't too concerned about repair costs that may come up here and there, a contract isn't necessary. For units that work well, the contract would offer security and routine maintenance but wouldn't be as likely to save you money in the long run. Contact a company like River City Heating & Cooling for more information.