Paying for Annual Maintenance - is it worth it?

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Old 10-09-13, 02:45 PM
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Paying for Annual Maintenance - is it worth it?

Is paying for a technician to come and do a boiler maintenance annually worth it. It costs around $120.
 
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Old 10-09-13, 03:07 PM
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Is this a gas or oil fired boiler?

What are they saying that they do for the $120?
 
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Old 10-09-13, 03:37 PM
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$120 doesn't sound like it would even pay for the trip. How did you get their name? I would recommend getting somebody through referrals. This might be a scheme for upselling you on costly repairs. This is a DIY forum, so many of us would not be users of such a routine agreement.
 
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Old 10-09-13, 03:49 PM
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That's actually about the going rate here in the north east Doug... typically about 120 for oil, and say 90 for gas.

It is generally considered a 'loss leader' for the companies and yes, they will ALWAYS find something else 'wrong' during the course of their 'check-up'.

If it's an oil system, you will get the usual quick tune-up of the burner, and if you are lucky they might even drag out the vacuum cleaner and brush out the combustion chamber.

You usually have to have a service contract with the oil guys in order to 'qualify' for the $120 annual service, and this is how they make up for the 'loss'... you've already paid for it with the contract.
 
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Old 10-09-13, 03:50 PM
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The question seems to be, how frequently do you need to have a "preventative maintenance" check done on your furnace (and I guess water heater, gas fireplace). I have no idea. Interesting question.

I know the company that last checked my gas furnace pushes a 3-year plan which you sign up for ahead of time. They claim to offer a lower rate than for a one off checkup/service call plus a discount on repair cost should you need a repair. I guess if they are losing money on the call, it evens out by you agreeing to have them visit annually versus whenever you remember/notice a problem.

They didn't find any issues last time they checked in Oct 2011 so I'm not sure about them ALWAYS finding something wrong to charge you extra for. Sounds like they have the same rep as auto-repair shops My furnace hadn't been checked since 2004, 7 years is probably too long.

I like to do stuff myself and I know this is a DIY forum but I'm not sure about doing my own furnace checkup ... I guess anything is doable ... seems a stretch for most shade-tree DIYers though.
 
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Old 10-09-13, 05:11 PM
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It's a natural gas boiler. $120 seems to be the standard in MN
I think they do a combustion analysis, clean the burners, some other stuff.

About two years ago I hired company to do annual maintenance for a house that I rent. During the first maintenance, they changed the one of the zone valves, then a month later heat to the upstairs wasn't on, so a tech replaced the pump(if i had known the markup for the pump was going to be so outrageous I would have changed it myself). Last year, sometimes heat to the second floor would stop. Tech told me that the boiler is cracked and the reason I can't see a leak is because the water is evaporating, and recommended I replace the unit.

Thought I needed to get it replaced so called a few hvac's for their bids. Both said the boiler doesn't need to be replaced. So I am completely baffled and tenants are getting annoyed.

I'm hoping the new tech I hired, will diagnose why the zone that I tried to bleed the air out and refill had zero water leaving. Wish me luck.
 
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Old 10-09-13, 05:54 PM
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OK, this is for an apartment building. Instead of bouncing around from one outfit to another, you need to identify a reliable service person and stick with them. Maybe a smaller company or family owned. You need to do some homework. Not much we can tell you to do from afar.
 
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Old 10-09-13, 07:38 PM
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If you get nothing out of a bleeder on an upper floor you don't have enough pressure in your boiler...Read this:

http://www.doityourself.com/forum/bo...ure-gauge.html

Yeah, you owe your tenants a reliable heating system... I know you'll do the right thing!
 
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Old 07-15-14, 08:49 AM
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This topic seems close enough, so I'm going to reply, rather than start a new thread. Are there any guidelines for scheduled cleaning/tuning of oil-fired boilers? Of course, dealers (mine included) want you to believe you need one every year. Would I consider a schedule based on annual gallons consumed (600 for me)? Age of system (mine is 20)? Is every other year ok?

My dealer's "preventive maintenance agreement" (not a "service agreement") is expensive and limited. They really want to push the agreement, so it's $10 less than a standalone cleaning/tune-up (which is included in the agreement). Still, I have to pay for each truck roll ($79), and I only get 15% off P&L once they're here. tnx.
 
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Old 07-15-14, 09:06 AM
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An ANNUAL service of oil burning equipment is recommended.

This should include BRUSH AND VACUUM the combustion chamber and heat exchanger, burner service, which is NEW NOZZLE, after which electrodes should be cleaned and adjusted, oil filter replaced, (strainer inside fuel pump should be inspected and replaced if necessary).

MY list includes a check and charge of the expansion tank, but you will RARELY if EVER see a tech go near the tank.

General inspection of the flue pipe connectors, and piping, etc. Pressure relief valve should be 'exercised' to make sure it's working properly... BUT, beware that if the relief valve has NOT been operated in many years there is a VERY good chance it will leak afterward and require replacement.

System pressure should be checked with a known good gauge and the fill valve verified to be working.

Any automatic air vents on the system should be checked for proper operation.

After burner is tuned up and unit is cleaned, the draft should be checked and adjusted, and COMBUSTION TESTING WITH INSTRUMENTS should be performed. The tech should leave you with a printout of the results.

it's $10 less than a standalone cleaning/tune-up (which is included in the agreement
If the agreement INCLUDES a 'tune-up' for less money, I can't see NOT going for the deal.

How much do they want for the agreement?

I guarantee that you WON'T get the level of service I described above though....... but that's what they SHOULD be doing IMHO.
 
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Old 07-15-14, 10:06 AM
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$189. I have to admit, they do a thorough cleaning and tune-up, and measure all the "vitals"... They don't touch the tank, but I checked it this past Spring - thanks for the sticky thread on that.

Just expensive, IMHO. In 2007, it was $89 for a cleaning. With oil margins so slim, I guess they need to make money somewhere.
 
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Old 07-17-14, 04:05 PM
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It's absolutely worth it. They should be changing the filter at the tank, the strainer and nozzle. They should also vac it out. If you don't do it it's almost guaranteed that your burner will crap out in the middle of the night in January
 
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