Friday, May 31, 2013


Posted on 2013-05-31 15:53:56

For the past six years, home warranty service companies have been the No. 1 "worst graded" category by Angie's List members. In 2010, 54 percent of the reviews on these types of businesses received a D or F grade. Members misunderstanding or disagreeing with what their warranties cover and the quality of repair work are cited in the majority of complaints.
Understand the fine print
In order to minimize misunderstandings, experts stress the importance of reviewing and understanding a service contract before purchasing a home warranty.
"Like anything else, make sure you shop around," says Tim Meenan, executive director of the Service Contract Industry Council, a national trade association that supports home warranties and advocates the regulation of the industry. "Read what's covered and the exclusions. If you read those two sections, you'll have a good idea if it's a policy you want to buy."
A home warranty service contract isn't an insurance policy that protects you from loss, but is meant instead to provide service, repair or replacement on a home's appliances and major systems, such as heating and electric. Typically, contracts are good for one year. "It gives people peace of mind," he says. "Lots of folks can finance a service contract but cannot finance a new $4,000 HVAC unit."
The average cost of a basic coverage plan ranges from $350 to $500 a year, with the cost of an enhanced plan adding $100 to $300. Prices reflect not only coverage, but also a company's loss history, which is determined by how often an item breaks down and the cost to repair it. Some home warranty companies offer additional coverage for certain items, such as a well pump or pool, for an extra fee. Regardless of the type of plan, homeowners typically pay an additional service fee ranging from $50 to $75 for each repair job.
Shelton says he feels like he understood the terms of his warranty contract and was frustrated at HMS for only paying for a specific component of the A/C, which wouldn't work unless he replaced the entire unit. "I've paid [HMS] $4,000 over the years, including $50 for every service call," Shelton says. "I would have been better off putting that money in a savings account."
HMS National president Doug Stein declined to speak to Angie's List Magazine. Nine other home warranty companies didn't respond to our interview requests and neither did the National Home Service Contract Association, a nonprofit trade organization comprised of some of the largest home warranty companies.
A spokesperson for one of the home warranty companies told us NHSCA asked its members to refrain from participating in the story, but Arthur Chartrand, counsel for the NHSCA, repudiated that assertion, writing in an e-mail, "Our communique to all NHSCA members ... actually suggests that members reply, but stated, 'All members are free to make their own judgment call in regard to your inquiries.'"
Differing opinions
Twenty-four percent of Angie's List members responding to a recent online poll say they have a home warranty - and many echoed Shelton's sentiments, arguing they're a waste of money. Member Patrick McGranahan of Winters, Calif., says even though his new home purchase came with a warranty from American Home Shield, he found the policy to be underrated.
"I did the math, and I figure you're paying all this money for the warranty and then you pay $50 to $75 for every service call - it really doesn't add up," he says. "Plus, the people they sent to do the work were late and unprofessional. I got real put off."
On the other hand, member Michelle Morgan of San Clemente, Calif., had nothing but good things to say about the contractors American Home Shield sent out to repair her pool and spa, and plans to use them, if necessary, in the future. Gayle Wilson of Los Angeles says she's successfully utilized her AHS plan 10 times in the past five years for repairs to her washer, dryer, refrigerator, freezer, microwave and clogged drains. "I'm delighted to have someone to call when I have a problem," she says.
Nearly two-thirds of members who took our poll say their home warranty came with the purchase of a house. "It's something I recommend on every transaction," says highly rated real estate agent Beth Smith Shuey of Keller Williams Realty in Charlotte, N.C. "But I warn my clients that not everything is going to be covered." Nonetheless, Smith Shuey says 95 percent of her clients who buy a home close on the deal with a warranty included.
The real estate connection
Throughout the country, the real estate industry is closely tied with home warranty service contracts. "It's about liability control," says Mark Finchem, a highly rated associate broker for Long Realty Company in Tucson, Ariz. He requests sellers pay for a home warranty on every contract to reduce their chances of being sued if an appliance or system breaks down. "You're telling the buyer everything you know about the house in a disclosure statement, but what happens to those things that you've forgotten about?" he says.
While home warranty companies often market their services to realty companies, neither individual agents nor brokers are permitted to receive referral fees for promoting one warranty company over the other. "In the past, warranty companies would offer real estate agents a fee from $40 to $75 that was typically paid after closing for each contract written," says highly rated Realtor Jason Bowman of RE/MAX International Inc., in Mason, Ohio.
In June 2010, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a ruling that home warranty companies could not pay real estate professionals for referrals. "I actually feel this is a great thing for our industry and consumers alike because Realtors can offer their customers better advice on warranty program decisions when the financial motive is out of the picture," Bowman says.
Like many Realtors, he relies on his past experiences when suggesting a home warranty company. "If there's a customer service issue relating to a particular warranty company, I won't offer their service," Bowman says. "On the other hand, I'll report positive feedback from past clients to new buyers."
Even with the new rule in place, some agents don't endorse them. "I think home warranty contracts are a good concept, but mislead buyers into thinking that they offer a guarantee on the house," says highly rated Realtor Jen Geisinger of Maple Grove, Minn. "I also think the fine print can be prohibitive to the needs of many situations that buyers are likely to encounter."
Warranty companies speak out
Not every warranty company offers coverage to homeowners nationwide, but the industry is regulated in all 50 states under consumer protection laws. Also, they're required to be licensed or registered by the department of insurance in 32 states, according to the SCIC. North Carolina regulates service contracts under the Attorney General, while Texas regulates them through the state's Real Estate Commission.
Gwen Gallagher, president of Old Republic Home Protection, says her company strives to provide comprehensive coverage, but inevitably some claims will be turned down and could result in unhappy customers. The most common reasons they deny service is because the item, such as a broken window, wasn't covered under contract, or the service, such as replacing missing parts or components, was excluded.
Homeowners also are denied coverage if the item wasn't in good working order prior to purchasing the home. "We don't inspect properties; however, we ask that in good faith, plan holders do not place claims on pre-existing defects," says the 33-year industry veteran. "It's unfortunate when the services rendered do not meet expectations," she adds. "I can speak firsthand of the desire we have, from the top down, to make a positive difference."
To obtain the most value from a home warranty, Gallagher says it's important plan holders read and understand the coverage that's offered, and the limitations. "We've tried to make it as simple and easy-to-read as possible," she says. Old Republic offers coverage in 25 states plus the District of Columbia and plans range in price from $270 in California to $375 in Texas.
Contractor selection
In addition to thorough coverage, providing competent contractors for plan holders is a priority for most home warranty companies, according to industry leaders.
American Home Shield, has a network of 11,000 professionals to service their 1.4 million customers nationwide. Company spokeswoman Nicole Ritchie says contractors are screened during the application process, including a background check. "We believe our customers expect - and deserve - professional service at all times," she says. "However, in the unfortunate event that expectations aren't met, we encourage customers to make us aware of any issues, and we'll take corrective action as appropriate."
Contractors working for a home warranty company often have to meet set mandates before they can work on a customer's home, such as acting and dressing professionally and following specific guidelines for pricing jobs.
"They need to have the proper amount of insurance and any required certifications or licensing," says Eric Brody, customer service supervisor for highly rated Colonial Home Warranty, based in Wilmington, Del. and serving many parts of the country. "And we keep a rating system on our contractors based on feedback from customers. Their rating directly relates to how many jobs they get from Colonial." The company offers three levels of coverage for homeowners, ranging in price from $345 to $432.
Eric Lipp, owner of unrated Patriot Air in Tempe, Ariz., says he works with several home warranty companies, including Colonial, and appreciates the business, but also understands he needs to keep costs down. "When you're a startup company, it's a great way to get free leads," he says. "[Home warranty companies] know what things cost, and they reward contractors who have the cheapest ticket by giving them more work."
Colonial says pricing is one of many factors they use to rate their contractors. "Most contractors are willing to accept the negotiated rates in exchange for the higher volume of work," Brody says.
For the past 15 years, unrated Kings Appliance in Las Vegas has partnered with a number of home warranty companies. "We like that they send us business, and whatever the homeowner needs, we're here to help," says office manager Maria Reyes. Although Reyes advocates professionalism and experience among her technicians, she also says sometimes they have to compromise their service to keep costs down.
Avoiding cost restraints is just one reason some contractors choose not to partner with a home warranty company. "We've been approached by several of them, but it's really not advantageous for us," says Mike Fedor, residential service manager of highly rated WF Hann&Sons in Bedford Heights, Ohio. "They're very cookie cutter as far as repairs are concerned."
Dave Mejean, HVAC manager for highly rated B&W; Plumbing & Heating in Speedway, Ind., doesn't plan on working with home warranty companies either. "Their pay scale is nothing we want to mess with," he says. "They're looking for people to work for little money and customers might not get good, quality work."
I have in the past worked for several Home Warranty Companies. I would never purchase their coverage. These companies limit serious repairs to a few hours and very low pay per hour. Contractors are graded based on denied claims, fast patchup work and minimal repairs. There is no consideration for preventive maintenance since claims are usually denied because of  a telephone operator's perception of poor maintenance. Replacement components are to be generic or the lowest cost possible. Contractors usually experience delays getting paid and always there is nickle and diming inorder for the company to pay the lowest cost and provide minimal service to the customer.
Before entering into a contract with a Home Warranty Company check with your local BBB. Check the BBB where the company is registeres and operates.
I had a warranty with AHS for a couple of years. I paid $500-600 per year with a $50 service fee. I used thema few times, and I was happy overall with them and the contractors they sent out. I stopped using them only because I felt I could make better use of the money myself. I now make regular, automated transfers into a savings account that is specifically for home repairs and maintenance.
Couldn't be happier with the decision. This year I found some water damage to my home's stucco exterior that was caused by a failed piece of flashing. My homeowner's insurance wouldn't cover it, and it's outside the coverage of my former home warranty too. Because of the forced savings, I have the funds to pay for the repairs without impacting my day-to-day finances.
I bought my house in July and it came with an American Home Shield warranty. I've had to call them three times in the past year and each time, they've not covered the work for one reason or another. I don't feel it's worth it and the service with both the contractor they called and with AHS customer service was subpar to say the least. I won't be renewing my warranty.
I believe that article was good in that it highlighted problems with warranty companies. I previously had American Home Shield. I believe they had more ways to keep from paying claims than Carter has little pills. Having a warranty just creates a false sense of security. A company may fix a small problem so you will not drop the warranty, but when a big problem arises, it is a different story. The only good warranty would be one that covered all appliances without exception.
I've had have 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty for 2 years and they charge $100.00 per visit. So far, no REAL problems but there is a disconnect in their customer service who do not provide follow up. Some of their contractors are shady but if you do your homework and use BBB in your argument, they usually change out contractors.
We have American Home Shield, and overall they have been pretty good with us. We have had our compressor replaced and pool pump repaired. We had a freon leak from our A/C unit outside, and then a storm knocked out some switches in the garage, all of which were repaired or replaced with no problem. Our service fee is $60.00 and we pay 63.50 per month. Everything is covered with the exception of our stand alone freezer in the garage which they do not cover stand alone feezers.

 Sometimes they try new repair companies. The latest one they sent out for our pool pump, I was not impressed with and I requested they send the repair crew from Paradise Pools that had been servicing our equipment previously and that was not a problem. So far, I have had little problem with AHS home warranty, although I understand other folks have. I would like to hear any feedback anyone may have on this issue. Thanks!
I rent my old house out and had a contract with American Home Shield. They were terrible. I had a heater issue and they went out and there contrator told me I needed a new furnace and work to the tune of 6000.00. The house was 9 years old. I obtained a 2nd opinion from the company I worked with in the past and I had a 280.00 repair. 3 years later all is fine. Also, the heater replacement wasn't going to be covered for some reason. The exact reason I don't recall anymore but my opinion was these warranties are of very limited value. I paid far more than I got and when a significant problem occurred, it wasn't covered.
I have had Total Protect Home warranty for about 10 years now. I have been plagued with Air conditioning woes for that long as well. It seems that the start of every Summer and Winter, my unit fails and its always a parts replacement. Each time, the repair companies that come out say that the unit should be replaced but the Warranty company would NEVER allow that to happen. So... Am I really coming out ahead? I pay $45.00 monthly PLUS a $95.00 deductible. I'm afraid to do the math.
This article was very informative for clients and contractors working in the service related fields. We are a service based electrical company and have worked with home warranty companies in the past. Cost is a major factor in all work being performed. We want to maintain a working relationship with our clients and with such restrictions it can cause friction at time of service.
I had a HOW with AHS for 10+ years and paid extra for A/C coverage, but when my A/C went out they would not cover anything because I could not show proof the unit was serviced annually. It was in fact serviced by a friend of our family every spring. When I had the unit replaced, the service tech told me my Trane was installed improperly and resulted in failure after 5 years. This had nothing to do with maintaining the unit. I canceled my HOW with AHS and will never throw my hard earned $ away on a useless warranty. Now, I save what I would normally be paying into them, so I will have an emergency fund should anything major happen in the future.
One point you do not make is that many home warranty companies nearly double the price if the home has an area of over 5,000 square feet - even if it is only just over that size. And the service does not improve for the additional cost. I long ago stopped using these companies.
I have 2-10 Home Warranty, and I have generally been quite satisfied with their contractors and the value I get for what I pay annually. I have even added some of their contractors to my list of go-to's because I was satisfied with their work. My house was a newly constructed house, so all appliances and systems were new, but over the last 7+ years, there have been equipment failures, and for the most part 2-10 has responded quickly and according to the coverage and what I expected. It has definitely been worth the annual investment.
I had a warranty from American Home Shield, a company as disappointing as it could be. My warranty cost nearly $600/year with a service call price of $55. Technicians sent by AHS did everything possible to refuse to render service, including claim "improper installation" of an item not even related to the repair.
They broke a major appliance--of the repair company's own brand!--that I had to replace for six times the amount AHS would give me. And under AHS' own emergency standards, could not repair my furnace for days during an unusually cold spell. One AHS plumber lied to me and tried to collect additional funds on the side, and was so incompetent that he actually had no idea how to fix the problem. I knew the solution but he did not agree, showing both disrespect and ignorance. My actual cost for that repair, by an excellent plumber who came independently to the same diagnosis as I did, was thousands.
Overall, technicians sent by AHS had far less experience, skill, and ability than those with high recommendations on Angie's List. Not to mention that AHS threatened me with collection AFTER a dispute already had been resolved. If I still used AHS and could rate them, I'd give them an F. Home warranties simply aren't worth the paper on which they're printed.

We have had American Home Shield for almost 15 years. We have had minimum amount of problems. It is rare that I haven't gotten back at least as much as I have paid into the program. They require you to show that you have kept your systems up to date (yearly maintenance proof for AC for example), but they have taken care of every problem
Our biggest problem is that they do not have service people in Pleasanton. I am able to hire a local contractor and pay the contractor and AHS pays me back. AHS has 24 hours to find someone and then I am able to find a local person. We haven't had any problems with the reimbursement as we carefully have followed the AHS rules.
We have the enhanced coverage where they cover usual stuff as well as stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, installed microwave, washer, dryer, etc. My appliances are old and they either replace or repair. I know that when my AC units go out I will have to pay some amounts, but I have spoken with rep and know what my coverage will be. Communication is key--talk with the various companies before you commit.
you must establish a relationship with legitimate contractors (Angies List) and use them. I have rental houses and I know how important this is.
Any organization that refuses to answer a reasonable inquiry about their products or services should be avoided and told directly why - even if one is not currently looking for their product or service. If enough people do this they will get the message about being polite and not rude. It's an early warning signal about the quality of that business.
I have been with American Home Shield for 3 years. the only complaint I have is if something breaks on a Friday like your hot water heater or AC, you won't get service until Monday. If it is a holiday weekend, you won't see anyone until Tuesday. My AC went out on a Saturday and the company assigned to me was not open for business until Tuesday. since it was almost 100 degrees, I did not want to wait that long, so I paid out of pocket for an independent repair service.
A few years ago Sears offered a home warranty backed by USAA Insurance Co. I bought it because of USAA's excellent reputation (not Sears'). My water heater rusted out and Sears called it a "plumbing problem" and refused to do anything and charged me $50 for a service call. I complained to USAA headquarters,and the next day Sears brought out a new water heater and installed it in my house for no charge. Hooray for USAA!
I have the warranty because I need the help negotiating with service people who always want to sell you a new AC. It is a hassle and takes too long, but saves money
I have Old Republic and they have covered everything that has gone awry in my 35 year old home, including replacing a new air conditioning unit. However, it took a heck of a lot of negotiation and a lot of hassle to get them to agree to full coverage of some things. The cost of their policy for me is close to $400, and I don't have any add ons since the A/C has been replaced. I'm actually thinking of dropping them this year. My water heater is due to go out next, but I figure I've paid out close to $4500, including service calls, so I'm at my break even point.
After purchasing a home warranty through my mortgage company, HSBC, I thought it was a good idea to guard against major expenses. After paying for several years of service, I had my refrigerator stop cooling on the Friday of a holiday weekend. Although the conditions of the warranty language stated someone would be dispatched within 24 hours, when I called the emergency number, I was told no one could come out until Tuesday.
 When I contacted both HSBC and Home Sure of America to request cancellation and return of premiums paid for their violation of the terms of the agreement, HSBC ignored the letter and continued to bill me and Home Sure refused to return premiums for which they provided no service when requested. Letters to the attorney general of both NY and Florida were useless. Fortunately, I found a repairman on Angie's List and he had the refrigerator working within 45 minutes after I called.
Your article neglects to mention that American Home Shield has been named in several class action suits in the past few years, and yet realtors continue to recommend them as a CYA? That's just wrong.
What annoys me about these companies is that I get solicited by them through my mortgage company which includes their literature in my monthly statement. But disavows any connection, though they would collect the fee as an add on to my mortgage payment. EVERY company they've recommended I have checked through the BBB and found NONE of them to be worth anything. And if you go to a place like Rip Off Report, you'll find horror stories galore. I think they are a complete waste of money, better to save and prepare than expect quality service and actual replacement of entire service systems.
I purchased a First American Home Warranty with our first (and current) home. The key thing is that it does provide peace of mind after such a huge investment of cash in purchasing the house. You just want to do what you can to manage risk. And it was $245 at the time. I continued it for another five years, using it 3 times for minor stuff, and 1 time for a potentially expensive pipe leak repair and drywall patch. The contractors weren't memorable, but all did their jobs. The policies are limited and you usually pick up on that with your first call. I didn't feel scammed, though. I just decided I could take what was now $400/yr and use it for other things.
I am a HVAC contractor that will not do business with the home warranty companies. In the past, I have worked at places that did do warranty work. The standing order was to do whatever was possible to deny the claim and then to offer repairs at the companies own rates. Another tactic the warranty contractors use is to delay service over many days by claiming to order parts that are usually on hand at local suppliers.
The more reputable contractors don't handle warranties because the warranty company does not pay the contractor enough to make a profit. I get quiet a few calls from homeowners and property managers that are fed up with the hassles and want repairs done now. It's also interesting the number of Real Estate people I do business with will not use the home warranty companies for their own homes.
I have had AHS for many years, ever since I paid more than $800 for a new water heater while my neighbor paid only the then-$35 fee for AHS. It has been a mixed bag in terms of value. For small repairs, such as leaking plumbing, a glitchy appliance or garage door, etc., it is a good deal. Most of the contractors are at least competent, and many are terrific. I have always been contacted within 24 hours, perhaps because I am in the Los Angeles area. Larger items can be a challenge, however.
The contractors seems to be trained to try and palm off any repair as due to a lack of maintenance, taking it outside the contract. The appeal process is generally successful but time-consuming and annoying. The best example is my HVAC, installed in 1980. It needed constant service due to coolant leaks and general age.
Over the years, AHS practically rebuilt it (new compressor, fan, heating coil) while I had to rely on fans or space heaters during the repairs. I successfully appealed denials several times before I finally accepted the fact they were never going to replace the unit and I did it myself. Have I gotten value for my premiums? Some years yes, some years no. When it works--usually with smaller repairs--it is great.
I've had it on two different homes because both time the buyer offered it as part of the deal. On the first house, a 1920s bungalow, it was a waste of money. By definition, almost everything in the house was 'old'. When the built in floor heater's thermocoupler died, the service rep declined the claim saying that it was dusty and therefore not covered. Outrageous.
On my more recent home with modern appliances, I filed a claim for a built in cooking vent and the guy who fixed it with no problem despite the fact that it was a custom order part and took him 3 days to complete the job. Overall, I think the experience had more to do with the personalities of the contractor sent. In the first case, the guy came, seemed upset to even be there, insisted on getting the $50 fee upfront, and then spent about 3 minutes looking at the unit before declining the order. Was probably on location for 10 minutes total.
 I'm sure the insurance company 'loves' him as he keeps the costs down. The second time around, the contractor completely examined the unit before even requesting the $50 upfront fee. Was courteous and through. All that said, I did not nor would not purchase it for myself. I used it for the 1 year it existed because it was 'part of the deal', but let it expire and have been plenty happy with that decision.
 As the articles states, it's pretty much a 'feel-good / anti-liability' product for the seller of a property. The real estate agents LOVE it because if there's a problem with the place after purchase (which there always will be), they can say "talk to the insurance company" instead of "talk to me or my seller"
I bought a home warranty when I bought a home the other year. It has been a pain. I had problems because the warranty company was not paying the service company and they called me looking for the money. I had my water heater replaced that they are supposed to send me a reimbursement check. They said it would take 6-8 weeks. It's been 5 months and I am still waiting and paying interest on my credit card. I also requested to have a plumbing company come out again to do another job, but since my warranty company didn't pay them from the first job that they did the month before that, I couldn't get them to come out. The plumbing company was nothing but cooperative, my warranty company was not.
Well I have had AHS for nearly 10 years and really have no complaints. They have been out more times than I can count including major AC/Furnace work. When they can't get an item fixed, they will usually provide a stipend on a new item and very good discounts on major appliances through special vendor deals. Honestly they are Awesome!
Hi everyone. Thanks for the feedback. For those of you who said you had unsatisfactory experiences with your home warranty company, if you submit a report on your experience, our Complaint Resolution team may be able to help.
I had the seller give me the warranty. They don't cover anything. The contractor quoted me $8000 to replace my whole HVAC system. The electrician told me he doesn't go in attics after 10 AM and never checked the breaker box wiring outside. WASTE OF MONEY!
Good to about USAA because i may be changing my car insurance.
I have a policy with Old Republic, and I've used it 3 times, with very good results! The 1st year, my realtor who sold me my home paid for the policy as a housewarming gift. I have since renewed the policy myself, cost around $360/year and I find it well worth it. Old Republic has been very easy and friendly to work with, and the contractors they've sent have been reliable and professional.
This could not have come at a better time! I just finished dealing with American Home Shield for the replacement of a compressor for the outside unit of my heatpump. I reported the problem on the 13th of May, the contractor contacted me that afternoon and set up an appointment for the 16th, which they kept.
 He diagnosed the problem which was the compressor was not working and needed to be replaced. He said he had to call in the information to AHS that afternoon and they would send the replacement compressor to the contractor. That week was quite chilly so I had to order another tank of propane to use my fireplace to take the chill off the living area, plus I had to put extra blankets on my bed. I received a call on Thursday, the 18th from a gentleman at AHS who told me there would be extra charges associated with the repairs.
 They would not pay for the capture and return of the Freon, plus there was another charge for the "carry off" of the broken compressor. He also told me the work would be completed on either Monday or Tuesday of the following week (23rd or 24th). Monday morning I called the contractor to set up an appointment for Tuesday because I had doctor's appointments on Monday. I couldn't get through to the contractor, even though I called every half hour for two hours prior to departing for my appointments. When I returned at noon, the contractor's secretary had left a message that she had "just received" my message (at 1138am) and that the earliest they could get to me would be Thursday.
 I called AHS to find out why my work order didn't take priority over any new ones going to that contractor. The contractor's sec. didn't say a word about parts being received or not being received. The lady I talked with at AHS on the 26th checked records, then called the contractor. She called me back and told me one part had come in but the second part had not. (When the workers came yesterday, they only unboxed one part, so I'm skeptical about the one and two part story).
Anyway, she also told me that the part was only supposed to be shipped that Monday or Tuesday, not installed on those dates! I spent the Memorial Day weekend trying to find the coolest place to pass the time since the temperature inside my home was 87 degrees. I knew I'd get nothing from the contractor on the holiday so I called their office Tuesday morning (yesterday) to see if the part had been delivered. It had, and they said they'd be over after lunch to install the compressor.
 I watched them install it to make sure they did a good job and were conscientious with their work. The contractor told me that if he could have purchased the part from the Carrier distributor in the next town, he could have installed it the day after he diagnosed the problem. He also told me that AHS shipped the compressor FREIGHT, which he did not understand. I've been upset for 2 1/2 weeks due to the poor customer service from AHS. They cared not one iota that a customer was freezing or sweatinig to death, both of which happened to me during the 2 1/2 weeks I waited to have the compresor installed. I tend to agree with those in the article that say a home warranty is a waste of money.
 I'm very disappointed in AHS and in the contractor because neither business kept me informed of the situation or the status of the order. When my policy is up for renewal with AHS, it will NOT be renewed. I pay almost $500 per year with a $60 dollar charge for each service call. I expected better service with my A/C problem.
The home warranty that came with our house purchase (can't remember the name) was a disaster. They wouldn't pay for two plumbing problems saying they were "pre-existing conditions". We switched to American Home Shield three years ago and so far, have been satisfied. I am a senior citizen on a limited income and a $60 co-pay is much easier to pay than a several hundred dollar repair bill.
How ironic you're running this piece now. After investing in our AHS policy for years and still having subpar a/c guys out to our home repeatedly over the summer (4-5 times) bandaiding the thing, we finally got smart. The new a/c guy is here analyzing the situation. At least I got smart and am spending my money toward resolving the problem.
Have had AHS for years. Many times I've had to pay $60 for a repair person who told me that he can't fix it, because it isn't covered or is only partially covered. Lousy system, call someone and he goes away without fixing the problem.
We just signed up with Total Protect this month. We received flyers from Bank of America for several years and decided to give them a try. NOW, I'm really worried. Anyone else in Charlotte used Total Protect currently or in the past?
My experiences with home warranties has only been with American Home Shield. When I got them 10 years ago, they were the best. I felt great about not having to worry about repairs on the home I bought that was already 14 years old. In recent years though, AHS service has steadily eroded. I'm currently looking for a new warranty company, but may be stuck with these guys. If I renew with AHS, it will be for the minimum and I'll look for other coverage on issues relating to plumbing and garage doors. AHS does not give quality service, but it's better than nothing I suppose.
I currently have AHS and they are the absolute worse! My a/c went out last Wednesday. I called for services the same day and had to call AHS on Thursday night because I had not been contacted by the company assigned. I was finally contacted around 8:45 the same night and scheduled a tech to come out the next day between 10am-2pm.
 I took off work and waited in my home all day in the sweltering mini heat wave we're having in MD. By 2:30 I began calling the company to no avail. By 3:30 I reached the owner of company assigned. The owner told me he had already been to my home as I had a "blue Toyota" in the driveway. Well, I dive an Acura and my car was in the garage. The owner said he "tapped" on the door and did there was no response.
 I asked why he did not ring the works! Needless to say I called AHS and they offered to find another company for emergency service on Saturday...yeah right. Of course they were unable to find a company that would come.
 So, I was assigned another company that I had to call on Tuesday evening because I had not heard from them. I was scheduled for a service call today, Wednesday 6/1 (an entire week from initial breakdown and missing another day of work) between 10a-2p. At 2:30p I started call the company again to no avail; then called AHM waited for 25 minutes for a service rep to share that the service tech has not yet shown up.
 AHS called the company and didn't get an answer at either number the company provided. However the AHS rep said she left a message asking that the company call me directly upon receiving the message. At 3:48p I called the company and spoke with someone that says I'm still on the schedule for a service call, even though it's almost 2 hours outside my window for service. I'm still waiting in the heat for a service call. I will not be renewing with AHS! They have refused two other plumbing service calls. I'm very leery about the impending a/c service.
American Home Shield service has been good for several years but 6 weeks ago our dishwasher broke and it's still not working, this, after 5 technician visits and 2 parts orders. No one at AHS is riding herd on getting this fixed. No one stays in touch with me. I have to call in and find out what is going on. Each time a different rep answers and expresses concern; only one actually called me back to tell me parts are on order--now for 2 weeks.

Keywords: home warranty poor service

When you employ a BPI certified professional, you are employing someone who has excelled in his or her field involving one or more components of building science. I am a Certified Building Analyst with more than 36 years experience in Air-conditioning and 20 years experience with Solar Systems. A building Analyst has a sound understanding of how a building works and the energy profile of a building. When I am requested to replace an existing air conditioning system, I evaluate the installation to determine if the equipment I am proposing to install will meet the requirements of the home and its occupants. For instance, there may be persons with allergies that are new occupants to the home or there might have been conditions that caused degrading of building material.

An air conditioning sales or repair technician not familiar with Building Sciences cannot appreciate the role of the air-conditioning system with respect to Air Quantity, quality, energy usage and indoor vulnerabilities. Most companies care less about load profiles and simply replace units based on request or existing equipment installed.

BPI certified professionals are specialists in their chosen field(s). By attaining certification, you demonstrate your knowledge and skills are among the best in the country – capable of diagnosing critical performance factors in a home that impact comfort, health, safety, durability and energy efficiency.
Note: The first four certifications listed below are advanced Home Energy Professional certifications offered by BPI and supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and its National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). These credentials demonstrate advanced competency through work experience prerequisites as well as rigorous written and field exams. Learn more here.
Energy Auditor – Evaluate the energy efficiency, health, and safety of a home, and use diagnostic equipment to identify areas for energy savings. Use modeling software to produce an audit report and develop a prioritized scope of work for the customer.
Retrofit Installer – Ensure quality and compliance of proper installation/execution of products and in-home services related to existing home energy efficiency. Install residential envelope air sealing, HV/AC duct sealing, minor lighting upgrades, and basic home repairs.
Crew Leader – Ensure quality and supervise the installation and performance of weatherization measures defined in each project’s work scope developed during the auditing/estimating process.
Quality Control Inspector – Verify compliance of retrofit work performed based on work plans and standards. Use diagnostic equipment to conduct audits and inspections, and develop reports that specify corrective actions to achieve optimal whole house home performance.
Building Analyst – go beyond a traditional energy audit to perform comprehensive, whole-home assessments, identify problems at the root cause and prescribe and prioritize solutions based on building science.

Envelope – quantify performance and prescribe improvements to help tighten the building envelope (shell), stop uncontrolled air leakage and optimize comfort, durability and HV/AC performance.
Residential Building Envelope Whole House Air Leakage Control Installer – implement measures to tighten the building envelope to reduce energy loss from air leakage and also reduce pollutants and allergens through air migration. Improve thermal comfort and energy efficiency through the proper installation of dense-pack insulation materials.
Manufactured Housing – apply house-as-a-system fundamentals to the specific needs particular to the various types of housing technologies.
Heating – optimize the performance of heating equipment to help save energy and ensure occupant comfort, health and safety.
Air Conditioning and Heat Pump – understand the role of these systems within the whole home and how to diagnose and correct problems properly to achieve peak performance.
Multifamily – apply building-as-a-system fundamentals to diagnose problems and improve the performance of larger, more complex residential structures.
You can choose to achieve one designation, or expand your skill set to encompass all of them. Remember – all BPI certified professional designations are based on house-as-a-system fundamental building science. The designations are not meant to take the place of your other qualifications, but to enhance them and build upon them to make you one of the most valuable contributors to the home performance industry.
When next you are considering replacing your HVAC system, or upgrading to a more efficient system, consider having a Building Analyst or a Certified Building Professional evaluate your home and provide with a system that works not a system that runs.



One of the main set back to PV solar electricity is the current of the inverter. Although micro electronics has reduced the loading effect of the inverter. Modern inverters still consume significantly high currents during operation.

Solar panels produce DC current at a voltage and amperage that depends on the module's design and the outside conditions, such as weather, positioning, and orientation.

The main problem with traditional string inverter systems is that the string of panels will act as if they are all one large panel, but who's peak production is only going to be as high as the lowest producing panel. For example, if a panel has a slight, 5% higher resistance due to a minor manufacturing defect, the entire string will perform 5% worse. This issue is also dynamic, meaning that if one panel became shaded in the string, this would reduce the entire string's output dramatically even though the other panels are not shaded.

A solution to this issue is employing the use of micro inverters.
Solar Micro Inverters are very small inverters designed to handle the output of a single solar pv panel. This avoids the issues usually associated with string inverters, as micro inverters serve to isolate each solar panel from each other.

This means that any factors that affect a panels performance would have no effect on the other panels in the string. For example, if one panel were to become shaded, only the panel(s) being shaded would be affected - the rest of the system would not be affected.

The main disadvantages of micro inverters is time and cost. With a string inverter, an installer would install the panels, wire them, and then run the wire to the central inverter. With micro inverters, each module must be installed, and then the micro inverters must be installed and wired to each individual module. Then the micro inverters must be wired to a trunk cable, and then run to the junction box.

The SPP AC PV Module is a module that combines the PV module and the micro inverter during the manufacturing process. In traditional micro inverter applications, the micro inverter is attached to the junction box on the back of the panel. With this solution, the micro inverter replaces the junction box on the PV module completely. This means you have all the advantages of micro inverters, and none of the disadvantages.

With this AC Module, you never have to purchase or supply an inverter. This means no sizing calculations, no additional shipments or costs everything is already included in the AC Module.

No inverter means better performance.

Since PV modules naturally vary in voltage, current, and wattage. In traditional PV systems, modules are wired together in series and then connected to a central inverter. This inverter optimizes the performance of the entire group of PV modules, but the modules individually will not be at their optimal performance. With the Solar Panels Plus AC module, the inverter is built into the module itself.
This means that each module individually operates at it’s optimal power output, maximizing it’s power output and eliminating the losses previously mentioned.  A new technology employed in this system is one that makes handling the modules safer than ever before. Using smart-grid programming, the integrated micro inverters produce no power until they are connected to the grid with a stable electrical connection for 5 minutes.

This means that while handling the modules, making electrical connections from module to module, and during the bulk of the installation process, you are completely safe from electrical shock. Systems using micro Inverters are simpler to install.

The new AC module makes installation simpler than ever before. These systems come prepackaged with racking, wiring, and the AC module itself, allowing for a fast, clean, simple installation.
There are now only two basic installation steps : anchor the modules to the roof, and run a dedicated circuit to the roof. This makes design easy, installation simple, and keeps the system costs down, making it even more affordable for your home or business

In a typical PV system, if a module, or the central inverter, encounters a problem or is damaged, the entire system suffers power losses, or is shut down completely. With the AC module, this is no longer an issue. If one module is damaged or encounters an issue, the remainder of the system continues to operate at peak performance. This greatly improves the reliability of the PV system.

Today's homes can easily be retrofitted with PV cells. Wiring problems including critical conductor size and length are no longer an issue since AC not DC current  is delivered directly from the module.

Friday, May 24, 2013


Preventive Maintenance = $avings

Preventive maintenance agreements (PMAs) are agreements between you and Williams Air Technologies for scheduled inspections and maintenance of your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system.
PMAs are generally scheduled semi-annually to maintain peak efficiency, prevent utility overpayment, and avert system failures through predictive maintenance that can help extend the life of your HVAC system. Sometimes PMAs are also referred to as “planned maintenance agreements,” “start and checks,” or “preventative service agreements.” PMAs usually consist of fall and spring scheduled sessions for our service technician to go through your entire HVAC system preparing it for the upcoming season in a proactive approach before system failure and prior to overpaying your utility company.
Energy Consumption
The HVAC system is most likely the single biggest use of energy in your home. In commercial applications where refrigeration is applied (combined with the HVAC systems), huge amounts of energy are used in the building. In fact, over 1/3 rd of the energy used in the United States is used to heat and cool buildings.
According to the Consortium of Energy Efficiency (CEE) up to 50% more energy can be saved with proper installation, sizing, and maintenance of commercial central air conditioning and heat pumps.
Out of Sight, NOT Out of Mind
The old but true cliché “out of sight, out of mind” is often the reason for neglected maintenance guidelines for your HVAC system. HVAC systems are usually installed where they aren’t seen, such as in a section of the basement, a closet, on rooftops, or in mechanical rooms, making them easy to ignore. The systems are simply taken for granted, until they fail. Decreased efficiency, utility overpayment, discomfort, loss of productivity, eventual premature replacement, and higher repair costs are the result.
Just because your HVAC system is out of sight, does not mean it can be neglected. Getting your HVAC system checked twice annually is just as important as changing the oil in your car every 3,000 miles!
What should you expect of our highly trained HVAC technicians during a PMA visit?
  • Check system functions, safety controls, and adjust the operating sequence where appropriate.
  • Inspect electrical components and connections and repair/replace or tighten as required.
  • Ensure proper airflow and change dirty air filters.
  • Inspect pumps, lubricate, and check flow rates where appropriate.
  • Clean and lubricate motors as required.
  • Examine belts, adjust and align as required.
  • Inspect, clean and balance blowers as required
Spring Visit (preparation for summer season):
  • Clean inside coil, condensate pans, condensate traps, and condensate lines to prevent obstructions.
  • Clean outside coil and straighten fins for efficient operation.
  • Check refrigerant levels and if low, find the leak. (According to many equipment manufacturers, a 10% refrigerant loss will result in a 20% decrease in system efficiency!)
Fall Visit (preparation for winter season):
  • Clean the burner assembly.
  • Remove soot from fireside of burner.
  • Clean and check operation of humidifier.
  • Visually or with remote camera, inspect heat exchanger for cracks.
  • Adjust air/fuel ratio of burner and perform combustion analysis. (Instrumentation used for combustion analysis is a means of fine-tuning a burner to achieve maximum fuel efficiency and “optimum firing.”)
Note: For heat pump applications, winter season inspections repeat a number of the summer procedures plus several additional checks. Maintaining semi-annual PMAs for heatpumps is also important.
What’s your bottom line?
  • Savings: PMAs typically more than pay for themselves through higher efficiency, less utility overpayment, and contractor discounts. PMA customers typically receive a discount on all parts and services performed during the entire year.
  • Peace of Mind: Predictive maintenance will mean fewer system failures and a longer life for your HVAC equipment.
  • Priority Service: Should a system failure occur during the heat of the summer or the cold of the winter, customers with PMAs generally receive priority service
Williams Air Technologies has been in business for 36 years working in all industries using air-conditioning. Amoung those are National Institute of Health Bethesda Maryland.(BEIB), John Hopkins Medical Bethesda Maryland, Queen Elezabeth Jospital Barbados, Montserrat Community College, Cable and Wireless Telecommunications, Primcess Margaret Hospital Dominica, Eastern Caribbean Central Bank StKitts, Fisheries Division Dominica, Cost Guard Cutters Dominica, Many motel projects Houston Texas and StKitts, reataurants Dominica and Houston, Clinics, custom built homes and numerous residential homes and light commercial business.
We make training a priority in our business; we participate in training from Carrier, Lennox, Goodman and Comfortmaker on a continual basis.
We know Air-conditioning maintenance. We have provided critical continous service for Medical, Communication and Banking industries for many years and we can provide you with the same level of service.
We hold Membership with the American Society for Heating Refrigerating and Air- Engineers and have BPI certification.