HVAC Maintenance - Surge Protector

Hello,
Thanks for the information about purchasing a Maintenance agreementfor my HVAC system. I had to purchase a new system in 2021. I bought a six-year plan, that schedules the Mtc. team to come check my system for the Summer-HVAC and Winter-Furnace months.
The team was here at the beginning of December 2023 checking my furnace. They suggested that I purchase an HVAC power surge protector.This is the first time I have ever heard of such a device being required, and I have lived in my home for 20 years. Should my system be damaged because of an electrical surge, it will not be covered by my maintenance agreement per the service agent.
Have you ever heard of this device? They quoted me a price of $231 from their company. Are you aware of any other place that I can purchase it at a cheaper price?

What’s the difference between an HVAC surge protector and a regular surge protector? I suspect nothing except the price.

According to the Mtc. team, this HVAC surge protector is outside and attached to the HVAC system.

In response,
Theresa Hendrick

Oh, to the compressor. I guess that makes sense. However, I’d guess that a surge that takes out your compressor will also take out everything else in your house, and possibly start a fire. In that case, you’d be looking at a homeowner’s insurance claim. A surge protector wouldn’t hurt, but I’d probably skip it.

I had a lighting strike many years ago that took out a circuit board in my heat pump and in my refrigerator. This year, I had a strike that took out two garage door openers and a motorized recliner.

My EMC offers a whole house surge protector with a guarantee. I don’t know the details. And yes, lighting can strike twice in the same place.

Yeah, I’d get a whole house surge protector before I’d get one that only protects the compressor. Losing two or three appliances could easily cost more than losing the compressor.

Electrical surge protectors contain one or two electronic devices called silicon oxide varistors. These are designed to redirect any surge voltage above a certain voltage number (depending on the circuit normal voltage, typically 120 or 240 volts) to your grounding system. After several high-voltage surges, these varistors can burn out and become useless. It is good to buy the type that have an indicator light to show that they are still active. I ordered one of those to be installed in my home main breaker panel.

One electrical characteristic about surge arrestors is that they are installed electrically in parallel (all working together), so that each additional device adds more voltage surge protection to a circuit, and also to the entire house. I have a surge protector installed by the power company (for a small fee) on my meter base outside the house, then the one on the main CB panel, then several other plug-in units at the receptacles that feed power to various electronic devices scattered around our house. I have had good success with these. In my former house, I also had the surge protector on that meter base. A lightning strike hit the transformer on the pole feeding my house. That transformer exploded and burned to a crisp. Nothing inside my house was damaged. As an electrical engineer, I recommend that every home owner install at least one surge protector. They are cheap insurance.

I suggest that having a “team” show up to do a routine seasonal HVAC check is a tad unusual. One guy should be able to accomplish the job, and maybe call in for assistance or parts if they run into problems.

Maybe the extra guy is looking for add-on extra cost items for which they are paid a commission. :slightly_smiling_face:

More than 1 Tech showing up for a routine seasonal check? Two scenarios come to mind.

  1. He is training the guy.

  2. He is ‘training’ the guy who he thinks is looking to get into a new line of work, but really is the owner of the company and this is “Undercover Boss”. Was there a camera guy there? :slight_smile:

I’m four years into my third heat pump. The house was build in 1984. If my math is correct, the first two units lased 35 years total. I change my filters as recommended by the installer and call for repairs when the heat pump breaks.

I considered a whole house surge protector from the power company. I was told by one of their employees that it was very difficult to get the power company to pay for damages if the surge protector fails. You would have to prove that lightning entered a house through the wiring and not from the ground or plumping system.

I’ve had one contract with a guy who was going to check and do preventive maintenance twice each year. He never showed up and I had to threaten small claims court to get my money back.

Would I have saved money with a maintenance contract? I don’t know but when Spring comes, I’m going to look for a maintenance You Tube and see if I can at least clean the outdoor radiator.

Why should the power company pay for any damages? They are doing you a favor by installing it, usually around $60. That fee that covers only for the cost of the surge protector and the labor for a guy to come out and install it on your incoming electric line (no profit). It will fail only because it was hit by a very large electrical voltage surge while protecting your home. Sometimes they will stand up to 3 or 4 large surges. Lightning is an act of nature, not something for which your power company has control, so why would you blame them?

You should plan to pay to replace the surge protector about every 5 years, at least. If you don’t want to pay the power company, then buy your own and pay to have it installed on your main breaker panel, unless you know how to do that yourself. Get the type that has a green indicator light that means the unit has not yet been burned out by a surge.

Because they say that they will before you pay for the service?

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Every power company that I know of only repairs damages to the line that comes to your house, and the meter and perhaps the meter base. (In some places,the meter base also belongs to you). Everything downstream of that point is your responsibility, even if it was caused by a power surge. That is why many power companies provide and install surge arrestors (which cost is added onto your next monthly bill). Of course there could be some city power distributors in the colder northern parts of the country that provide more help to customers. All of those in the southeast do not.

I stand corrected.

Years ago, when I first head of the surge protection guarantee, I thought the power company installed a protector for the main entry into the house. I looked up the program on the Internet today and it is described as “A warranty program for appliances like HVAC units, refrigerators, washers, dryers, dishwashers, ovens, stoves, well pumps, pool pumps, garage door openers and water heaters. Coverage starts as little as $5.75 per month.” The surge protection is an insurance policy and not a device.

I am sorry for any confusion.

Undara12, that makes sense, $5.75 per month per appliance for insuring each one for damage due to electrical surges. Then when you make a claim to the insurance company, you have to show evidence that the damage was caused by a power surge, to collect the specified amount, probably based on the depreciated value of the appliances that were damaged.

Thanks for sharing your experience with the maintenance agreement for your HVAC system. It’s surprising to hear about the suggestion for an HVAC power surge protector after all these years, right? I haven’t heard of it either, but it sounds like it could be a good investment for protecting your system. As for finding a cheaper option, have you tried checking out local hardware stores or online retailers? You might be able to snag a deal that way. Wishing you the best with your HVAC system