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Waiting for Furnace Repairs? 5 Steps to Prepare

Few things are more frustrating than waiting for a heating contractor when your boiler or furnace is broken. Here are 5 simple steps to take while you wait.

Man wearing parka, freezing
  1. Stay Warm: It's hard to predict how long a repair will take -- your contractor may need to order parts, which can often take several days.

    Beg, borrow or steal a temporary heat source: you won't get cold, your pipes won't freeze, and -- should your contractor recommend that you replace your furnace rather than repair it -- you will have bought yourself enough time to get a second opinion.

    Here are a few alternative heat sources:

    • If you have a fireplace, make sure you have enough wood to last a few days.
    • Space heaters are inexpensive and safe. A neighbor could probably lend you one for a few days.
    • Rental centers rent portable electric furnaces.
  2. Take Notes: Jot down a few notes about this visit from your contractor:
    • Write a description of what has gone wrong with your furnace -- then store it with the rest of your documentation.
    • List the names, dates and times of the people you spoke with at the heating contractor's company. If things take longer than you expect, you want accurate information so that you can speak with a manager.
  3. Documentation: Find your furnace's documentation, including:
    • Your furnace's warranty, and its installation / purchase date. (Most installers will cover both labor and parts for the first year after they installed your furnace. After the first year, warranties don't typically cover labor).
    • warranty documentation
    • Find the date (or at least the month / year) of your last annual maintenance -- contractors love to ask for this, and some warranties require annual tune-ups.
  4. Do Some Research:
    • Using a search engine, enter the brand and series of your furnace, and a 2- or 3-word description of the problem. For example: "trane xr80 won't ignite". Read through a few of the responses and see if anything stands out. This will allow you to discuss the problem intelligently with your contractor.
    • Call a couple of friends you trust, and ask them who their heating contractor is. If the contractor that's examining your broken furnace gives you an outrageous price estimate to repair or replace, you'll want to get a second opinion. (If your friends don't have any good suggestions, we can help you find contractors, too.)
  5. Ask a Friend to Help: If you don't feel comfortable dealing with contractors, or you'll be home alone, ask a friend to come over and hang out during the contractor's visit.

If worst comes to worst, and you have to install a new furnace, we encourage you to join our mailing list. We'll send you 4 emails over 4 days that walk you through each step of installing a new furnace.

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