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2023 Hoosier Home Maintenance Survey: Homeowners Susceptible to Emergency Repair Costs

At Williams Comfort Air and Mr. Plumber, we want to help Hoosier homeowners get the most out of their HVAC and plumbing systems and equipment. We know that choosing the right equipment and performing preventative maintenance on it over time extends the life of these systems, saving people time and money. As an organization, we wanted to find out if Hoosier homeowners are proactively having maintenance performed, and if they are prepared to cover the cost of emergency HVAC and plumbing repairs if they were needed. This is why we launched our 2023 Hoosier Home Maintenance Survey.

This survey was taken by 550 anonymous Indiana homeowners. The results were concerning. Results showed that by and large, people are not prepared to cover the often costly emergency HVAC and plumbing repairs. Additionally, people are largely not proactively having routine maintenance performed on their core comfort systems (air conditioning, furnace, heat pump, water heater). Key findings from our study of Indiana homeowners found:

  • 69% do not currently have an ongoing preventive HVAC and/or plumbing maintenance plan.
  • 40% have scheduled at least one maintenance visit for their HVAC and/or plumbing system in the last year.
  • 30% have never had an HVAC and/or plumbing maintenance visit.
  • 65% have less than $1,000 set aside for emergency home repairs.
  • 57% describe paying for an unexpected bill over $1,000 as “very difficult” or “somewhat difficult”.

“Our survey found the top reason people don’t invest in preventative maintenance plans is because they simply don’t want to pay for service unless something is broken,” said Greg Wells, President of Williams Comfort Air and Mr. Plumber. “It may seem counterintuitive to spend money on HVAC and plumbing systems when nothing is broken, but in the home services industry, it usually ends up costing much more when people don’t proactively take care of their home’s core systems.”

Emergency Repair Costs: What to Expect

Financial experts often recommend saving and setting aside one percent of a home’s value for emergency home repairs, with more savings recommended for those owning older homes. For example, if your home is $226,350 (the average Indiana home price as of June 2023, according to Zillow), you should have $2,263 set aside for emergency repairs.

Research shows homeowners spent an average of $1,953 on emergency projects per household in 2022. Based on Williams Comfort Air and Mr. Plumber’s survey findings, 57% of homeowners here in Indiana would have trouble covering that cost. With annual HVAC and plumbing maintenance plans starting at $8.95 per month, it is usually more affordable in the long run to spend a little on ongoing maintenance, rather than spending a lot on a whole new system.

What Could Go Wrong?

Most homeowners understand that eventually heating and cooling systems can break down after years of use and require replacement. Not everyone realizes there are a whole host of other problems that can arise with HVAC and plumbing systems.

“Some of the worst damage I have seen was caused by the sump pump, or sump pump switch failure,” said Paul Hallam, Director of Plumbing for Mr. Plumber. “Not protecting your basement from flooding is just like gambling in a high-stakes poker game. Eventually, the house will win! Frozen pipes bursting can also be very expensive and is often avoidable with preventative maintenance and proactivity.”

A clogged air conditioning condensation drain line, an overworked air handler blower motor, or a cracked furnace heat exchanger are all examples of HVAC issues that can be caught early through proper maintenance.

“A cracked heat exchanger can be very costly, and it can also cause carbon monoxide to leak into the home,” says Roger Elkins, Director of HVAC Services for Williams Comfort Air. “Not replacing the air filter or cleaning dust buildup inside the furnace can restrict air flow, making the heat exchanger run hotter. The excess heat can cause the heat exchanger to crack, which unfortunately means replacing the entire furnace.”

The Benefits of Preventative Maintenance

Annual maintenance and tune-up services performed by professionally certified and licensed HVAC service contractors and plumbers extend the lifespan of HVAC systems and plumbing equipment and can help prevent unforeseen repairs. Results from our study found nearly 7 out of 10 Indiana homeowners (69.6%) do not invest in a HVAC and/or plumbing equipment maintenance plan.

“According to our research, most people do not invest in preventative maintenance, and then, unfortunately, are unable to afford the emergency costs that occur when systems fail or have major problems,” Wells said. “We want to help educate the communities we serve that proper maintenance can extend the life of systems—often by years. Certified professional HVAC technicians and licensed plumbers can pinpoint and resolve small issues before they become major, debilitating problems.”

Maintenance is best to have performed once a year for each of your home comfort systems (air conditioning, furnace, heat pump, and water heater) and many HVAC and plumbing company maintenance plans include annual system inspections – but only 40% of Indiana homeowners say they have scheduled at least one maintenance visit for their HVAC and/or plumbing system in the last year. Even worse, 30% admit they have never scheduled a maintenance visit for their home.

Hallam adds, “Maintaining your plumbing system is no different than maintaining your car. You would not drive your car for years without changing the oil or rotating the tires. Most homeowners know very little about their plumbing systems until they don’t have hot water, have a stopped drain, or leak. Having an annual maintenance evaluation on your system is critical to preventing these and more potential problems.”

How Much Does Preventative Home Maintenance Cost?

At Williams Comfort Air and Mr. Plumber, we call our HVAC and plumbing home maintenance program our True Comfort Membership. These plans, which can either be for plumbing, HVAC, or both services, start at just $8.95 per month.

During maintenance visits, our certified plumbers thoroughly evaluate a home’s plumbing system. This includes:

  • Inspecting Drains
  • Flushing Out Water Heater
  • Checking Water Pressure and Water Quality
  • Testing Emergency Shut-Off Valves
  • Examining Crawlspaces and Basements for Potential Problems

During maintenance visits, our certified HVAC professionals thoroughly evaluate a home’s heating and cooling systems. This includes:

  • Inspecting Indoor Coils and Cleaning Outdoor Coils
  • Checking Refrigerant Levels (if Applicable)
  • Inspecting the Heat Exchanger
  • Testing All Electrical Components of Systems

Our True Comfort Membership offers one of the industry’s most comprehensive maintenance plans available in Central Indiana. The benefits of the membership go beyond annual preventative maintenance visits; our members also enjoy discounts on other HVAC and plumbing services, 24/7 emergency services without the typical overtime charge, prioritized service placement, discounts to events in the area (like Indianapolis Indians games or Symphony on the Prairie tickets) and more.

Elkins said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! By tuning up your systems, you can prevent many costly repairs that may affect your family’s health and safety.”

Visit our True Comfort Membership page to learn more and find the membership plan that fits your home’s needs.

Survey Methodology

The 2023 Hoosier Home Maintenance Survey was conducted by SurveyMonkey on behalf of Williams Comfort Air and Mr. Plumber. Fielded between May 11-12, 2023, the results are based on 556 respondents. To qualify, respondents were screened to be residents of Indiana, 18 to 99 years of age, and currently own a home. Research was conducted with +/- 4.25% margin of error.

Survey Question 1

How much money do you have set aside in your budget for emergency home repairs?

Survey Question 2

How difficult, if at all, would it be to pay an unexpected home repair bill costing over $1,000?

Survey Question 3

Is your home currently covered by an HVAC and/or plumbing maintenance plan?

Survey Question 4

When it comes to preventive maintenance, such as a furnace tune-up, air conditioner tune-up, or water heater flush, choose what best describes you and your current home:

Survey Question 5

What has kept you from scheduling preventive maintenance on your HVAC and/or plumbing systems? Choose all that apply:

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