Save Money By Buying Online? Not So Fast…


Undoubtedly, online shopping has drastically changed the way that Americans consume goods. The reality is that every online purchase is a roll of the dice, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but you should go into understanding that it’s a gamble. I was reminded of this the other day as I opened a box of bargain spring clothes purchased online for my daughter. The lot was about fifty percent wearable and fifty percent ‘Mom what were you thinking’.   An ill-fitting dress is one thing but the risks run especially high for home improvement purchases. Water heaters, air conditioners, furnaces, even fixtures and faucets all need to be purchased and installed by certified professionals.

There is a temptation to buy big ticket home repair or maintenance items online for a deal. It seems reasonable that opting to buy online would save you a chunk of change upfront and then it’s just a matter of DIY installation, or taking someone up on their Craigslist maintenance man ad. While this approach may take the sticker shock out of the initial purchase there are a number of considerations to weigh before you add that high stakes home maintenance item to your digital cart.

1. Not all online vendors are authorized by the manufacturer

That means that purchasing items from an unauthorized vendor could void the warranty. For example, a standard furnace’s manufacturer warranty carries approximately a 10-year warranty (up to a lifetime warranty) on the heat exchanger component. If you do happen to purchase online and get lucky enough to have a valid warranty, you would be responsible for calling the manufacturer if something goes wrong. Personally, I’m not super confident in the difference between a 24-gauge galvanized pipe or a 4×3 galvanized reducing coupling. And I definitely wouldn’t want to sit on the phone with a frustrated vendor trying to figure out which one I need, just to find out that the manufacturer’s warranty won’t cover the part anyway. By purchasing from an authorized and approved dealer like TLC, all of the materials, parts, and labor will be covered under warranty.

2. Non-authorized vendors may have older out of date products

Possibly even recalled products due to manufacturing problems. So, even if the installation went off without a hitch, the equipment could still break down and then you find yourself back at square one. An authorized dealer is going to have up-to-date equipment and parts, free of recall issues.

3. Regulations & system requirements vary by region

As a homeowner, you might not think much about energy ratings, furnace efficiency standards regulations, or city ordinances. But, your local certified TLC professional does. They will ensure all installations are up to code. This is especially important in northern New Mexico as high altitude areas have different requirements for gas pressure, fittings, and other components. Cutting corners on these adjustments may be setting you up for some expensive repairs in the future not to mention a possibly dangerous situation. The bottom line is there are several factors that you will need to know to purchase the correct unit to ensure it is the proper size, voltage & other specifications that are required for our climate and groundwater temperature.

4. Why dangerous?

Remember that furnaces work with compressed gasses. Even the smallest of leaks could cause an explosion or fire. Perhaps even deadlier is the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of burning natural gas. It is odorless and colorless and it is very dangerous if it builds up in your home. A leak could be caused by the wrong appliance, the wrong fittings or a poor installation that doesn’t take into account the requirements for your area. A certified professional will make sure that your family stays safe.

When it comes to plumbing, heating, and cooling don’t try to be the weekend warrior. Save yourself a ton of frustration and extra expense by getting an authorized professional to make sure everything is done right the first time. Of course, you should do your research online to inform yourself as a consumer. But when it comes to where to make your purchase and installation, let the professionals handle it. The time and money you think you’re saving will quickly disappear as you have to repair or replace items that weren’t installed correctly. If you want to save money in the long run on your furnace or air conditioner and ensure the health and safety of your home make sure to go to your local certified pro where it will get done the right way.