Over the past few years since moving into my current property I’ve seen the benefits from having a maintenance contract for services, which covers my gas boiler, certain electrical items supplier, central heating system, and drains and plumbing.
This kind of cover can mean not only financial savings, but it also brings some peace of mind. And let’s face it, if something goes wrong with your central heating or your toilet blocks up it’s usually when you don’t have much money set aside to pay to put things right!
Looking back on the occasions I have needed to call for assistance I can recall the gas boiler breaking down on at least five occasions – usually in the middle of a cold winter. The current charge by British Gas for a boiler repair is a minimum of £69.
I also have the boiler serviced once a year, and I’m guessing this would cost around £100 (this is the charge made by one large energy supplier for one-off boiler servicing)
Moving on to blocked drains and toilets next. The toilet has blocked up twice, both times in the outside drains. The standard charge for unblocking the drain made by one large company, Dynorod, is £90. This is for calling out between the hours of 8-6 pm Monday to Friday. Call them out at other times and you are looking at paying up to double that amount.
The last time Dynorod came out I was told that there were cracks in the brickwork in the drain under the manhole cover. Someone else would come out and make all necessary repairs. I don’t have any idea how much that would have cost if it had to be paid for, say another £100.
Last week I called them out again, this time for a leak in the toilet. The pipe from the water cistern to the toilet had worked loose, causing a drip when flushing. Cost of that probably around £50 if it had to be paid for as a one-off.
Adding up all the potential charges if each repair/service had been made at the time it totals around £1075.
Purchasing a maintenance contact by my gas supplier costs £15.50 per month, and this covers boilers and controls, central heating, annual boiler service, and plumbing and drains.
This means that over four years the contract has cost £744, a saving of £331, or the equivalent of £82.75 a year, which is a good saving. And, as important to me, it has brought peace of mind knowing I won’t be hit with a big bill for any repair work, and I get any repairs done that day, or the following day, including Saturdays for any boiler problems.
Having said all the above, a maintenance contract is just like any other insurance. If you use it enough times then it more than pays for itself. If you never need any gas or drain/plumbing problems then it works out cheaper to pay for an annual boiler service as one-offs.
The problem is that we can never predict what’s going to happen where utilities are concerned, and for many being able to budget by paying a set figure monthly is the preferred way.
And, as with any kind of insurance, shop around. Don’t just settle for the company who you pay your gas and electricity bills to. There is a lot of competition out there, so it pays to check the prices several companies charge for their maintenance cover for breakdown and repair.
In my particular case my house is rented, and my landlord pays for the contract. If not it is he who would have had to pay for all the work done in the property. Either way, no question about it, savings have been made by going the maintenance contract route.