Is There A Lemon Law For Heating And Cooling Units?

HVAC Lemon Laws Do Exist

State lemon laws were instituted to protect consumers related to the auto industry, not appliances such as HVAC equipment.

Lemon laws can vary from state to state. These laws protect consumers mostly from defective cars and trucks. A federal law called the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act prohibits companies from disclaiming their implied warranties if they have any service contract or warranty in effect for appliances, including HVAC equipment.

To use HVAC lemon laws, all you have to prove is whether or not the problem is related to an equipment fault or a fault of the installer. It’s crucial to know who created the problem. Did the factory make the problem, or was it your installer?

I am not an attorney and am only referring you to an option to be investigated by you and maybe your attorney. There are several myths surrounding lemon laws. The National Lemon Law Center names a few of them.

Myth: Lemon laws only apply to motor vehicles
Fact: The truth of the matter is that lemon laws may apply to all types of consumer products that include warranties. This means that cars, trucks, SUVs, motorcycles, computers, home appliances and a number of other products may all be covered under your state’s lemon laws, as well as under federal lemon law.

National Lemon Law Center

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act was created by Senator Warren Magnuson of Washington, Rep John E. Moss from California, and Utah’s Senator Frank Moss and made federal law in 1975.

It intended to keep consumers from being hoodwinked by unscrupulous companies trying to revoke their way out of warranties.

This law says you need to give the contractor a reasonable number of tries to make repairs within a reasonable amount of time. Reasonable is a very ambiguous term. It’s probably a loophole or place for the judge to decide if there is anything like a lemon law for air conditioning units.

The lemon laws of the various individual states may be difficult to apply to residential heating and cooling products because installation issues become scapegoats for manufacturers due to a lack of skill or mistakes in the installation process.

If an installer, either by neglect or by accident, allows any dirt or particles into a refrigeration line before welding and evacuation, troubles such as stuck reversing valves or plugged TXVs could haunt a system for a long time.

Along the same lines, a poorly designed duct system or even the wrong type and size of filter could damage an air conditioner, heat pump, or even a furnace. Incorrect static pressures for an air handler or furnace will damage compressors, heat exchangers, indoor blowers, and more.

With a faulty installation, it’s doubtful that a furnace lemon law would apply. To a consumer, those types of equipment failures could easily be construed as defective equipment when it is not.

So, the blame game could be in effect. If you keep really good records, you may have a running chance of recovering some expenses.

Claiming your equipment to be qualified under a lemon law would require a great deal of diligence. Keep all receipts and document every service and phone call made or received. Just keep a journal of all events related to your problem.

The most common items at the center of lemon law cases are cars, RVs, boats, and mobile homes. However, federal warranty law applies to almost any consumer product that comes with a warranty and costs more than $10.00. (Note: The law only applies to tangible goods, not services.) Thus, household items like electronics, appliances, HVAC units, and exercise equipment also qualify.

What Happens When There Is A Breach Of Warranty?

A sales contract should include an expressed warranty. When a seller breaches an expressed warranty, the buyer can initiate a cause of action for breach of contract.

But if you look for actual court cases, such as a class action against Rheem Manufacturing Co. in 2016. Rheem Manufacturing Co. had many claims to bring on a class action, and a federal judge in New Jersey threw it out, saying that the plaintiffs didn’t plead their cases sufficiently.

The class action suit against Rheem and Ruud said the units were substandard, and small leaks had developed in the coils.

In another case, Vullings v. Bryant Heating and Cooling Systems, which was filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Bryant is a brand name under United Technologies, which is also related to Carrier. Vullings claimed the defendants violated the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act by selling defective heating and air conditioning equipment that needed constant and costly repair.

The Court order is below:

This 19th day of February, 2019, upon consideration of Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 12), Plaintiff’s Response (ECF No. 15), and Defendants’ Reply (ECF No. 16), it is hereby ORDERED
 that Defendants’ Motion is GRANTED
. Counts I, III, IV, and V are DISMISSED
 with prejudice. Counts II, VI, and VII are DISMISSED
 without prejudice.

I’ve researched extensively and found no consumers winning these cases using the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. That doesn’t mean there are no winners; they are very hard to find.

As a consumer, you are also subject to a statute of limitations, meaning you must react within a reasonable time. The two seem to contradict each other. By the time you give your contractor a reasonable amount of time, your reasonable amount of time has expired. I’m just being ridiculous. Sorry.

What To Do When I Realize My Air Conditioner Might Be A Lemon

By now, you have probably exhausted all your energy complaining to the installing contractor and perhaps the equipment manufacturer. It is time to take another approach.

If you haven’t already, gather everything related to the installation and consult an attorney. Even though the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act is a federal law, find someone familiar with lemon laws in your state.

Depending on the damages you feel you have incurred, your attorney may advise you to file in a small claims court.

I have gotten the attention of a contractor by leaving a sour review on Google Maps. As a contractor myself, as a part of training our employees, we would explain to them that if we made a customer happy, they would tell three people. If we made them mad, they would tell ten plus all their relatives for years to come. It is a very actual scenario of how consumers act when receiving services.

Can I Get A Second Opinion And Still Have A Valid Warranty?

Getting a second opinion to validate your concerns regarding your equipment being a lemon would be a good step. Some companies void warranties if other companies besides themselves work on their equipment. It’s just a precaution to consider.

Can I sue for faulty installation of HVAC system in my home?
We had our 60 year old home updated with a new HVAC system. After contacting our HVAC company over high electric bills multiple times, we got a second opinion from another HVAC company. We found out that permits were never pulled on our home for installation and nothing is up to code. Our system is not large enough for our home and there are numerous code violations for our county and our city.

If you have another opinion, consider calling a company that sells the same brand as your equipment. They would be familiar with what you have and be more likely to get support from the factory.

I’ve never had a problem getting warranty parts on a brand for which I was not a dealer. You will have to ask around until you find a company you are comfortable with for that second opinion.

Tell them you need a thorough examination of the complete system. You want their honest opinion of the quality of work, including the refrigerant charge, static pressures, equipment size relative to your home’s size, and anything else that could contribute to your ongoing problems.

If they say some of those things are unnecessary, get another contractor. Do as much as possible over the phone to save time and expensive service call fees.

They want you as their customer. Find a company with an attitude that says the customer is always right. And if the customer is wrong, they are still the customer.


After all, you’ve been through it. I’m sure you’ve considered throwing out the old system and starting over. Please consider a few things before you take any drastic steps.

Installing a new system on the same ductwork could put you in the same position. It wouldn’t be the first time that a duct system was the cause of failure—too much static pressure.

Take the time to do some research. If you need the help of a professional HVAC company and you’re nervous about being stuck with another poor installation, read this article about questions you should ask when buying a new HVAC system.

There are 30 questions in this article that will help you know if your new contractor knows his stuff.

Chad Peterson

Chad Peterson is a veteran of the HVAC industry since 1977. "I like to explain heating and air conditioning problems in a way the average home owner can understand. "

Recent Posts