When you buy a product or service for your home, you want peace of mind that you're getting your hard-earned money's worth. If things happen (and they do happen), you want to know the company will stand behind its product. That's where a warranty comes in—it's a guarantee from the manufacturer promising to repair or replace the thing you purchased within a specific period of time.
“Most of the things we buy today are reliable: They come with warranties that protect us, and last the amount of time we expect them to,” says Richard M. Alderman, professor emeritus and director of the Consumer Law Center at the University of Houston.
But for total peace of mind, companies will give you the option to purchase an extended warranty to cover additional repairs or problems that happen beyond the life of the standard warranty. These come with specific terms and conditions that dictate what types of issues the company will cover—and what you'll still be on the hook for.
Most of us at some point will face the same "should you or shouldn't you" dilemma of buying the extra coverage. We asked experts to give their take on when buying an extended warranty actually makes sense—and when it doesn't!
Photo by R.Z.Owens Constructions
The projected life span of appliances is just that: a projection. There are a lot of factors that affect how long your appliances actually last.
But is it worth buying an extended warranty on one? Probably not.
“Paying for the extended warranty on home appliances is often a waste of money,” says Dan DiClerico, a home expert at HomeAdvisor. “Appliances have become more reliable, so the chance of your refrigerator or dishwasher needing a repair during the extended warranty period is low.”
Even if the appliance breaks down, DiClerico says what you pay out of pocket to fix it might be less than what you would spend purchasing the warranty.
Also, if you used a credit card to purchase the appliance, DiClerico says repairs may be covered for an additional year beyond the manufacturer’s initial warranty.
A termite infestation is a huge problem that can be eradicated only by a professional. It's costly, it's intrusive, and it's gross. The average price of a termite-control service exceeds $500; termite damage could cost thousands of dollars. That's why many pest exterminators offer the option of an extended warranty.
The average extended termite warranty costs a couple of hundred dollars and typically includes an annual inspection and complimentary treatments during the year if needed. Sometimes it even covers damage. But does this mean you should spring for it?
It largely depends on how bad the termite problem is in the first place. Cindy Mannes, vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association, is in favor of getting the extended warranty as long as you're dealing with a qualified, licensed, and trained pest control company.
Roof and siding
Photo by Argonaut Window & Door, Inc.
Your home’s exterior takes a beating during freezing temperatures, sweltering heat, and torrential downpours. And your house's roof and siding act as armor against the elements so you can avoid warping, cracking, and moisture from getting inside. But despite all this, experts agree you probably don't need the extended warranty.
“Many roofing installers will offer a multiyear warranty on a new roof if they are providing the roof turnkey, meaning they provided both the materials and labor,” says Seth Argo, president of luxury custom home developer Focus Builders, based in Nashville, TN.
So, Argo advises against a warranty unless you’re using a true wood siding.
“Most of the siding materials used in modern construction are long-lasting products,” he says.