Friday, November 14, 2008


Deja vu.

Flashback: Circa 2006, I said to myself, "Self, our home warranty is an absolutely useless waste of money. Why on earth did we pay for it? I'm NEVER going to waste my money on another home warranty again."

Every time anything went wrong in our last house, I dutifully called the home warranty company.

Every time I called the home warranty company, they dutifully cited article blah, section blah blah, paragraph blah blah blah, sub-paragraph blah blah blah blah that CLEARLY states that [insert name of your household casualty here] is NOT covered by the home warranty. So sorry. Thank you for playing. Buh-bye. (Whew! Dodged another sucker actually trying to get us to pay for something.)

Case in Point #1: The vent from our clothes dryer went into the wall in between the laundry room and the first floor half bathroom, then down through the floor and out through the back of the house under our back deck. Well, one day, I noticed water dripping down the bathroom wall from the electrical outlet on the wall next to the sink.

Water and electricity don't tend to go well together ya know?

I would dare say they're a dangerous combination. As I got closer to inspect the scene of the casualty and identify the source of this "controlled leak," I was alarmed to discover hot, damp air gushing from around the edges of the electrical outlet. Somewhere in the wall, the dryer vent had ruptured and was venting the exhaust from the dryer into the wall, and it had found an outlet in the adjacent bathroom (pun intended).

I (foolishly) thought that the purpose of a home warranty was to pay for things that break in your home and were beyond your capability to repair. I called the home warranty company, and... copy and paste the conversation above - not covered by the warranty.

This happened like FIVE times in the two years I lived in our previous house here in Virginia (not the dryer venting through the bathroom electrical outlet mind you, but stuff braking that I thought should be covered by the home warranty.)

The home warranty covered us ONCE! They fixed the broken handle on the dishwasher. Whoopie.

Fast forward a smidge over two years.

We're in the process of buying our house in Virginia, and I told the realtor that our last home warranty was useless and I didn't want to waste our money on it. Our realtor assures us that this is a GOOD home warranty and worth the money, and my memory has experienced a typical exponential decay on WHY I believed home warranties were useless.

Now, three months later, our humidifier isn't working.

My wife called the home warranty company.

They cited article blah, section blah blah, paragraph blah blah blah, sub-paragraph blah blah blah blah that CLEARLY states that [insert name of your household casualty here] is NOT covered by the home warranty. So sorry. Thank you for playing. Buh-bye. (Whew!)


I should demand my money back.

I would be interested to see a Consumer Reports study on home warranties. Consumer Reports had a pretty interesting article on extended warranties on other items.
"Extended warranties are notoriously bad deals for the consumer but retailers push hard to get you to buy them, or service plans, because they're cash cows. We tell you why in most cases, you don't need an extended warranty."
There's another important decision at hand that dovetails with this story, but I'm going to save that for another blog post.


Sagey said...

a.) I agree it is pretty useless.
b.) It wasn't our money spent on the house, it was the sellers. The true point of the home warranty is to make the buyers believe they have no worries for the first year they own the house. Ha ha ha! So maybe IF we sell the house you can try to talk the realtor out of us getting the buyers a Home Warranty, but good luck with that one, most buyers don't buy every couple of years and don't realize the warranty is pretty useless. :-)

divrchk said...

If you're waiting for your water heater to break, I recommend buying a water alarm, if you don't already have one. That's how we new there was a problem when our sump pump broke. beep beep beep beep beep...

mlh said...

They never give out the details until you call with a problem.

Are you going to demand your money back?

Hilary said...

Another fairly useless deal is home inspection. Before buying her house, my cousin had it inspected for $300. All was reasonably well. They suggested a couple of minor repairs and the previous owners attended to them. They made mention of the roof needing to be done within 5 years, but stressed that there was nothing pressing. She bought it, moved in and within a couple of weeks, her roof leaked so severely that she now has an estimated 10 to 15 thousand dollars in damage. She was refunded the $300. And offered half of the repair cost. Insurance won't cover it. She has since learned that most inspections really don't cover what needs to be done.

Kay K said...

I hear ya'. I had an agent tell us our home warranty would cover "everything". Well, as you learned, that is not correct. (We don't use that agent anymore...)
With the next house we bought, I really looked at the different companies and what they covered (I did it online, but the office had their pamphlets). Since then, I have been very pleased. For me, the key was looking at the pamphlets myself. That way I was not going by the "it will cover everything" rule. I have had a water heater replaced, several appliance repairs done, a major plumbing stoppage cleared, and some other minor things. I can't imagine NOT having it. I renew it every year.

JoLee said...

We had one on 57th and it was a good one. But then we were told whom to get it through before getting it. WE picked the HW. There are good ones and worthless ones.

Tsoniki said...

We never did buy a home warranty, and I have the same fear - that it wouldn't cover stuff anyway. It seems better to have a savings account for home repairs and keep up on your yearly maintenance.