Not only that, but our modern lives depend heavily on fridges, stoves, and washing machines. When these appliances die, they can profoundly disrupt our routines.
Many household blogs suggest saving up a maintenance fund. As we already mentioned, though, many of us struggle to pay our bills. However, some homeowners have found that home warranties offer an effective budgeting solution.
Many of these firms offer an appliance plan or “appliance insurance.” In this post, we’ll dig deeper into why you might need them, how they work, and what to watch for.
Appliance Repair/Replacement Costs Are Greater Than Most Expect
When we were tenants, many of us paid little attention to appliance maintenance or the costs associated with it. When our stove or dishwasher broke, we got on the phone with our landlord, and they took care of it.
But now, you’re the “landlord”. Even if you’re not renting out your house/condo to others, you’re now ON THE HOOK for anything that goes wrong. That includes the cost of appliance repairs or replacements.
And when that first bill comes due, you may be in for a shock. A fridge compressor costs at least $450. Washer parts, like agitators, can cost up to $500 to fix. And then, you’ve got to pay for labor. Depending on where you live and the technician, you could be shelling out $50 to $150/hour.
Did you know?
Remember: 40% of us (likely more than that now) can’t afford a $400 emergency. That means you are one broken appliance away from having to carry a credit card balance.
Replacing Mid-Range Models Can Get Very Expensive
But, things can get so much worse than that. Depending on the issue, your appliance may be a write-off. Or, repair costs may be so great, you’d be better off buying a new model.
There’s just one problem with that line of thinking – new models are pricier than ever. Sure, you could buy a new fridge for $500, but that’s what a bare-bones, budget model costs. These appliances lack space, features, and are cheaply built. The last one is key, as it’ll likely put you in the same position five years later.
If you inherited a mid-range model when you bought your current home, expect to spend north of $1,000 for a similar replacement. If you want a stainless steel fridge, an ice maker, and plenty of space, you won’t spend less than that amount.
What can you really afford
However, we just finished talking about how nearly HALF the nation doesn’t have $400 to spare. That means, if you’re looking at spending between $1,000 to $2,000 for a mid-range fridge, you’re heading into debt. As a result, you’ll have to pay interest at annualized rates of 20% or more.
If you’re already struggling financially, having this anchor tied to your back is the LAST thing you need.
Preventative Maintenance Can Maximize The Lifespan Of Appliances
Breakdowns happen. However, with vigilance, you can reduce the number of avoidable incidents, and postpone the ones are inevitable.
Let’s start with your fridge. The box that keeps your food cool/cold has a surprisingly long list of maintenance activities attached to it. For instance, every three months, you should clean the condenser coils.
Located on the back of your refrigerator, this complex system is responsible for regulating its temperature. If too much dust collects, your fridge could overheat. To remove debris, unplug the fridge, expose the coils, and vacuum them off.
Your stove also needs some periodic TLC. For example, you should clean your fan filters once every three months. Failure to do so will not only force the fan to work harder, but melting grease can drip into your food – yuck!
Don’t forget about your washer. Every time you put in a load of laundry, the agitator can put your machine through some heavy-duty stress. Protect it by not overloading your unit – if the drum is more than half-full, do two separate loads instead. Also, clean lint out of the agitator column and check water hoses for cracks regularly.
How Do Appliance Insurance Plans Work?
Eventually, though, your appliances will bite it. When they do, you’ll have to shell out hundreds or even THOUSANDS of dollars. If you don’t have enough money set aside, you might end up sliding into debt.
This predicament can be avoided by having a good appliance plan in place. Most home warranty firms offer this product through their “basic plan.” By having insurance covering most appliances at home, you can sleep easy, knowing that your monthly premium and deductible covers most issues.
But how do these plans work? Let’s assume you woke up this morning, only to find your fridge is no longer cold. Upon discovering this, you would call your home warranty provider. After confirming they cover your issue, they would then dispatch an appliance technician to your house.
At that point, you would pay a service fee. On average, this fee is around $75-80 – in most cases, that’s all you pay out-of-pocket. That’s a lot less than getting hit with a $400-$800 bill – or more if you need a replacement.
What To Watch For When Choosing An Appliance Plan Provider
We’ll level with you, though – not all home warranty firms are the same. Some do a great job looking after their customers, but others are only after a quick buck. That’s why it’s vital to vet the companies that serve your area thoroughly.
Start with consumer review sites. Google, Yelp, and Trustpilot are all excellent sources of information on customer experiences. To extract the most useful information, filter out five and one-star reviews. These accounts are highly polarized, making their accuracy questionable.
Instead, pay attention to four, three, and two-star reviews. People who leave these accounts are more measured in their praise/critiques.
After you have shortlisted 2-3 firms, check out in-depth websites like ReviewHomeWarranties.com. These professional review sites analyze what firms cover, exclusions/coverage caps, and other fine print.
After this, you’ll have the info needed to make an informed decision.
Take Care Of Your Appliances, And They’ll Take Care Of You
Household appliances have taken much of the drudgery out of modern life. Think of how different our lives would be if refrigerators weren’t a thing.
However, the conveniences these machines provide are made possible by expensive parts. When they break, the expense of replacing them can throw a wrench into your budget.
By maintaining/insuring your appliances, not only will they be long-lived, but they also won’t break the bank when they fail.