DIY or Warranty -- Which Appliances Can You Fix? Should You Get a Warranty?

Posted by on Jun 11, 2022

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When buying a warranty for a new appliance, a lot of things need to be considered, even by a DIYer who thinks everything can be repaired. 

How expensive is the appliance? It’s nice to think every manufacturer builds products to last a lifetime. Unfortunately, you’ll be lucky to get five good years out of a $30 toaster oven. Buying a warranty for a product that isn’t made to last and will cost just as much to repair or replace probably doesn’t make sense for most people (unless you don’t want that scrap in a landfill). 

Is the appliance complex? Many refrigerators cost thousands of dollars and have onboard logic systems that aren’t designed to be repaired by anyone who doesn’t have access to the appropriate firmware. If a fix just isn’t doable, that extra insurance may come in handy. 

Do you have the knowhow? That’s a question between you and the gods of the internet. 

Below are many of the common appliances that need repairs along with reasons why or why not to get a warranty. If you have several high-end appliances, you may want to consider an umbrella plan for your home, like the home warranties from AHS. Of course, plenty of manufacturers and stores also offer warranties for individual appliances as well. 

Oven or Stove / Cooktop
Getting a warranty for an oven or stove (cooktop) likely depends on the quality of stove. In many cases, you can fix common issues on your own. For example, if it’s a gas appliance, you can check if the gas is coming into the appliance. If you don’t hear the igniter clicking, that may be an easy part to replace. 

A lot of spills can lead to clogged ignition ports. These can be cleaned by taking off the burner head and cleaning them with a toothbrush. However, many people are understandably uncomfortable poking around gas appliances, looking for fixes. 

Many homeowners now have semi-professional or even professional level stoves. These may have electronics that control the cooking surfaces or self-cleaning functionality. These high-end ovens and stoves may have expensive replacement parts and require more complex fixes. If you own one those machines, a warranty may make sense. 

Homeowners can do a lot of maintenance on a fridge that can help extend its life and keep problems from occurring. For example, regularly dusting the condenser coils will keep them from overheating. If the ice is tasting off, you may be able to remove the ice maker and clean he parts to help keep the water pure. 

If the gasket is cracked and letting cold air out, it can likely be replaced. On the other hand, if you own a smart refrigerator with a sensor that can tell when you’re out of milk, you’ll have a much tougher time replacing the electronics. Smart appliances can cost almost twice the amount of a normal appliance to repair. If you own one, the reasons for having a warranty increase. 

Air Conditioner / Central Air / HVAC System
Your air conditioner or central air unit can have numerous issues such as noise, inconsistent temperatures, musty smells, and overheating that leads to high energy bills. Some simple maintenance is easily accomplished by the owner. For example, replacing the air filter should be done regularly. Condenser coils on an outdoor unit or window unit can probably be accessed and cleaned. Other issues probably require professional service such as replacing the refrigerant. 

If the compressor or fan motor fails, you'll need to replace those parts. 

If your dishwasher is leaking, check if there’s a faulty gasket. If that’s the case, it’s likely the part can be ordered and replaced relatively easily. A broken detergent dispenser may also be a quick fix, depending on the complexity of the dishwasher’s build. Other repairs, such as the motor or electronics, may be best left to certified technicians since you’re getting into areas of the machine where you can cause as much damage and repair. 

As far as a warranty, it likely depends on the age and expense of the machine. The cost of a repair can vary from $50 to $350 or more. If you get a warranty, check the fine print since some policies only cover certain parts. 

Your dryer may be able to be fixed with a few tools and elbow grease. First check if the vent or drum seal are in good shape. If they need to be replaced, be sure you order the appropriate part for your machine. Sometimes a bad heating element needs to be replaced. Locating the old one and installing a new one usually isn’t too difficult. If your dryer has an internal sensor that controls the amount of drying, you may want to wipe it clean every so often to keep it in shape. If the dryer isn’t getting your clothes dry, definitely check that the sensor is in good shape. 

If you’re going to tinker with a Microwave, be very careful. The oven’s capacitor holds a charge even after the machine is unplugged. If the capacitor still has a charge left in it, touching part of the oven’s metal could result in a shock. Once you’re positive the capacitor is discharged, the first step should be to check the fuse box for blown fuse. If one needs to be replaced, it’s relatively easy to do. If the fuses are fine, check the door switch. Replacing the switch is pretty easy. Beyond those two projects, you probably want to call a technician. 

Coffee Maker
To maintain a coffee maker, unscrew the bottom plate and clean the mineral deposits from the heating element. Descale the internal plumbing with a vinegar solution at least once per month to prevent scaly buildup. You can find the manual for your coffee maker online if you don't have it on hand. If you need to do a major repair on an inexpensive machine, it may just be time to get a new one.

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