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Stay Warm This Winter: 10 Things Your Home Warranty Should Cover

Katy Ward
What Your Home Warranty Should Cover for Winter
Having a vital household appliance break down can be a nightmare at any time of year, but it’s particularly distressing in winter, when we rely on our radiators and hot water supply more than ever. Unfortunately, the combination of cold weather and increased time spent indoors could mean this is precisely when these devices are most likely to fail.

Luckily, you can minimize the potential risk by taking out a home warranty plan. Typically based on a yearly membership, these policies cover maintenance costs on items such as heating systems, water heaters, and dryers.

Here, we look at 10 of the most important household appliances your home warranty plan should cover this winter.

1. HVAC

With temperatures plummeting in winter, coverage for your home’s heating, ventilation and cooling system (HVAC) is likely to be one of your top concerns when you’re taking out a home warranty.

Although the terms and conditions of policies vary, home warranty plans often protect you against faults with the following.

  • Furnaces
  • Heating systems
  • Pilot burners
  • Circuit boards
  • Gas and regulator valves

But with heating and cooling costs typically making up approximately 29% of an average home’s energy bill, preventing a total breakdown shouldn’t be your only concern. Even if your heating and air conditioning are functioning, an inefficient system could be leaking energy and pushing up your bills. With this in mind, home warranty provider American Home Shield includes an HVAC tune-up during the fall as part of its coverage.

2. Water Heaters

When a cold snap hits, taking a hot shower can be one of the most relaxing ways of escaping the wintery weather. Warm water is essential for washing dishes, cooking, and cleaning, so the water heater is probably one of the most important appliances in any household.

Despite this, many Americans are relying on older and potentially inefficient models. According to figures from the US Department of Energy, the average water heater lasts between 10 and 15 years, and, worryingly, there are 27 million US households with a water heater at least a decade old.

Although cold water coming out of a faucet may be the most obvious sign of a defective heater, there are other indications that it could be time to call in an expert, such as seeing rusty water or the temperature suddenly being too high.

Luckily, most home warranty policies will cover any repairs and replacements for your water heater and its components, regardless of whether it is tanked or tankless. 

3. Ductwork

As the mechanism through which hot and cold air flows throughout your home, it’s crucial that your ductwork is operating correctly during the colder months.

Although ductwork has a potential lifespan of up to 25 years, it typically begins to experience significant deterioration after approximately 15 years. Signs that your ductwork is in a poor state of repair include:

  • Popping or cracking noises
  • Whistling sounds
  • High energy bills 
  • Poor air circulation

While many home warranty policies will cover ductwork, others will not, which means it’s wise to check the terms and conditions of your plan to ensure you’re protected.

4. Dryers

Keeping your family’s clothes clean and dry is essential at any time of year, but it can prove particularly difficult during winter when outside drying isn’t possible. Unfortunately, the average household dryer can be subject to numerous complaints, including clogged vents, faulty thermostats, broken belts, faulty switches, and defective motors.

And with the average cost of repairing these appliances coming in between $100 and $400, it makes sense to choose a home warranty policy that covers your dryer and all its components.

Depending on the extent of the fault and the type of policy you have, your home warranty company will either repair the item or offer you a replacement.

5. Leaky Roofs

For many homeowners, when winter brings high winds and torrential rain, the idea of a leaky roof is one of their biggest concerns. 

Although most home warranty companies don’t offer roof leak coverage as standard, you can often include this type of protection as an optional add-on. While your policy won’t cover the cost of replacing your roof, it will pay out for any leaks that have occurred through normal wear and tear.

Remember that roof problems can take years, or even decades, to develop. It may therefore be particularly sensible to consider this kind of coverage if you live in an older property.

If you’re concerned about your roof, you could consider a policy with Select Home Warranty, which offers free roof leak coverage on its plans.

6. Ceiling Fan Repair

While we tend to associate ceiling fans with keeping us cool during the summer months, these devices can also help us to reduce heating costs in winter. You can reverse the spin direction on a ceiling fan to push warm air down from the ceiling and increase room temperatures.

Despite their usefulness, however, several relatively common problems can occur with ceiling fans. As they often double as light fixtures, you could notice flickering lights or wobbling fittings. A noisy ceiling fan could indicate a sticky ball bearing or a loose connection.

Although many home warranty plans cover ceiling fan repair, others do not. When you’re purchasing a policy, it therefore makes sense to check the terms and conditions of your coverage carefully. 

7. Electrical Wiring

Whatever the time of year, it’s vital that you maintain the electrical wiring in your property, as failing to do so could result in a life-threatening disaster such as a fire.

The best home warranty plans will cover the electrical components in your property’s built-in systems or other major appliances. This includes items such as electrical wiring, ceiling and exhaust fans, doorbells, light fixtures, and garage door openers.

If you’ve upgraded or modified the electrical equipment in your home, you may need to purchase additional protection as an optional add-on to your policy.

8. Plumbing

While problems with plumbing can take place any time of year, issues such as frozen pipes are more likely to occur during the winter months as extreme weather conditions take hold.

Although most home warranty plans will protect you against problems such as pipe leaks or toilet tank issues, the level of coverage varies greatly between companies, so it’s essential you do your homework. Depending on your home’s plumbing systems, you may also need to purchase additional coverage for your sump pump, spa, or swimming pool.

Note that even if your home warranty plan does include plumbing coverage, many policies come with exclusions, such as the following, that they will not cover:

  • Stoppages caused by a collapsed drain
  • Broken lines that are outside your home’s foundation
  • Replacement of entire bathtubs, showers, or sinks

9. Instant Hot- and Cold-Water Dispensers

Having immediate access to both hot and cold water can be especially convenient in winter, with most families spending longer inside than at any other time of year. 

But, as with any appliance, additional usage of these devices could also lead to an increased likelihood of problems. Some of the most common problems with hot- and cold-water dispensers include poor pressure, obstructions in water supply, and trapped air.

And with the Home Service Club estimating that the average cost of repair to these items is between $176 and $423, it could be sensible to choose a plan that includes protection for these items. 

10. Smart Devices

Energy bills are one of the major outgoings for most families in the colder months, and smart devices are an effective way to reduce energy usage. It’s no surprise, therefore, that research from Stastista estimates that 37% of US households owned a smart home device in 2020.

A smart thermostat, for example, allows you to control the heating in your property through your smartphone. If these devices break down in winter, it could be especially problematic, as it may mean that you are unable to turn your HVAC on or off. Without a working thermostat, your HVAC may not receive commands to start heating, which could prove dangerous in cold weather.

Several home warranty providers, such as Super, specifically name smart devices among the items covered on their policies.

Conclusion

If you’d struggle with the cost of replacing a major household appliance, having home warranty coverage could be especially important during the winter months. While most policies include items such as your HVAC and water heater as standard, you may need to add others as optional extras. Before you buy a policy, it’s a good idea to list all the key appliances in your home and find a plan that covers all your essentials.

Whichever appliances you need coverage for, remember to keep them in good working order, as most policies will not cover items that haven’t been subject to necessary maintenance or show signs of being handled roughly by their owners. In this case, your provider may decide that you are at fault for any equipment failure.

When you keep this in mind, the right home warranty can cover your important appliances and help you stay warm this winter.

Katy Ward
Oxford graduate Katy Ward is a seasoned journalist and editor covering personal finance and software topics for Eleven Writing and Top10. Over a 15-year career, Katy has worked with several finance titans, including Barclays, Tandem Bank, and Yahoo! Finance.