Nothing Fine about Fine Print: A Guide to Reading Your Warranty

When it comes to reading the fine print in a warranty, there are three types of people.

1. The Rebel. The Rebel will open up a new product and quickly toss the warranty back in the box or quite possibly, straight out the window. Rebels throw caution to the wind and say “Warranty? I don’t need no stinking warranty.” They shun the very thought of reading the fine print because they don’t think that it will come in handy when they need it. Fine print doesn’t get a second glance.

 2. The Overachiever. The Overachiever loves soaking up all the dry, legal terms and conditions. They open a new product and read the instructions cover-to-cover, then curl up with a mug of hot chocolate and dive into the warranty. Legalese is their second language and they swim in a sea of fine print.

3. The Scaredy Cat. The Scaredy Cat opens a new product and is filled with dread at the sight of the warranty staring up at them from the bottom of the box. The warranty intimidates them because they know it’s confusing and dull. To the Scaredy Cat, a warranty is like a long, boring homework assignment that will cost them money if they fail to turn it in.

So, if you have ever felt like a rebel or a scaredy cat, or if you have ever looked at a warranty and thought, “There is no way I’m going to read that.” this post is for you. We have gathered a list of what to look for when you read a warranty. These are the key points to read and understand so that the next time you voyage through a forest of fine print, it will be a walk in the park.

•    What Does it Cover? It may seem obvious, but it is crucial to find out exactly what your warranty covers. Some warranties only cover moving parts, others cover parts and the labor required to fix it, and others cover everything except for accidental physical damage. The point is, at a minimum, you need to know what is covered.

•    Who Does it Cover? While you may be the current owner, there is a possibility that you aren’t covered under warranty. If your warranty is “limited” and you did not buy the product directly from the retailer or manufacturer, the warranty may not transfer to you at all. For example, Chrysler’s 2007 “lifetime” warranty boasted that it would remain in effect for as long as the owner lived. However, the guarantee was only good for the first owner, and once the car was sold, all bets were off.

•    When Does it Expire? Expiration dates are critical for warranties and if you look closely, you will probably find this information right in the title. Some examples include “90-day limited warranty” or “4 Year Extended Warranty”.

•    What will they do to correct a problem? It’s important to know what the retailer or manufacturer will do if your product breaks down. Will they repair it, replace it or simply provide technical support over the phone? If you need to ship the product back to them, who pays for shipping and handling? These are important questions to ask.

•    What about other damages? If the product breaks and causes damage to other items in your home (such as your kitchen counters, walls or floors) will the company cover the damage? This is especially important for homeowners who have invested money into their homes. If your dishwasher breaks and causes water damage to your beautiful new hard woods floors, you need to know if the additional damage is covered by your warranty as well.

•    What do I have to do to keep the warranty in effect? Be sure to look for any indication that you are required to perform scheduled maintenance on your product. This will likely include, installing and using the product according to directions, connecting the product to a power supply of sufficient voltage, replacing blown fuses and repairing loose connections or defects in the house wiring. If you’ve owned an air conditioner for thirty years and have never changed the filter, your warranty might be void. In the words of Ricky Ricardo: “You’ve got some ‘splaining to do.”

Make it your goal to answer these questions when you read through your warranty and you’ll feel much more in control if your product breaks down. If you measure your warranty against this list and you’re not satisfied, you may want to consider an extended service contract from a third party provider.

Reprinted with permission from

Maintaining Your Home: Your Responsibility

Implement a Plan

You are responsible for maintaining your home. Preventive maintenance saves you time, money, and extends the beauty and livability of your home. In order to implement a successful home maintenance plan, you should:

  1. Make maintenance a priority: The keys to cost-effective maintenance are attending to immediate maintenance needs and following the preventive maintenance program.
  2. Perform regular inspections: Inspect your home regularly and update your Maintenance Guide accordingly.
  3. Use professionals: When the maintenance tasks are outside of your expertise or ability, use professionals.
  4. Follow manufacturers’ recommendations: Failure to do so may result in voiding parts or all of your warranties.
  5. Be smart: Know your part and save money.

Manage Your Home’s Maintenance With Home Experience

Know what to do, and when and how to do it: Easy-to-follow maintenance schedules for every part of the home.

The personalized preventive maintenance schedule and home care tips give you knowledge to sustain or improve the value of your property, extend the lifespan of the products and amenities within your home and lengthen the home’s life expectancy.

The expert advice and preventive maintenance recommendations included in your Homeowner Maintenance Guide will assist you in monitoring the condition and needs of your home. They will also allow maintenance practices to be adjusted to obtain the best results that can be reasonably expected, given the conditions which exist in your home and community.

Know Your Rights and Responsibilities

Most product warranties begin at time of closing—and so do your maintenance responsibilities. Warranties last from 1 year to 10 years. Refer to the “Understanding Your Warranties” section in your Orientation Guide for detailed information about your warranties.

Your Maintenance Task List

Your Home Experience account contains specific preventive maintenance and inspection guidelines that are recommended to keep your house in great shape and help keep your warranties intact. Some of the tasks are more critical than others. We strongly recommend that you login to Home Experience to view your complete maintenance guide and Home Maintenance Summary for all of your maintenance responsibilities.