Is a home warranty worth it if I can’t get a new water heater after a week?

I took a hot shower at home today. This was the first time in a week. After my home warranty company and their preferred plumber could not even tell us when we could expect to get a new water heater my husband called Home Depot who sent DRF Trusted Property Solutions that same day. The work took less than 90 minutes, so why was this so difficult for the home warranty company to get done?

First, what is a home warranty? It’s extra insurance for home appliances, wiring and plumbing. Unlike home owners insurance, a home warranty covers repairs or replacements from normal wear and aging of appliances and infrastructure. For example, they should cover the replacement a water heater that finally rusted out because it was 10 years old.

When we bought our house the seller covered one year of home warranty because most of the existing appliances were long past their manufacturer warranties and the wiring and plumbing are well out of code. Although during that first year we only used the warranty for some minor electrical and plumbing maintenance we decided to renew the coverage at our own expense because we figured that all this outdated stuff could break at any moment. Unfortunately, when that happened the home warranty wasn’t helpful.

Last Saturday I went to our basement and found a lot of water on the floor. It was coming from the water heater. We turned off the water and filed our home warranty claim. Because it was a holiday weekend we were told that someone could come out on Tuesday. After some arguing my husband got them to agree to at least send someone to diagnose the problem earlier.

A plumber came to our house on Memorial Day and confirmed that the water heater needed to be replaced. He said he couldn’t place the order until Tuesday because the supplier was closed, so we could expect him to come back on Wednesday or Thursday.

When Thursday came around we hadn’t heard from the plumber. We called but he didn’t return the message. On Friday morning the home warranty company called to let us know that disposal of the existing water heater would cost $50 that wouldn’t be covered by them.

“Fine, but when are we getting our water heater?” They said we had to ask the plumber. We left another message.

On Saturday morning my husband managed to talk to both the plumber and the home warranty company separately. They refused to do a three-way call. What he could piece together was that our water heater was sitting at a supplier outside of Chicago, and the plumber didn’t want to drive that far to get it. Not only were we definitely not getting a water heater that day but no one could say when we might get our water heater.

I wrote earlier about what it was like to go without hot water for a few days. By this point we’d been doing things like heating water on the stove for kids’ baths and for washing dishes for a week. We’d been taking cold showers in the downstairs bathroom for a week. We were tired of all of it. My husband canceled the home warranty claim, called Home Depot, and we had a new water heater in our house that day.

Because the DRF Trusted Property Solutions service team had some previous calls that took longer than expected their dispatcher called to apologize that they would be a couple hours later than expected. They apologized for a couple hours of delay?! The other guys wouldn’t even acknowledge that waiting a week might be bad service.

I was frustrated that we ended up paying for the water heater and the labor to install it since that should be what we have a home warranty for, but in the end the inconvenience was greater than the value of the money.

Is a home warranty worth it? It doesn’t seem so.


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