In need of a fridge repair? Check your warranty first
You may just save a bundle on your broken fridge
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Here's the scenario: You have a broken refrigerator and a ton of perishable food that's about to go bad. While your food is the most immediate priority, figuring out how to fix your fridge is a close second.
Many homeowners may just pay out of pocket for a quick repair, but in doing so, you may be paying hundreds of dollars that your refrigerator manufacturer has already offered to cover.
So, why not sit back with a melty pint of Ben & Jerry's and read the fine print of your refrigerator warranty and your credit card.
Check your manufacturer's warranty policy
First and foremost, you should double-check the warranty of your specific refrigerator model. Different manufacturers have different warranty policies—and these can sometimes vary from appliance to appliance. In general, though, if you have a fridge from one of the following companies, it's likely as follows.
Frigidaire, Electrolux, GE, Bosch, Whirlpool, and most others
These manufacturers offer the standard industry warranty: one year of coverage for parts and labor. This is good enough coverage to protect you from a lemon when you've bought a new fridge, but not much else.
Most problems won't crop up for a while. If you read through user reviews, you may find complaints about how a fridge stopped working just after its warranty ran out, and while these situations are relatively rare, if it does happen it can feel terrible. If you want to mitigate that risk for peace of mind, or to protect your budget down the road, you should select a manufacturer that offers a more substantial warranty.
Hisense offers a two-year limited warranty for parts and labor—a deal that's twice as good as the standard one-year policy.
The LG refrigerator warranty is one of the best in the industry for major appliances.
General parts and labor are covered for one year, with extended coverage for products purchased on or after January 1, 2018. For these products, the sealed system and compressor are covered for up to five years for parts and labor, while the linear/inverter compressor is covered for up to a decade for parts and five years for labor.
A refrigerator compressor is what's most likely to fail, so we're glad to see LG insures them for so long, making the purchase of an LG fridge more of an investment.
Not to be outdone by LG, the Samsung refrigerator warranty offers more or less the same on its major appliances, though it doesn't seem to be limited to products made in 2018 or later.
Parts and labor are covered for one year. Specific parts—the compressor, evaporator, condenser, drier, and connecting tubing—are typically covered for up to five years, though it varies by model. Samsung also covers its digital inverter compressor parts for up to a decade and up to five years for the labor necessary to replace those parts.
Your credit card may cover your fridge repair, too
Once you've figured out your baseline warranty, you should double-check how you paid for your fridge when you bought it. If you're like most, you used a credit card. Most credit card issuers cover up to $10,000 for a single purchase, meaning a fridge will very easily fit under that cap. If you have a credit card with Amex, Capital One, Chase, Citi, or another major issuer, it's likely your benefits include extended warranty.
If you end up needing to buy a new refrigerator, first research the best ones on the market, and then buy it with a card. We recommend using one with long interest-free periods to help you space out the purchase over time without penalty.
When it comes to credit cards, read the fine print
There are a few best practices that apply to just about every credit card out there.
- Always read the fine print first. This part can be tedious (and most people don't do it), but it's important. Know the ins and outs of the deals you're trying to use before you get to the store.
- Make sure your purchase is covered. If you're buying a new fridge from a trusted retailer, it's likely it will be. Most exclusions involve cars or pre-owned items, but may also extend to items purchased on an installment plan or with your card's reward points. When in doubt, give your issuer a call.
- Put the whole purchase on a single card. Most extended warranty offers require the entire purchase to be made solely with the card in question.
- Keep your receipt and warranty information handy. After making your purchase, it's a good idea to keep a file on it, should something happen in the future. This is a good move, not only for peace of mind, but also because you're likely to be pretty stressed out when you actually do really need that info. And nobody wants to have to look up their 10-character-long model number or read through fine print while they have $800 in groceries slowing warming to room temperature.
- If anything does happen, act fast. While having a nonfunctioning fridge is less of a "put it off until tomorrow" problem and more of a panicked triage, it's still important to act fast when trouble strikes. Typically you have somewhere between 30 and 90 days to contact your issuer and work things out, and delays might throw a wrench into any procrastinator's last-minute efforts. Keep in mind that, as of late, customer service departments are backed up more than they typically would be.
What to do if you are out of warranty
If you've reviewed your manufacturer's warranty and any extensions offered by your credit card issuer and find you're out of luck, you'll just need to repair or replace the device out of pocket. If this has you feeling a bit lost, don't sweat it. Taking the necessary steps can get things back on track as fast as possible.
Once you get a price quote for the repair, be sure to measure it against how much it will cost to just replace your fridge with a new one. There are great budget options out there that may be a better choice than keeping your old appliance running.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.