Things you probably don't need to pay for in your home

Many of us pay hundreds of dollars a year for certain services for our home, but a consumer group says you really don't need many of them.
Posted at 7:30 AM, Oct 16, 2023

Bills are so high right now, the very last thing anyone wants to do is throw money away. But in and around the home, it turns out many of us pay for things we're never going to use or services we can do ourselves.

A nonprofit consumer advocacy group has listed 65 things you may not need to pay for after all.

Home warranty regrets

Yvonne McCloud knows about overspending. She has a broken dishwasher as well as a broken oven.

She thought a home warranty she was paying for would cover everything. But for both appliances, this proved not to be the case.

McCloud said her home warranty company contractor could not repair the appliances and offered her just a fraction of what a replacement would cost.

"They offered me $246 for the dishwasher," she said. "But that doesn't even cover the cost of taking it out and delivering a new one."

Worse, she said the contractor her warranty company sent over made two holes in her wall and did not patch them.

"So I've got a hole in my kitchen wall and two holes downstairs," McCloud said.

And to top it all off, her dishwasher is still broken.

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Things you may not need to pay for

A home warranty is one of the 65 things you probably don't need to pay for, according to a list compiled by Consumers' Checkbook.Executive editor Kevin Brasler said too many exclusions are buried in the fine print.

"If you dig into their policies," he said, "you'll find that. And these are still expensive purchases."

"And the worst part about home warranties is you, the homeowner, don't get to decide who does the work," he added.

Brasler says the same applies to most furniture and carpet protection plans that you pay extra for.

"Most of these plans just have so many loopholes, so many fine print exemptions," he said.

Brasler also suggested you skip air duct cleaning unless you notice that your air ducts are extremely dirty.

"You definitely do want to change your furnace and air conditioning filters regularly," he said. "But there is very little evidence that having your ductwork cleaned does any good."

Besides warranties and air duct cleaning, Consumers' Checkbook says other costs to avoid include: 

- A cable package if you find you're mostly streaming your TV.

- A home gym that you'll never use.

- Home alarms with expensive monthly contracts.

Yvonne McCloud isn't sure her $500-a-year warranty was worth it.

"It's a nightmare," she said. "I get so frustrated with them."

There are cases where these items may be worth paying for; for instance, if you are committed to using your home gym three or four times a week, you have mold or dust visible in your vents, or you are in a high-crime area and want the best alarm system possible.