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Have you ever voided a warranty for some bizarre reason?

Kitchen products

Cleaning your coffee machine with vinegar, vacuuming up ash and other slip-ups might actually void your product’s warranty. Have you ever been refused a repair because of how you used the product?

Looking into the fine print of product warranties, there are many commonplace behaviours that will void the warranty. How you use it, how you clean it and where you keep it may all affect whether the manufacturer will agree to fix a broken product.

Cleaning your coffee machine

For example, the warranty on your coffee machine could be voided if you use it in a farmhouse, or if you don’t descale it regularly using the appropriate descaler. But make sure not to use vinegar, as that may also void your warranty.

Some coffee machine manufacturers even recommend that you keep the machine’s original packaging just in case you need to send it back for repairs, because any damage that occurs in transit will not be covered by its warranty.

If you stray too close to the fireplace while vacuuming and suck up some ash, or if you’re renovating and vacuum up some rubble or plaster, your warranty on your vacuum cleaner could very well be voided.

Or, if you have a pressure cleaner, some brands will only cover warranty repairs if you’ve used their branded detergent.

Too cold for your freezer

Keeping your washing machine somewhere that goes below zero degrees Celsius – like your garage – may also void your warranty.

We’ve heard from Which? members who have bought a chest freezer advertised as ‘suitable for outbuildings’, only to find when they read the manual that it’s designed to operate in temperatures ranging from 10 to 43 degrees. And this isn’t an issue that only affects the few. Out of 2,605 voters, 85% of you said that you keep your freezer in the garage.

The question is; are these warranty clauses actively referred to by manufacturers to turn down customers who want their products repaired?

Of course, you should remember that you have the option to go to the retailer in the first instance with your faulty product. Still, I’d love to hear your examples – have you or someone you know had a warranty repair refused based on a so-called behaviour clause?


There can be good reasons why manufacturers have exclusions in their guarantees. Beth’s example of keeping a washing machine in an unheated building is an obvious example. Most washing machines still contain some water at the end of each cycle and if this freezes it could cause damage.

This and other exclusions would apply to many different brands of products. In my view it is vital that the manufacturers tell us of conditions that don’t generally apply to similar products so that we are properly informed when buying a product.

Perhaps we should distinguish between a manufacturer’s guarantee and an insurance backed warranty in discussions about consumer rights, even though these terms are often used interchangeably.

So far I have not had any claims turned down because I have not followed instructions.


I have had a few things replaced where the manufacturer would have every right to say I had tampered with it so my fault.

One was a leaking hosepipe reel. I thought it would be simple to repair but it was impossible to put back together. I phone the manufacturer and told them what I had tried to do, and they were very understanding and replaced the reel.


Excuse me for pointing out a typo in the Intro – fourth para, after second word insert “machine”.

With reference to Graham’s comment in the Intro, wooden sheds tend to be warmer overall than garages as they benefit rapidly from any morning sunshine and retain any ambient warmth during daylight hours. They cool rapidly at dusk and are more prone to frosts but the duration of the cold period is much shorter than that with a garage so the appliance can recover well. Even when connected to or integral with the house, a garage can be persistently cold over much longer periods and the large doorway is rarely draught-proof, indeed it usually lets in a severe draught. If the garage also houses the central heating boiler that helps to maintain a frost-free condition but the boiler will usually be dormant overnight.

The response to the poll/survey is good so far as it goes, but only people with both a garage next to the house and a freezer could answer that question and that is a small minority of the population.


Thanks for flagging John, the edit has been made 🙂

Mike Hindson-Evans says:
2 April 2016

Our freezers and a fridge live in our garage. One half-height fridge (“the champagne fridge”) plus two full-height freezers have lived in our double garage (integral to the house) since we moved in at the start of 2005. There have been no failures within warranty – a freezer dying after eight years has given us the service which we expect; we defrost each one every second year. Perhaps having the full-height freezers (where your items are in slide-out baskets) may have some benefits versus the chest freezers, where you can usually count on finding something old in the perma-frost at the bottom!

You need to make sure that the freezer backs are clear of the wall to let air circulate. Our biggest problem was a mouse nest which formed, a couple of winters ago, under the compressor of one of the freezers – poor thing must have needed the warmth!



My beloved once hoovered up about half a bucket of water with her Electrolux cylinder machine, then wondered why it wouldn’t work. We then bought a Rowenta wet and dry and that still works perfectly. That was 31 years ago.

If we ruin something through our own stupidity we’ve never tried to get it fixed under warranty. Too honest, I suppose, but in the case of our Miele Cat and Dog machine it failed after nine months. That was fixed by Miele under warranty. We assumed it was dog hair causing the damage but a very nice note from the Miele folk asked us not to use it in future for sucking up plaster…


A Miele Cat and Dog Machine? Does it shampoo them or Is it a new remedy for a hangover. I am familiar with the hair of the dog but never the cat. 🙂

I happen to own a Miele vacuum cleaner that is supposed to suck up hair from your carpets but have found it doesn’t work very well on synthetic fibres due to static-electric problems. See:

campaignforwool.co.nz – Anti-Static

I haven’t complained about it as it does a pretty good job on the woollen carpets.


We had two cats so we bought a Miele Cat & Dog vacuum cleaner. Now we have no cats. Could there be a connection? It’s a very good machine and well over twelve years old now. Answers to the name of Moggie. The other v/c is confined to the ground floor and is called Henry. They seem to get on alright with each other.