File this under unintended consequences. Touch tools have become popular in recent months. The devices allow you to do things like open a door or push a doorbell without using your fingers. This seems like a good idea for those who are concerned about contracting COVID-19 from touching infected surfaces. However, reports suggest these metallic touch tools are damaging video doorbells, like Ring.
There are benefits to owning these types of doorbells, but they're expensive and can cost a lot to replace. Fortunately, you do have options if your video doorbell gets damaged by a touch tool.
[ Read: Best Video Doorbell Cameras ]
What to Do if Your Video Doorbell Gets Damaged
The Ring video doorbell does come with a one-year limited warranty. The warranty covers malfunction "due to defective parts or workmanship." Damage due to "misuse, abuse or negligence" is not covered, however, it may still be possible to get your Ring repaired or replaced. The company includes this language in the warranty: "Ring may, in its sole discretion, make any repair or replacement with new or refurbished product or components." It's possible you could contact the company, tell them what happened and see if they'll send a new video doorbell your way at no additional charge.
Another option is the Ring Protect Plus extended warranty, but you have to sign up for it within the first year of owning your Ring. Similar to the limited warranty, it's not clear if the extended warranty covers damage, but the extra protection couldn't hurt. The plan is $10 a month or $100 a year if you purchase an annual subscription.
You could also try reaching out to your insurance company. Many homeowners policies either come with or have the option to purchase coverage for personal property.
If all else fails, and Ring won't replace your video doorbell for free or at a reduced cost, you could reach out to the person who broke the device and ask them to help pay for a new one.
[ Read: Ring Security Cameras ]
COVID-19 and Doorbells
We're all mindful right now about where we go and what we touch. Being cautious is a good idea, but how likely are we to contract the coronavirus from something like a video doorbell?
"To contract COVID from a surface would require an infected person sneeze or cough on the doorbell within the previous three days and enough viral particles would have to survive to cause an infection," said Dr. Leann Poston of Invigor Medical. "A person who touches the doorbell would then have to touch their eyes and nose to inoculate themselves with the virus."
Of course, it's still possible to contract the virus from a doorbell, but there are precautions you can take.
"If you are worried about it, then make sure to wash your hands with soap or use hand sanitizer after using the doorbell," said family physician Dr. Waqas Ahmad.
It's also useful to know how long the coronavirus can live on different surfaces. Most video doorbells are made of plastic or metal. The virus can live on these materials for up to three days, but that depends on different factors.
"The survival rate depends on many factors, including humidity and temperature," said Poston. "Warmer temperatures and exposure to sunlight decrease survival times. COVID has been shown to survive on metal and plastic for three days, but the amount of live virus decreases over time."
[ Read: Safety.com's 2020 Ring Home Security Review ]
How to Avoid Damaging a Video Doorbell
Most touch tools are made of copper or brass. These devices are advertised as having antimicrobial properties, but that's somewhat misleading. The virus can still live on these surfaces, but not for as long. The one obvious thing about copper and brass is: they're hard. Using them to push a button on a video doorbell can cause problems if you're not careful.
There are a lot of other ways you can touch video doorbells.
"A person may use disposable gloves, tissue paper or even an elbow to ring the doorbell without damaging it," said Ahmad.
If you don't want to touch a doorbell, you could always call or text someone to tell them you're outside. If you're a homeowner, be sure to communicate your concern to friends, family and delivery drivers. This is relatively easy to accomplish with friends and family. You might have to get more creative for delivery drivers and leave a note on the front door asking them to either leave the package or not touch the doorbell with a touch tool.
Remember, it's important to be safe and wear a mask while out in public. Should you own a touch tool and walk out of the house without it, don't panic.
"Touching a doorbell is not a problem if [you] do not touch [your] eyes or nose afterward," said Poston. "Whenever you touch a surface, use hand sanitizer."
The Bottom Line
Video doorbells have increased in popularity. However, due to the pandemic, touch tools made from hard materials like brass and copper, which can break video doorbells, have also surged in popularity. The Ring video doorbell comes with a limited warranty that doesn't cover damages. However, language built into the warranty may make repair or replacement possible. It's also good to understand the relative risk of contracting COVID-19 from a doorbell is minimal. You can also use disposable gloves, tissues or even your elbow instead of a touch tool to push a doorbell. And if you do press the button on a video doorbell, make sure to wash and or sanitize your hands afterward.