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Should You Get Your Appliances Repaired or Replaced?

Jul 8

Devices on the fritz? Before you call the Repairman Appliances Portland or head to the store, ask these questions.


In your freezer, the ice cream is melting. It won't heat up your oven. Your spinning dryer stops. If any of these machine breakdowns have occurred more than once, are you probably weighing the options for repairing or replacing appliances?


Major home appliances can be significant expenses, and when the time comes to repair or replace appliances, it can be stressful. According to Improvenet, a site for locating and getting estimates for home improvement services, for example, a high-end, side-by-side refrigerator/freezer or a gourmet cooktop can run upwards of $2,000. You probably want to extend the life of your appliances as long as possible, like any cost-conscious consumer, and choose the best time to replace them.


It can be difficult to decide if it's time to repair or replace appliances, but there are some general guidelines to assist you. Answering these five questions may show which alternative is right for you:


1. How much is that repair going to cost?

Royce Palmer, president of Columbia Appliance, a retailer in Columbia, Missouri, says that if the cost of repairing an appliance is more than 50 percent of the cost of a new one, you should consider replacing it. When deciding whether to repair or replace appliances, the cost and availability of replacement parts are also an important consideration.


There are times when you have no choice but to replace it because it no longer produces the part that is defective," Palmer says."


But, says Anthony Arroyo, owner of the repair shop Mr. Appliance of the Tri-Cities in Gray, Tennessee, the cost and logistics of installing a new appliance also need to be taken into account. He says it could still be a good option to repair an appliance, "as long as it's a bit cheaper than a new one," and if it means avoiding the complex installation of a built-in appliance.


If what Arroyo calls a "catastrophic failure" is experienced by your machine, requiring huge expenditures to fix parts and labor, then you go to the appliance store for a new purchase.


If the cost of repairing it is more than 50 percent of the cost of a new device, you should consider replacing an appliance. Royce Palmer, Columbia Appliance President


2. How old is the device?

If you decide when to replace appliances, according to HouseLogic, a website of the National Association of Realtors, you can apply the 50 percent rule to the age of your appliances as well as the cost of repairing them. That would mean replacing an appliance that is more than halfway through its expected life span and requires over half of its original cost of repair work. Consider that there are some home repairs you should never do yourself if you go the repair route and are all about the DIY craze.


How old is it that is too old?

Use the average life span as a good reference point if you are considering when to replace appliances. The average lifespan (in years) of common major household appliances, according to HouseLogic, is:


Compactor: 6
Dishwasher: 9
Disposal: 12
Dryer: 13
Electric range: 13
Exhaust fan: 10
Freezer: 11
Gas range: 15
Microwave: 9
Range hood: 14
Refrigerator: 13
Washer: 10


"Based on their usage and maintenance, the life span of household appliances varies," says Chris Granger, vice president and general manager of Sears Home Services. "For instance, the washing machine of a single person will typically last longer than that of a family because much less will be used."


Also, when considering repairing or replacing an appliance, note whether the appliance is still under warranty and how many times you have run into trouble with it. It probably still has a warranty covering parts and labor if the appliance is less than a year old, so getting it repaired could cost you nothing.


Even if the warranty has expired, the first time something goes wrong, you may not want to ditch an appliance. But if the appliance has repeatedly broken down over the last few years, creating multiple repair bills, it may be time to part ways and consider a replacement.


Repairing or replacing an appliance? This may depend on whether it is time to upgrade to an energy-efficient device.


3. Do you need an appliance that's more energy-efficient?

When deciding whether to repair or replace appliances, energy costs are another important factor. If your old appliance has a lower rating for energy efficiency than new models, you could save more money by switching it out in the long run. A useful tool for estimating how much an appliance will cost to operate is the bright yellow and black EnergyGuide label attached to all appliances on the sales floor.


An Energy Star label certifies that the appliance has met a superior energy efficiency international standard developed by the U.S. The Energy Department and the U.S. Agency for Environmental Protection. According to the Department of Energy, Energy Star-approved clothes washers and refrigerators, for example, use about 20 percent less energy than standard models.


4. Could the life of your appliance be extended by better maintenance?

By adopting a few good maintenance procedures, you may be able to put off repairing or replacing an appliance.


"For example, on a clothes dryer, one should probably check the exhaust vent at least once a year, just to ensure that the air flows properly," says Columbia Appliance's Palmer. "If they do that, it will probably prolong the dryer's life."


In your home, is it time to repair or replace appliances?

Another tip from Arroyo is to periodically vacuum your refrigerator condenser coils to remove the dust and other debris that can cause the unit to use more electricity to keep cool, located either in the back or across the bottom of the refrigerator.


Cleaning the top and oven of the range is also essential if you try to avoid repairing or replacing an appliance, Granger says.


"Keep the top burner areas of the range free of food debris so that you do not block gas flow," he says. "Clean the oven cavity according to the method recommended by the manufacturer, adjusting the frequency based on your usage."


Regularly running your dishwasher and not overloading your washer and dryer will help those appliances last longer, adds Granger.

5. Are you a Style Sticker?

In determining when to replace appliances, style preference is a final, and completely personal, point. You can see your old dishwasher breaking as a signal to get a new one that matches the color and style of the refrigerator you purchased a few months ago, if you want a uniform look in your kitchen.


Palmer advises replacing everything at once for customers who like coordination. If not, "the design may already be altered by the time you decide to substitute the other items," he says.


When to replace equipment?

It is up to you to choose to repair or replace appliances, but checking this list before you decide can help ensure that you wisely spend your money and get the results that you value most.