Failing appliances: Replace or repair?
By Gordon Powers, Sympatico / MSN Finance
As the recession deepens, more homeowners are trying to get the most out of appliances they might otherwise have trashed couple of years ago. It’s tough to know when to let go, however – particularly as repair services are spotty at best and manufacturers mark up scarce replacement parts as a way of encouraging you to buy more products.
How long have you got? The average useful life of a major appliance is about 14 or 15 years, but it varies depending upon the item, suggests industry data: 14 to 19 years for refrigerators and freezers; 14 to 18 years for ovens and ranges; 11 to 13 years for dishwashers; 11 to 14 years for clothes washers; 13 years for clothes dryers.
According to Consumer Reports, if your appliance is eight or more years old, it usually it makes sense to buy a new one, particularly if it has already been repair-prone. In its repair or replace timelines, you'll find year-by-year advice on when to fix or toss a host of different appliances, although you’ll have to subscribe to get all the details.
CR’s basic advice for products that need professional repair: Replace any for which you paid less than $150 and forget about any repair that costs more than half the price of a comparable new product. For example, it doesn't pay to repair off-warranty toasters or countertop microwave ovens.
In fact, unless you've bought a more expensive, high-end model, it might not pay to professionally repair many out-of-warranty products that are more than three years old. But if you still want to try, visit RepairClinic, a DIY site that helps people find parts and fix their own appliances.
Although junking even sort-of-new products can make economic sense, it seems to make less environmental sense. But with the tax credits available now for energy efficient appliances, it might still be a good idea to go ahead and replace that aching appliance with a new one.
Where do you draw the line when it comes to repairing or replacing?
Posted by: Alan Kerr | Aug 5, 2021 9:34:45 AM
Reasonable advice, but you'll find that many appliances these days are poorer quality than those of 5 to 10 years ago because many of them are manufactured in China. We bought a new condo and replaced all the appliances with new; fridge, stove, dishwasher and washer dryer.
These were all major brand names (Frigidaire, Westinghouse, Maytag and Whirlpool) and within 3 years we had to have major repairs on the fridge, stove and washer dryer. In fact the Whirlpool washer dryer was so badly made we had 10 service calls and eventually had to get it replaced under the warranty.
The moral of the story is, thoroughly investigate and review an appliance before you buy! It may be worth paying a bit more for good quality appliances to avoid the ongoing cost and hassle of repairs.
Posted by: Rudy DeGroot | Aug 5, 2021 9:51:37 AM
Beware when purchasing appliances at Sears. I purchased a Kenmore Fridge and Freezer side by side. in October 2007. This past July the unit stopped working, had a technician check it and he replace the relay. The unit worked for 6 days and it broko down again, called out the technician again and after checking it, I was told it needed a new compressor which would cost $500 as it was past warranty. I learned that these appliances now only have 1 year warranty on the whole unit where as before the compressor had 3 years warranty. I went to a reputable appliance dealer and purchased a new Fridge/Freezer and will never again purchase anything from Sears.
Posted by: JMW | Aug 5, 2021 9:59:28 AM
It is time for Gov't standards just as with cars, not just to protect consumers but to ensure the environment is not filled with junky. poor quality stuff often of plastics that do not get recycled!
Posted by: Stephen C | Aug 5, 2021 10:02:53 AM
Always check to make sure your item has passed its warranty date before going to your pocketbook to pay for repairs. WarrantyElephant.com is a great site to keep track of all your warranty information, and even reminds you in advance when your warranty expiry date is approaching.
Posted by: Dillion | Aug 5, 2021 12:11:09 PM
believe it or not i am in sales for GE and let me say their is no appliances like the past. I stubled upon a 1965 double oven westingtonhouse and the thing is a tank, spotless, and EVERYTHING WORKS!!!very amasing, i know. GE has been selling some great products but the life span seem to halfed up (cut in half) because of GE moving production lines to mexico?1?!? in any case great products and they seem to work great too but get the extended warrenty.
Posted by: Christine | Aug 5, 2021 12:20:24 PM
Hey Rudy the exact same thing happened to me, only they wanted to send "their repair guy" from 2 hrs driving distance at a minimum charge of 300. Our warranty was not even 1 wk past 1 year. We got another repair guy in and he replaced the compressor for under 300. labour included, and he stated Sears have very poor parts, all plastic, but our replacement was steel parts. The dates you mentioned were the same also, I guess we got the "bad batch" Christine
Posted by: Keith | Aug 5, 2021 12:42:40 PM
My question is who makes appliances that will last at least for those 10 to 14 years or so. They are not cheap and what we have purchased in the last 20/25 years have not stood up at all. We shop arround get info from family/friends and no body has found an appliance that will last. We are seniors so therefor we do not have lots of washing to do or a fridge that gets used by kids all day yet after a very short time almost all of what we own have had some sort of problem some major, not all but always something is going wrong. Just last week it was a 5 & 1/2 year old top of the line side by side. I think those manufactures know they have us consumers where they want us and unless there is a revolt of some sort it is not going to change.
Posted by: Kelly | Aug 5, 2021 1:13:04 PM
Extended Warranty is for suckers. It figures the sales guy that can’t spell it is pushing it. My fridge and stove are Kitchen Aid. My Washer, Dryer and dishwasher are Maytag. I bought everything in 2002 from Trail Appliances for a total of $5500 and have had no problems with anything. -- Never buy the cheapest appliances. You get what you pay for.
Posted by: Carol | Aug 5, 2021 1:23:56 PM
I'm on the other side of this debate. Having purchased several Sears appliances in the past and having no trouble with any of them, I am quite happy to deal with them. As a matter of fact, we just purchased a bottom freezer refrigerator from them over the weekend. And the only reason we're replacing our existing refrigerator is because it is not Energy Star rated and our province gives seniors who qualify for the provincial seniors' benefits program a rebate of $800.00 towards the purchase of a new fridge. We'll sell our existing fridge and come out ahead of the game. As for our other appliances, they are all several years old and we've had no problems with any of them.
Posted by: OS | Aug 5, 2021 2:52:49 PM
Something to keep in mind is that if you purchase your major appliance on a credit card (and even some debit cards) they will automatically double the manufacturers warranty up to a maximum of 2 years. Many of the posts I've seen here say that the appliance failed *just* after a year. We had this happen to us and because we purchase the item on our credit card, we called the card issuer and were able to get the repair reimbursed back to us as an insurance claim through the issuer.
Sure, there was paperwork and such to have to fill out but it was $265 that we didn't have pay out.
Check your cardholder agreement before you go and make that service call or decide to replace that less than 2 year old appliance!
Posted by: Lax | Aug 5, 2021 2:53:48 PM
Great advice for the unskilled home owner. I am somewhat environmentally conscious so tend to repair my appliances myself when ever possible. My current MAYTAG washer and dryer are 33 years old and still running like new. They are heavily used as we are a family of four, usually 12 to 16 loads per week.
While watching that’s 70 show we seen that the exact washer and dryer on the set. Pretty funny. I swear by these machines. The older machines were built to last, unlike today’s throw it away mentality. Although the Maytags may use more energy and water I believe that they save me money in the long run.
Posted by: Jeff | Aug 5, 2021 4:26:55 PM
Well, for me it depends on the cost of the repair vs the replacement cost. These days if there is any major work to be done the cost of the repairs can be almost equal to or greater than a new appliance. We recently replaced a 4 year old Kenmore dishwasher simply because the more they looked at it, the more work needed to be done. I was not happy with the Sears Customer Service over this but have had other Kenmore appliances that lasted for quite awhile with minimal problems. We purchased a new Frigidaire dishwasher and so far it is working fine but we made sure to get an extended warranty this time. So far the only part we had to replace was not covered under warranty (our fault) but we received a new one free from the dealer.
Posted by: Lynn | Aug 5, 2021 4:45:36 PM
I don't know who makes up these lift time guide lines but over 35 years of buying appliances I have never seen a washing machine last 14 years. I have purchased several well known brand names (Inglis, Kenmire, Maytag) and the most anyone can expect from an appliance is 5 to 6 years. With a normal family of 5 a washing machine will require costly repairs within 4 years. A fridge may last 10 as well as a stove, if you're lucky. These consumer guide lines on the life span of an appliance are very out dated.
Posted by: Barry | Aug 5, 2021 6:29:53 PM
I think the lifetime of a major appliance is as different as the owner who uses it. We have friends who have replaced dishwashers almost every two years. Others who have had nothing but issues with their fridges and still others who have had problems with stoves. Our experience is quite the opposite. We buy the cheapest dishwasher, and washer/dryer possible (under $300 for a D/W and under $800 for a W/D) and while admittedly noisy, the only repair I've ever done was to replace a valve after 3 years of use on our first d/w which we purchased USED for $50. Our first dryer finally gave up the ghost after 20+ years. We had a fridge that experienced some issues that weren't covered by warranty - BUT we didn't use the factory repair people; we shopped around and got a second and third opinion - like anything else mechanical there are a few good technicians who know how to diagnose and repair and lots of idiots who only know to guess and replace parts. The technician we chose suggested non-original equipment repair parts that had been re-engineered to fix the frequent failures and we didn't have any issues thereafter. I personally think that considering the price we pay for an appliance most of us use almost every day - we get tremendous value especially compared to our vehicles that cost many many times the price to purchase, to operate, to maintain and then fix.
Posted by: Out With The Old | Aug 5, 2021 6:59:46 PM
My dishwasher needed a new handle and i wanted to get it fixed instead of buying a new one, but once the repairman looked at it, they found that it was leaking onto the wires and was a fire hazard so it had to go. I should have read the tips better at http://www.chimpout.com/forum because i never would have let the guy install it if i had.
Posted by: innkeeperfred | Aug 5, 2021 7:44:08 PM
We use the basic washers & dryers here(16 room Inn) because in the past we have bought expensive front loaders and had nothing but trouble. We do about 20 loads a day and the basic washers last about 6 to 7 years where as the front loader lasted 2 yrs and had 3 or 4 warrenty calls.
Posted by: moj | Aug 5, 2021 8:26:40 PM
Do what I do and go to Craigs List whenever I need anything. Half the time you can get what you need free.
I just got a 2 year old 36" flat screen for fifty bucks including the receipt and a three year warranty.
A lot of people buy new and either don't want to pay to have the old removed or don't want to drag it to the curb after removing the doors etc.
The most I have ever paid for any appliance is $50 for a fridge that is now 20 years old. I have had it for 12 with no problems.
Posted by: moj | Aug 5, 2021 8:39:13 PM
to out with the old
that website is the most disgusting thing I have ever seen on the internet and you advertising makes you the second most disgusting thing I have found on the internet. if you actually believe that filth it is my sincere hope you are sterile and have a fatal illness that will hopefully wipe out your entire family.
Posted by: mike | Aug 5, 2021 9:07:29 PM
I have a Kenmore washer and dryer that are 22 years old and the only thig that was ever replaced were the water hoses on the washing machine.
Posted by: Pat | Aug 5, 2021 10:15:40 PM
I feel that I should respond to this post by Lynn......I don't know who makes up these lift time guide lines but over 35 years of buying appliances I have never seen a washing machine last 14 years. I have purchased several well known brand names (Inglis, Kenmire, Maytag) and the most anyone can expect from an appliance is 5 to 6 years. With a normal family of 5 a washing machine will require costly repairs within 4 years. A fridge may last 10 as well as a stove, if you're lucky. These consumer guide lines on the life span of an appliance are very out dated.
My current Maytag washer is 20 years old and has never had a problem....not one service call, for a family of four. My fridge is the same age: it is an Amana, but my old refrigerator, a Moffatt....is still in use in the basement without a problem and it is 31 years old. My stove also is 20 years old...not a single problem.
Posted by: realityseeker | Aug 5, 2021 11:53:03 PM
Moj - That comment was a lack of class.
Posted by: Dillion | Aug 6, 2021 2:15:59 PM
well if you bought your appliances from A & P im sorry to here that but appliances have lost their use in working capability in the past 8-12 years, however their are ppl who have washers from 30 years ago replaced for one of todays washers and think that the operation is the same and is very much mistaken. About a good quarter of new appliance owners dont understand that the washer they have bought uses half the energy, half the water and half the soap their old washer did. And by the end of it (Understandably) they now have a broken appliance. In simpler terms if it dont work within the 2 years u got it A: its a lemon or B:u broke it.
Now as that may be if you have had your appliance for the past 10 years and a small $80 part breaks, buy a new part and put it in urself, it saves you stress and money for that repairman who tests your doorbell for $60.
Posted by: J Steed | Aug 8, 2021 12:39:19 PM
Lynn, I have owned my Maytag washer and dryer set now for 22 years. They are used daily. The washer has never had any service whatsoever. The dryer has only had 1 belt replacement. My parents have had their machines for 30 years and a GE refrigerator that has been running for 49 years.
Posted by: J Steed | Aug 8, 2021 12:48:26 PM
Oh, I forgot to mention that the 49 year old GE refrigerator has never had any service done to it. It just keeps running. The only thing wrong with it is the cracked plastic handle on the crisper drawer.
Posted by: Judy Maida | Aug 10, 2021 12:03:20 AM
I OWN 2(two) Maytag Appliances purchased at the same time, I now know why the Maytag Repair Man has nothing to do It's because no one ever buys Maytag a second time.
My dish washer sounds like there's construction going on in the Kitchen!
My refridgerator doe not have an Ice maker it makes loud cracking noises several times a day everyday.
I won't purchase this brand again and certainly would not recommend it .
Posted by: tayyaba islam | Aug 10, 2021 8:04:53 AM
same here ,this time 7 years ago i decided to buy the best ,that is maytag ,fridge,double oven stove and dishwasher.i have had so much trouble with everything ,next time i am going tp stick with something half the price so it does not hurt never go for maytag
Posted by: andrew | Aug 12, 2021 10:57:29 AM
Avoid Bosch like the plague, just the biggest con going..just a fake company, never replying to emails,
-dishwasher was replaced by a Kenmore after just 3 years due to an unfixable problem of black spotting by Sears under a lemon warranty.....Kenmore (Kitchenaid) seems much better and even though "American" at least it can be fixed...
-Squeaky NExxt dryer .. apparently this is normal???
-Nexxt washer that wanders around on its own...
Dual range stove which is rusting on the inside and had cheap plastic nobs and poor enamel stove grates.
These were all supposed to be higher end products, costing many thousands... and after 5 years I really wonder ..
Let alsone Sears which has probably lost money on the service conrtacts... and seem less inclined to repair anything .