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August 05, 2021

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? 



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...