Most appliances have an average life span of anywhere from 10 to 20 years. Unless you are “fortunate” enough to have an appliance break down during a warranty period, you need to decide whether is makes sense to repair the appliance or just start over with a brand new machine.
It’s a tough question. If you don’t have an extended service contract for your appliances, repair costs aren’t cheap and it’s sometimes difficult to find a responsible, reliable repair person. But as we all try to do more with less, appliance repair can make sense IF you can be reasonably sure that this wont be the first in a long line of repair costs for the same appliance!
So how do you know? To make the go/no-go decision, several factors must be considered, including the age, cost of the appliance repair, and the chance that the appliance will break down again.
To help you decide, we’ve created this Appliance Repair vs. Replace Chart. Here’s how it works: Say, for example, you have a side-by-side refrigerator that is seven years old, and the compressor breaks. A new appliance would cost $1,500 but the compressor repair alone would be $500. Should you repair the compressor or replace the whole unit?
Using the chart, you would note that a seven-year-old refrigerator still has low risk of a repetitive failure. Therefore, it’s okay to spend up to 40% of the replacement cost on repair. Since the $500 repair cost is less than 40% of the $1,500 replacement value, you should go forward with the repair.
If the decision is a close one, use the Energy Star appliance ratings as a tie-breaker. In fact, replacing appliances even before they wear out can actually be cost-effective in the long run. A 10-year old refrigerator, for example, uses twice the electricity of a newer Energy Star-rated model. Many of today’s refrigerators run on the same electricity as a 60-watt light bulb and there are new dishwashers and clothes washers that clean more effectively with less water.
Then, of course, there’s always the “do-it-yourself” option for appliance repair, something made that much easier because of web sites like RepairClinic.com, which offers not only parts but step by step instructions for a wide range of appliance repair projects.
Finally, if you are buying new appliances, be critical in assessing special features and their associated costs (will you really use that in-door ice maker enough to justify the price and the freezer space it takes up?). Be practical about the applications of appliances’ overall design and their impact on your home’s existing systems. A double oven may look stunning, but may also stun your home’s power load, so a single-oven model with professional styling may be the better recipe for success. Double-door refrigerators with freezers on the bottom always have room for frozen pizzas. Newer smart designs for dishwashers and refrigerators replace single units with a series of drawers, but that convenience comes with a price.