Pros and Cons of Replacing vs Repairing Your Home Appliances
You invest a lot of money into your home appliances, so it’s a big decision when one breaks down – do you replace or repair it?
Getting new appliances can be exciting, especially since technology changes frequently, and new appliances can be much more convenient and energy efficient. But there’s a downside.
They can get quite expensive, so it’s a more complicated decision than you’d think. First, you need to consider the pros and cons of replacing vs. repairing your home appliances to decide which is best.
Questions to Ask Yourself When an Appliance Stops Working
When your appliances stop working, it’s normal to panic. For example, let’s say your washing machine stopped working mid-cycle. Now you have wet clothes and a slew of laundry behind it waiting to be washed.
Your first thought is to rush out and look for a new one. It can be delivered in a few days, and you won’t be inconvenienced, right?
But what if the issue isn’t anything major and could be fixed in the same amount of time or sooner, leaving more money in your pocket?
Before jumping to conclusions when an appliance stops working, ask yourself the following questions.
1. Is it Truly Broken?
First, before panicking when an appliance stops working, take a deep breath. It might be something as simple as it’s no longer plugged in. Of course, it’s usually more extensive than that, but you get the picture.
Don’t assume you automatically have to buy a new appliance before trying these tips.
- Check the outlets and cords. Is the appliance plugged in correctly? Is the outlet working? Test something else in the outlet you know works to see if it’s the outlet or the appliance itself.
- Check the circuit board. Did your circuit board trip? Maybe you had a power outage, or one breaker went out. Try resetting the circuit board to see if your appliance works again.
- Check the appliance’s cleanliness. Is it filled with dust and grime? This is especially important for dryers, washing machines, and dishwashers. Sometimes they get clogged, and a simple cleaning has them working again in no time.
2. Does the Appliance Have Useful Life Left?
When choosing between replacing vs. repairing appliances, you should consider the appliance’s useful life.
First, determine the appliance’s average lifespan. For example, refrigerators last 10 – 18 years, and ovens 13 – 23 years. Of course, every brand and individual appliance will last a different amount of time, but using this table, you can estimate what to expect.
Using the table, you can determine that if your refrigerator breaks down at 15 years, it likely has little to no useful life left, and you’re probably better off replacing vs. repairing it. However, if your refrigerator is newer, it might have plenty of useful life, making it well worth fixing.
Of course, this isn’t the only way to determine if replacing vs. repairing your home appliances is better, but it’s a good starting point. Like a car, there’s usually little reason to invest more money into an appliance near the end of its usefulness.
3. Is There Time Left on the Warranty?
If your appliance is still under warranty, there is no reason not to repair it. While the warranty may not cover everything, it’s well worth repairing if it knocks down the cost of repairs.
Check the manufacturer’s warranty and any extended warranties you purchased. Then, exhaust all options to fix the appliance with your warranty before deciding to replace the appliance.
The 50% Appliance Repair Rule
On average, it costs $175 to fix an appliance, but the cost can vary from $50 – $500, so how do you tell if it’s worth it?
Some people use the 50% rule – if the appliance is through 50% of its life and costs over 50% of the cost of a new one to repair it, replace it.
For example, say you have a broken refrigerator and you’ve owned it for five years. The repair cost is $300, and the cost to buy a new refrigerator is $1,500. $300 is less than 50% of the cost of a new appliance, so it makes sense to repair it.
On the other hand, if the repair was $800, it might make more sense to buy a new one since you’re at about the halfway point of the useful life of a refrigerator.
When to Repair an Appliance
Using the 50% rule, you’d repair an appliance if it costs less than 50% of the cost of a new one IF your existing appliance is at least halfway through its useful life. That’s not set in stone, though. It’s simply a rule of thumb.
Using the above example, if the refrigerator repairs cost $300, it would make sense to repair it since that’s much less than 50% of the cost of a new appliance.
You’ll have to use your judgment when deciding what’s right. Based on your plans, you know how much you want to invest in your existing appliance.
When to Replace an Appliance
Now, using the 50% rule, you’d replace an appliance if the repair costs are more than 50% of the cost of a new one if you’ve already had the appliance for more than half of its estimated useful life.
This can get tricky because you can’t predict how long your appliance will last. However, using the provided guide above, you can estimate how long you’d get out of it.
Using the above example, if the refrigerator repair costs $900, you’d likely replace it because a new one costs only $1,500, and you’re already through half of the appliance’s life. But again, it’s all a personal decision.
Is it Repairing or Replacing an Appliance Better?
Knowing these facts, is replacing vs. repairing your home appliances better? Again, it’s a personal decision, but one you can make knowing specific facts, including the 50% rule.
So now, let’s look at the pros and cons of replacing vs. repairing your home appliances.
The Pros of Replacing an Appliance
Replacing an appliance has its benefits, including the following.
1. Take Advantage of New Features and Technology
Who doesn’t love getting a new appliance? You can take advantage of the latest technology and trends, getting the most up-to-date appliances in your home. In addition, you may get appliances that have healthier features, such as a better water filter, or fun features, such as a refrigerator with a touch screen.
2. New Appliances May be More Energy Efficient
New technology usually means more energy efficiency. So while you must fork over the money to buy a new appliance, you may save money on your future bills by using less gas, electricity, or water. This could save you hundreds of dollars throughout the appliance’s lifetime, making the purchase worth it.
3. New Warranty
If you have had your old appliance for a while, chances are the warranty has expired. When you buy a new appliance, you start over with the warranty. You may also have the option to purchase an extended warranty that supports your appliance even longer. If you’re tired of repairs later in an appliance’s lifetime, consider purchasing a warranty to protect your investment longer.
The Cons of Replacing an Appliance
Of course, there are downsides to replacing an appliance, including the following.
1. Much Higher Cost
Buying new appliances is usually much more expensive than repairing an appliance. Even if you’re in the latter half of your appliance’s lifetime, replacing it will cost more than fixing it in most cases. If you have a tight budget, replacing an appliance may not fit.
2. Hidden Costs
When looking at brand-new appliances and getting excited about the new features, there may be many hidden costs of replacing an appliance that you don’t consider.
- The new appliance may not fit perfectly where the old appliance was, causing issues. If you buy an appliance that doesn’t fit, you may need other professionals to help make it fit, especially if you need to remove cabinets or make other changes.
- If you don’t have the right connections, having professionals add the right connections could cost hundreds of dollars. For example, if you had an electric stove before and now bought a gas stove, you’d need gas connections added.
- You may need more electrical support than the area currently has. This is common for upgraded appliances with more features than your previous appliance.
3. New Appliances are Often on Backorder
Ever since the pandemic, it’s become much harder to get appliances on time, which can quickly disrupt your daily routine. For example, if it’s time for a new washing machine, but the replacement will take two weeks to arrive, you will likely have to do laundry at the local laundromat or a family member’s house, creating more effort around a typically easy task.
The Pros of Repairing an Appliance
Repairing an appliance has its benefits; here’s what you should consider:
1. Save Money
The most significant benefit of repairing an appliance is that you’ll usually save money. Even if the repair feels expensive, it’s likely much less expensive compared to the cost of replacing it. In addition, when you repair an appliance, you typically extend its life, especially if you have a professional handling the repairs. Work with a reputable professional that will be honest with you about how long the repair and new parts would extend the appliance’s life to decide.
2. Friendlier to the Environment
Replacing appliances fills up the landfills and is hard on the environment. When you repair an appliance, you keep its useful life going, keeping your old appliance out of landfills until necessary. In addition, making new appliances is hard on the environment; the lower the demand for new appliances, the better it is for the environment.
3. Less Downtime
When you repair an appliance, you typically can have it done much faster than it would take to get a new one. This could be more convenient for you and your family because you don’t have to worry about how you’ll be without a major appliance, such as your stove, refrigerator, or washer/dryer.
The Cons of Repairing an Appliance
It’s essential to consider the downsides of repairing an appliance to help you decide.
1. The Repair May Not Last Long
If the malfunction affected other parts of the appliance, they might wear down sooner than you’d hoped. While the repair may fix the initial problem, other problems may have started that you don’t realize until they break down completely. This could give you less time with the appliance than you anticipated.
2. Parts can be on Backorder
Just like new appliances can be on backorder, so can appliance parts. However, if your appliance is older or the repair is a prevalent issue with appliances, you might have to wait a while for the part, making you live without it.
Top Ways to Extend the Life of Your Appliance
Here are some tips to help.
1. Maintain your Appliances
Maintenance is the key to making your appliances last longer. Waiting until they break down and you have to decide between repairing and replacing is too late.
Instead, maintain your appliances by having them serviced annually. Some appliances, like your furnace and A/C, should be cleaned and serviced; others just need regular check-ups. During these check-ups, professionals can determine if anything is wearing down and might break soon.
By fixing the issues before they become more significant problems, you sidestep the larger issues, saving time, money, and hassle.
2. Replace Filters
For any appliances that have filters, replace them regularly. Set a date on your calendar monthly to change them. You’d be amazed at how much this simple task can help elongate the life of your appliances.
3. Check Hoses
For any appliances that have hoses, check regularly. Look at the connections to be sure they are secure, and check for leaks. At the first sign of anything wrong, call a maintenance specialist to inspect it to determine how to fix it before more issues occur.
4. Clean Coils
Any appliances with coils, such as the refrigerator or oven, clean regularly. Make it a part of your monthly deep cleaning schedule to keep them free of buildup from dust, dirt, and even food. Too much buildup can cause your appliances to stop working.
Is it Worth it to Repair an Appliance?
It’s not always worth it to repair an appliance. It depends on the repair cost, how much time the repair will buy you with the appliance, and the appliance’s age. Appliances that are too old shouldn’t be repaired, especially if there isn’t much life. However, newer appliances may be well worth repairing.
How Many Years Should an Oven Last?
On average, ovens last 13 – 23 years. Of course, it depends on how often you use them, how well you care for them, and the type/brand you purchase.
What Appliances Last the Longest?
Appliances have many different lifespans, but on average, gas ranges last the longest, with dryers and refrigerators the next longest-lasting appliances.
What are the Reasons Not to DIY Appliance Repairs?
There are many reasons not to do DIY appliance repairs, including the following:
- You might void the warranty
- If you don’t know what you’re doing, it could do more damage to the appliance
- A professional can see other problems the appliance has that could cause more issues
What Should I Repair Instead of Replace?
Any appliance that is beyond its lifespan shouldn’t be replaced. However, using the 50% rule, if an appliance repair costs less than 50% of the cost of a new one and has 50% of its average lifespan left, consider repairing it instead of replacing it.
Replacing vs. repairing your home appliances is a big decision! Of course, you probably want to do what you can to keep your appliances, but there comes a point when repairs don’t make sense.
Consider the appliance’s usefulness, the cost of the repair, and the cost of a new appliance to decide. If you decide to repair it, hire reputable professionals who can handle the repair properly, giving you extended life out of your appliance.