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​Repair or Replace? The Homeowner’s Appliance Dilemma

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Deciding to fix a broken large home appliance or buy a new one instead often becomes a time-consuming, stress-inducing riddle, further compounded by the fact that it could become an expensive mistake in the long run. It can be one of the toughest decisions you’ve had to make in a while, and no matter how you look at it, it often times is a complicated equation. Over the course of this article, we’ll explore these considerations in more detail, but if you’re looking for a quick answer, a good, general rule of thumb to use is:

Appliance Replace or Repair General Guideline

Do not spend more than 50% of the cost of a new product in the repair of an old one. Again, this is not a hard and fast rule, but a guideline to consider as you address the rest of the issues raised below, and how they factor in to your own personal situation.

As an upfront bonus for our time-crunched neighbors, if you’re looking for a few more quick-answer data points, we’ve compiled this chart for you. Please do keep in mind there are many factors to consider when deciding to repair an appliance or replace it–each with their own weighting factors based on the needs and situations each unique household.

So please just accept the below chart as another little shortcut tool.  It’s our way of helping you find the quick answers you’re looking for. In the rest of the article (below this chart) we’ll explore the other factors for you to consider when answering this question for yourself.  As always, we’re here to take your call if you want to explore anything in more detail.

National Average Appliance Life Expectancy, Replacement and Repair Costs Chart

Appliance Type Average Life Expectancy Average Cost to Replace Average Cost to Repair

Stove/Oven 13 – 17 years for an electric range; 15 – 19 years for a gas range $300 to $1,400+ ​$100 to $200

Washing Machine 10 – 13 years $260 to $900+ $50 to $150

Dryer 13 – 14 years ​ $240 to $900+ $100 to $400

Refrigerator ​13-17 years $500 to $2,000+ $200 to $400

​Dishwasher 9 – 10 years $240 to $700+ $150 to $250

Factors to Further Consider in your Appliance Repair or Replace Equation

​Appliances are designed by the manufacturers to last a certain amount of time, but always remember they could last longer or shorter than expected, just like any other product. But unlike most other products, your home appliances are a true financial investment in your family’s comfort and convenience, and the instant one of them starts giving you fits or stops working, it becomes a challenge to decide whether to replace it or just get a new one.  Here’s a few things to consider as you ponder your decision.

Would a New Appliance Qualify for Rebates or Tax Deductions?

We’ll start off with one you probably hadn’t thought of immediately. Replacing an older, inefficient appliance with a newer, more energy efficient model may qualify you for federal tax credits or incentives. A good place to start your research would be with the Virginia DEQ website, which offers a list of current Federal and State incentives for Virginians.

And if you’re not in a rush, don’t forget the annual three day ENERGY STAR and WaterSense Sales Tax Holiday which begins the first Friday in August of every year and ends the following Sunday.

How Much Longer Do You Think You’ll Live Where You Are Now?

If you think you’ll be selling soon, you may just want to keep it functioning until you’re gone. Most home buyers (and homeowners) find mismatched appliances unattractive. If you think you’re there for the long haul, maybe replacement gets more heavily weighted.

Do you think you’ll be remodeling at some point soon? If so, again, just hold off til then when you can plan for all new appliances as part of the remodel.  Remember, most folks don’t like mismatched appliances, so if you are going to replace one, you’re probably going to want to purchase the others in the set (washers and dryers, for instance) and that will increase your out of pocket costs accordingly.

How Much Wear and Tear Do You Put on Your Appliances?

A man buries his face in his hands when faced with three doors with questions marks behind him.  If you use almost every appliance almost every day, you can of course anticipate they might need professional repair sooner than if you only occasionally use them. Consumer Reports, for instance, shares that “Our analysis shows that washers used seven or more times per week are almost twice as likely to require repair as washers used three or fewer times per week.” Makes sense, right?

But in a weird paradox, infrequently used machines also really benefit from regularly scheduled maintenance, so be sure to have them professionally serviced in accordance with their manufacturer’s suggestions. (And be sure to do your part, too, too keep your appliances running smoothly).

Here’s one other thing to consider: if you’re a frequent user of your kitchen appliances, let’s say, and you entertain a lot and tend to have people gather there, and you just don’t like the look and feel of your current appliances, replacement is a great choice to consider.  Which brings us nicely to the next point.

How Old Is Your Appliance?

As our appliances age and get closer to their expected lifespan, major repairs become less and less cost effective.  Also, as appliance technology and energy efficiency continue to advance, we sometimes get more bang for our buck with the latest and greatest appliances.

Is This the First Time the Appliance Needs Repair?

Several repairs over the past few years are a sign that it might just be time to replace the older appliance, as the probability of yet another repair call in the future goes up. Remember the 50 percent rule we began this article with: when the cost of the repair is over half of the value of a brand-spanking-new appliance, think about replacing it.

Of course, you might not always be in a position to buy all new appliances, and that is perfectly normal and ok.  That’ why appliance repair businesses like ours exist–to help you get the most cost-effective use and longest life out of each and every appliance you own.

Is the Appliance Still Under Warranty?

Be sure to check that first. If your appliance is under warranty (many manufacturers offer a standard 12-month warranty), pursue the repairs or replacement.  Don’t forget, though, that if your appliance is still covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, you’ll need to use a factory-­authorized repair business or risk voiding the warranty.  Don’t risk voiding the warranty

The Time and Inconvenience Factor

The heartbeat of each household is different and only you can decide how much these will play into your decision.  Buying something new involves research, purchase and delivery and installation, as well as removal of the old appliance.  Repair involves setting up a time that works for you for the technician to do the required work.

That about wraps it up and we hope we helped you uncover a few other things to consider when making your appliance repair or replace decision.  If you have other factors, please let us know when we talk so we can be sure to add them to an update to this article so it can be an ever better resource for our community.

We hope this helps you understand what you need to know to make the best decision for your home, but if we can be of any assistance, know that we stand ready to help out.

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