• To Repair or Replace?

  • When the fridge goes warm or the washing machine stops spinning, you may face a crucial question: Is it worth spending time and money getting an appliance repaired, or would it be wiser to replace it?

    In most cases, calling a repair technician out can lead to an answer fairly quickly and could save you big, depending on how old your appliance is.

    The cost of repairing is usually about 20 to 30 percent of the cost of replacing.

    Generally, if a repair will cost more than half the price of a new appliance and the unit is more than six or seven years old, it might be time to buy new.

    The National Association of Home Builders provides the following estimates for the longevity of common household appliances:

    • Dishwasher: 9 years
    • Refrigerator: 13 years
    • Freezer: 11 years
    • Kitchen range/oven (gas): 15 years
    • Washing machine: 10 years
    • Dryer: 13 years

    Before you spend the money on a new appliance, there are a few questions you should answer:

    Is it really broken? The problem could be a short in the plug, a tripped circuit breaker or a bad surge-protector outlet. Check the troubleshooting section of the unit's instruction manual for the most common problems and solutions.

    Is it under warranty? If your appliance is still under warranty, a repair or replacement may be covered.

    Have you had trouble before? If your appliance has always worked well, it might be worth fixing instead of replacing with something unproven.

    What would a similar appliance cost? Check with local retailers and get pricing on new appliances, as well as hidden costs like removal, installation, disposal and taxes. Is it in your budget to buy a new unit?

    Would a new appliance have additional features? Are there features you'd like, but don't have with your existing appliance?

    What about energy savings? Find out if you'll save enough in energy costs to offset the price of a new appliance, or if repairing your unit is more cost effective. Also look into tax credits you may receive for purchasing an energy-efficient appliance.

    Still not sure? Call an expert
    A reputable technician can make recommendations about whether a repair or replacement is a better option.

    Consider other options
    Sometimes, it's tempting to replace an appliance that works, but looks outdated — but you still have options.