Repair or Replace Your Old Appliance? Things to Consider
All of the appliances in your home will inevitably experience malfunctions that make them work less effectively or stop working entirely. When these problems arise, you face a dilemma that has long confronted homeowners throughout the nation: Should you get the appliance in question repaired or just go ahead and replace it with a new model?
Knowledge of several important factors will help guide your choices in these situations and steer you toward the best use of your hard-earned income.
The Extent of the Damage
On average, it will cost you roughly $250 to $300 to repair a major appliance. However, the actual cost can fall far below or above this range. The main factor in the amount you must pay is the severity of the damage in the affected appliance. If your device has minor problems, you can expect to receive an effective repair that won’t overly tax your budget.
However, major problems in your appliance can drastically increase your cash outlay. When repair costs substantially exceed the upper end of the normal range, your chances of opting for a replacement should rise accordingly.
The Specific Type of Problem with Your Appliance
The presence of certain types of problems steeply increases the odds that an appliance replacement will make more sense than an appliance repair.
For example, there’s no real cost-effective option for repairing a clothes dryer that produces smoke while operating. Other appliance-specific problems that probably make replacement a preferred option include:
- Rust on the walls of an oven
- A clothes washer that doesn’t spin, and
- A refrigerator with a broken compressor
The Age of Your Appliance
The age of your malfunctioning appliance can play a major role in your choice of repair or replacement. Generally speaking, you should give more consideration to replacement if your appliance is nearing the end of its expected lifespan. So, exactly how long is that lifespan? That depends on the type of appliance in question, as well as the quality of its construction and your typical patterns of maintenance and usage.
On average, a residential refrigerator will last for roughly 13 years. Additional common appliance lifespans include:
- Standalone freezers – approximately 11 years
- Clothes washers – approximately 10 years
- Clothes dryers – approximately 13 years
- Dishwashers – approximately 9 years
- Gas ranges – approximately 15 years
- Electric ranges – approximately 13 years
The 50% Rule
The 50% rule is a rough industry guideline that will help you decide between repair and replacement in most situations. The rule takes two key factors into account: the cost of a quality repair job and the age of your appliance in relation to its expected lifespan. If the repair cost exceeds half of the appliance replacement cost, the 50% rule tips in favor of replacement.
In addition, the rule identifies replacement as the clear go-to option if your appliance is also more than halfway through its typical operating life. When calculating repair costs, don’t forget to consider the possibility of significant service charges added to your bill by your provider.
The Role of Energy Efficiency
If you have older appliances installed in your home, they can add potentially avoidable costs to your monthly utility bill, even when running at peak efficiency. When serious malfunctions occur, you may want to take the opportunity to install a newer, more energy-efficient option instead of spending money on a repair.
However, it doesn’t always make sense to upgrade, even when an energy-efficient appliance helps you shave significant amounts from your utility bill. If your relatively inefficient current appliance still has years of good use left in it, you may want to hold onto it for the time being. That’s true because the amount you save in energy costs with a replacement device may not offset the amount it will cost you to upgrade.
To make a financially sound choice when deciding what to do with built-in appliances (or any free-standing appliances you don’t intend to move), you must also factor in the amount of time you plan to stay in your home. As a general rule, replacement of an inefficient built-in makes more sense if you plan to stay put for a decade or longer.
On the other hand, if your plans include moving before you reach the 10-year marker, you might do better to repair a malfunctioning appliance and leave any replacement decisions to your home’s future owners.
The Role of Appliance Functionality
The last several decades have seen a tremendous increase in the functionality of many major household appliances. This means that you may want to consider basic usefulness when deciding whether to repair or replace a malfunctioning older device. If newer options now available on the market come with features that will make your daily life much easier, an upgrade can provide you with important tangible benefits. However, if no such features exist (or you simply wouldn’t use them if they do exist), you probably won’t feel any extra enticement to replace instead of repair.
A Final Consideration
This may seem like an unnecessary thing to say, but before you go through the mental strain of deciding between a repair and a replacement, make sure that your appliance actually has a significant problem. Every year, homeowners needlessly call for help before taking this basic step. Things that can lead you to make such a call to your local service provider include:
- Tripped circuit breakers
- An appliance that’s not plugged in
- Clogged filters or vents, and
- An uneven surface (floor, etc.) that prevents an appliance from running properly
It’s a good idea to check for these issues before you do anything else. In the event that you do have a genuine problem, you’ll benefit greatly from the advice of experts who can help you determine which situations call for an appliance repair rather than an appliance replacement.
In greater Los Angeles, your number one resource for expert assistance is West Coast Chief Repair. With decades in the business and a proven commitment to quality, cost-effectiveness and ethical behavior, we have what it takes to assess every situation and help you make a choice that supports the smooth, efficient function of your household. And whether you choose to repair or replace, you can rely on our comprehensive services, frequent discounts, and generous appliance warranties. Call for assistance today.