Sorting out the best Choice when an Appliance Breaks Down

Standard TV & Appliance / January 20, 2015

The breakdown of a major appliance brings with it the inconvenience of not being able to use the machine as well as the cost of getting it operational again, along with the goal of getting things back to normal as quickly as possible with the lowest cash outlay. In situations such as these, getting someone out to do a repair is usually considered as the first option, but it may not be the most cost-effective choice depending on a number of variables, including;

  • The number of years that the appliance has been in use – The usable lives of different major appliances can vary by as much as 10 years, with freezers typically lasting 20 years or more while dishwashers average 10 to 12 years of service. Determining where the needed repair has occurred on the appliance’s timeline can give you a general idea of how much longer the appliance will remain in service once the repair is completed. If you have an appliance that needs a repair close to the end of its expected usable life, you may be fixing something that going to need more repairs over the short term.
  • The nature of the repair – In most cases, mechanical failures tend to indicate that an appliance is approaching the end of its usable life. These types of failures include refrigerator compressors that can no longer keep temperatures in the refrigerator and freezer compartments at their settings and washing machine motors that can no longer turn the basin. In these situations, buying a replacement will likely be the most cost effective choice. On the other hand, repairing non-mechanical issues such as the seal around the door on an oven or a chipped rack in a dishwasher makes sense in most cases.
  • The amount the repair is going to cost – The cost of a repair will likely be directly related to the gravity of the appliance’s problem. On a refrigerator, the breakdown of the motor/compressor will be the most expensive repair, while the motor on a washing machine will cost the most on that appliance. For these types of repairs, the rule of thumb is that a repair on an appliance that is past its half-life that costs more than half of a new replacement calls for the purchase of a new machine. For appliances that have already reached their expected usable life, any repair should be viewed as an indication that the purchase of a new appliance should be considered.

Repairing a broken down appliance may be attractive as lost-cost option, but those savings can evaporate quickly if subsequent repairs are needed. Before opting for a repair, consider the age of the appliance, the nature of the problem, and the cost of the repair, which may indicate that buying a new replacement will be the most cost-effective course of action.


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