To Fix or Not to Fix!

I have a two-part question. However, let me give you some background so that you have some context. I am in college in Bend, Oregon and so I have very limited resources and a small budget. I work part time so whatever I decide to do has to be penny conscious. Currently, the appliances at my apartment have organized a strike and have quit working! I don’t know if I should opt for repair, or buy some new appliances. I suppose I’d have to finance since I have limited resources available. Any advice on how to decide if I should repair or replace?

I am sorry to hear that. I guess the saying, “when it rains, it pours,” applies well to your situation. It may just be a coincidence, or it may be that the appliances were all bought right around the same time and are coming to their end of life. The timing is terrible, but it happens. Regardless, let’s address your options so that you can decide how you want to continue.

Life Expectancy

In electronics, as in life, all must end. Although the life expectancy of appliances can vary depending on the brand, model, and quality of the respective product, each type has an average number of years people can expect it to last. According to Consumer Reports, refrigerators typically last about 13 years while washing machines last around ten years. Maintenance on said machines will also affect how long it may last. The most common reason that appliances may last less than the expected number of years is a lack of maintenance. Just as you maintain a car or other valuable assets, appliance maintenance is also a requirement. For example, you should vacuum and clean refrigerator coils regularly. This may even extend the life expectancy of the appliance.

Determining the Problem

Determining whether an appliance is worth fixing or not often depends on what is wrong with the machine. Some parts are just too expensive to justify a repair as the cost of the part in question is so high that buying a new unit becomes a better choice. For example, if a refrigerator’s compressor stops functioning, a better possibility is to replace the unit. The reason is that a compressor can cost around $400 - $500. You can make a reasonable decision by knowing what to look for and how much the repair will cost. However, sometimes this is simply not possible as we do not know what to look for. This is when it is wise to consult an expert.

Contacting a Local Expert

To save time and money, it is best to consult someone that is knowledgeable on the subject. If you have friends or family that work with appliances or are savvy with these types of machines, then that will be your best choice. Otherwise, look for companies in your local area, such as appliance repair Bend, that will give a free onsite visit and provide a free estimate of the repair. Make sure that the visit is free, and that the estimate comes without any obligation to perform the repairs. Also, make sure to ask some key questions that will give some insight into the life left on the appliance once repaired. Ask outright if the repair is worth performing and what the overall condition of the machine is. Ask how long you should expect the machine to last with the repair. Ask if there are any other issues with the machine or if another part looks to fail soon. Remember, they are the experts; however, it is your job to ask questions and obtain clarity about the appliances and their current state.

Making the Decision

Now that you have the repair estimates, it is time to decide. According to U.S. News, if your appliance has a long life expectancy, a repair may be warranted. Typically, a repair will cost about 30% of the total value of the appliance. Therefore, review the life expectancy of the appliance and decide if it is too close to the end of life expectancy to make such an investment worth your while. If the appliance still has plenty of life left, then it is worth repairing. However, if the repair costs more than 50% of what it would cost to replace, the best choice is to buy a new one. Another important consideration is the cost savings of buying a new appliance that is more energy efficient than your current one. If your current appliance is too old, then there may be some hidden costs in electricity. Make sure to factor that in.

Preventing Future Problems

Regardless of which route you take, maintenance should play a part of your routine moving forward. Items like dryers need to have exhaust vents checked and cleaned once a year while you should remove dust and debris should from any appliance owned. You should use dishwashers on a regular basis, range hoods should remain clean and/or replaced, when necessary, the refrigerator water filter must be replaced regularly, and microwaves must be cleaned periodically. Inspect all appliances that have hoses. Wash the hoses and, if the hoses have cracks, replace them at once. There are simple do it yourself steps that you can take to extend the life of appliances. It is important to follow maintenance and even develop a maintenance schedule as that can prevent product failures.

Final Thoughts

Whether you choose to repair your current appliances or opt for buying new ones, look toward making those appliances last as long as possible. Do not skip on basic care and remember that the minute details of maintenance can have a positive effect on the durability of your appliances. Investing a little bit of time and money in keeping the appliances clean and in working order can end up saving you a lot of money and heartache later. Protect your investment.

“Remain calm in every situation, because peace equals power.” - Joyce Meyer


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