Appliance repair vs. replacement

Major appliances are the cornerstones of modern life. Without these trusty devices, people would be reduced to washing their clothes by hand and cooking meals over an open fire.

It's no wonder that a broken appliance can amount to a pretty big problem in most households, and the question of whether to repair or replace these devices can even create a lot of anxiety.

When it comes to repairing appliances, every device eventually reaches a point of diminishing returns. If it's cheaper to fix an appliance than replace it, the smart money is usually on the fix. However, it doesn't make sense to fix a device that is likely to break down again in the near future or become technologically obsolete.

Considerations when deciding whether to opt for appliance repair or replacement:

Age: The age of an appliance needs to be considered when deciding whether to repair or replace. Most appliances have an average life cycle and once an appliance passes that point, it’s usually a good idea to replace. Antiques and some high-end appliances are the exceptions to the rule, as they may be extremely expensive to replace.

Warranty: Determine if your appliance is under warranty, because you might be able to have it repaired at a reduced rate or free of charge. Warranties are important because replacement parts are expensive and can even cost more than the cost of purchasing a new appliance. Make sure your warranty is covered by a factory-authorized appliance repair shop.

Price: Appliance repair professionals say when the price of the repair totals more than half the cost to purchase a new appliance, you’re better off replacing the appliance.

You should consider appliance repair when:

  • The appliance is under warranty.

  • The appliance is an antique that would be difficult to replace.

  • The repairs are minor and will extend the life of the appliance for several years.

It's time to replace an appliance when:

  • The appliance is not under warranty.

  • The repairs are extensive and add up to more than half the price of the appliance's original cost.

  • The appliance is technologically obsolete.

Preventive maintenance tips

The best way to keep your appliances running smoothly is to practice preventive maintenance. Many appliances fail because they are overused or misused by the consumer.

Appliance repair professionals say homeowners should read the operational manuals that come with appliances and follow instructions for proper use and preventive maintenance.

Video: How to maintain appliances

Washing machine

  • Make sure not to overload the machine, or it could prematurely wear out.

  • Set the water level to an appropriate setting based on the amount of clothes in the washer. Failure to do so can put additional stress on the motor.

  • Check pockets before placing clothes in the washer. Many problems are caused when foreign objects become lodged within the washer.

  • Appliance repairmen suggest replacing the washer fill hose every five years.


  • Clean out the lint trap after each load to improve efficiency and reduce the chance of a fire.

  • Have the outside vent inspected annually.


  • Clean the condenser coils. When these coils become caked with dust, the fridge has to work harder which puts more stress on the unit and increases energy consumption. Use a vacuum to remove dust, pet hair and dirt.

  • Check the door seal. The fridge’s door seal is responsible for keeping food cold and maximizing efficiency. Replace the seal if needed.

Range, stove or oven

  • Instead of using the self-cleaning function, appliance repairmen recommend cleaning up spills as they occur and using drip pans to catch spills.


  • Clean your dishwasher’s filter to remove hard water deposits and debris.

  • Run the dishwasher while empty using a small amount of distilled white vinegar to remove soap buildup.

  • Check the spinning arms and make sure the spray holes are free of debris.

Garbage disposal

  • Keep the blades sharp by running cold water and sending a cup of ice down the disposal.

  • Run cold water for 10 seconds before inserting food into the disposal and for 30 seconds after each use. Cold water helps solidify grease and fat so they can be chopped up by the disposal.

Hiring an appliance repair service

There are many factors consumers need to consider before hiring an appliance repair service. Home appliances are expensive, and you want to ensure the company you hire is reputable and has the skills required to complete the fix in a timely and efficient manner.

Tips for hiring an appliance repair service:

Research potential hires. Get at least three estimates and compare the bids based on price, parts, labor and warranty. You also want to research how long the company has been in business, check reviews on Angie’s List and speak with past clients.

Inquire about costs. Expect to pay up to $100 for a typical service call. Additional parts and labor charges will apply if you hire the company for a repair, but many companies will deduct the service charge.

Check skill level. It’s important to hire a company whose employees have the training to complete the job. Ask if the employees are factory trained or certified in appliance repair.

Is the work under warranty? Check to see if the repair service guarantees its work, and determine how long. Most warranties vary from 90 days to one year.

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