Serving the Lower Mainland

To replace or not to replace your broken appliance?

Buying a new washing machine doesn't quite have the same appeal as parking a brand new Tesla in the driveway. Like our homes and vehicles, home appliances are one of the biggest purchases that most people will make. It's important to know what you're doing when it comes to repairing and replacing our appliances.


We need appliances to handle our clothes, our food, our heating and cooling and other conveniences that we take for granted. Most of the time we don't notice that our appliances are doing their job, that is until an appliance fails.

When a fridge starts leaking or our stove doesn't turn on it can be very disruptive to our routine. It's tempting to just go the store and by a new machine, especially if it's an older one. That isn't always the best decision though.

"They don't make them like they used to"

The dishwasher in your parents' house may have lasted for decades, in fact, they're probably still using it. Older appliances, like many things, were made to be repaired. There are 30-year-old Maytag washing machines that still function like they were on the showroom floor, while newer ones get tossed out after 4-5 years. The Maytag repairman ads were not far from the truth.

Society has shifted in recent decades towards corporate profits and instant gratification, resulting in the "throw-away culture" of today. Just look at Apple phones for an example. Our parent lived in a world where consumers preferred durable goods that can be repaired over short-lived disposable items. Modern appliances can, of course, be repaired, and it often makes sense to do so. They just don't last as long as they used to.

When faced with the conundrum of to repair or replace it is important to make an informed decision. You might want that fancy new Samsung refrigerator with a touchscreen and wifi connectivity, but does that make sense financially? One important aspect to consider is the average lifespan of an appliance. If you are approaching the tail end of the average for your appliance it might make sense to buy a new one.

A recent study from the National Association of Home Builders gives us the following estimates for major appliances:

Those numbers can vary significantly depending on the brand and how well the appliance is maintained but it's a good starting point. Appliances are just like cars, if you don't keep up with regular maintenance they will eventually break down.

Everyone knows that they should have the oil changed on their car at regular intervals, household appliances require similar maintenance. For example, you should regularly vacuum your refrigerator coils, empty the lint from your dryer vent (including the ducts) and keep the filter clean on your dishwasher.

Even with the most meticulous maintenance schedule, an appliance will break down sooner or later. Often when you have the entire family over for Christmas. And you'll be forced to make a decision to replace or not to replace?

Here are some appliance-specific tips to help you make a decision:


Brand new: $600 - $3,000 ($1,600 average)

Average Lifespan: 14 years

Replace: If the inside of the oven is rusting or the glass on the door is cracked. If rust gets in your food, it can make you extremely sick. Door replacements are hard to find and expensive.

Repair: If burners won't turn on, the oven won't heat or self-clean, the oven door won't close, or if the cooking temperatures are inaccurate.

It's the start of a new year and time to look at improving your home. The health of your appliances is a great place to start.


Brand new: $550 - $2,200 ($1,100 average)

Average Lifespan: 13 years

Replace: If the compressor is broken. You can identify if the compressor is broken by listening to your fridge - it's the device that provides that typical low-hum noise people often associate with their refrigerator. If you can't hear that hum and the inside of your fridge and freezer are warming, it's time to replace it.

Repair: If compressor isn't the problem! Leaks, sealing, fan and coil problems, ice machine repairs, etc., are all relatively simple repairs.


Brand new: $450 - $1,750 ($750 average)

Average Lifespan: 10 years

Replace: If the washer no longer spins, you're better off purchasing a new one. The process to repair this particular problem is lengthy and the replacement parts are expensive.

Repair: If it's leaking, if water isn't properly draining, or if it's just behaving a bit oddly. Washers having these problems are typically simple and affordable to fix.


Brand new: $250 - $1,200 ($450 average)

Average Lifespan: 12 years

Replace: If you ever witness the dryer begin to smoke and it isn't due to a clogged lint trap or vent hose, get rid of it. The repair costs would be high and the appliance is a fire risk.

Repair: If it isn't drying your clothes as quickly as it should, it isn't spinning, or if it's making odd sounds or smells. Other common problems can be associated with venting, which are easy to fix.

Additional tip: Clean out your lint trap and vent hose regularly to keep your dryer healthy. A clogged dryer can cause the motor to burn out quickly.

There are other factors to take into consideration as well. Such as the cost of the repair. Once you've talked to a repair tech and received a quote you should compare the quote to the price of a new appliance. The 50 percent rule is a good starting place. The rule states that if the repair cost is more than half of the cost of a new appliance, you should consider purchasing a new one.

Electricity costs aren't going down any time soon. Consider energy efficiency when purchasing a new appliance. There is a yellow and black EnergyGuide label attached to the back of all new appliances that will help you estimate the operating cost of the machine. Energy Star-approved clothes washers and refrigerators, for example, use about 20 percent less energy than standard models. Compare the label on your current appliance vs a new one and see if it makes a difference.

When faced with a broken appliance consider the average, lifespan, the repair costs, severity of the issues and potential energy savings. Do you really need a fancy new Samsung washer/dryer set? Or could you fix the one you have and save your money for a trip to Mexico in the winter? We can help you make those decisions, our experienced technicians deal with these problems every day. Send us a message.

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