Should I Repair or Replace My Broken Appliance?

Any time an appliance fails you are faced with a dilemma: Should I purchase a new machine or should I have it repaired? Many people choose to throw away a good appliance when it would be more appropriate to fix it. However, in some cases repairing your appliance is not the best option, so it is important to know the factors involved with this decision. When in doubt, an evaluation by a service professional is advisable, as problems that seem serious can be caused by very minor issues such as bad fuses or settings adjusted to the wrong values.
The basic rule of thumb in deciding whether to replace or repair an appliance is the Fifty Percent Rule. This rule states that an appliance should typically be serviced if the repair cost is less than half the price of purchasing a new machine. But this consideration alone is not enough to make your choice.

It is also worthwhile to bear in mind the age of the appliance. Every type of appliance has an Average Useful Life value. This number represents the number of years that an appliance can be expected to last. Most appliances produced today are projected to operate for over ten years. When an appliance is near the end of its Average Useful Life it may be best to replace it. However, age can also be described in terms of how many times an appliance is used, so a machine that is operated less often will endure longer. Appliances that are used properly and are well cared for also have fewer problems. In fact, an older appliance can be better than a new one if it is in good condition. Another important matter to bear in mind is that if you are about to move from your house in upcoming years, you might as well have the appliance serviced rather than replacing it with something that you will not get much use of.

Expensive appliances are far more economical to fix than cheap appliances. Clearly if you have just invested a great deal of money into your machine, replacing it is not something that you should take lightly. So any major appliances, especially high-end models, should be serviced when things go wrong. Refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, garbage disposals, ovens, ranges, microwaves, washers, and dryers should all be fixed. But small devices like mixers and toasters are almost always thrown away when they break.

If an appliance has a long history of malfunctioning then maybe it should be replaced with something more reliable. An appliance that is breaking down often may have many faults that make the appliance weak as a whole. And then there are just some products that simply do not look right in your house, or are hard to use, or are disappointing for whatever reason. If you are unhappy with your appliance, why spend money repairing it?

On the other hand, if you like the way your appliance works, are happy with it, and it has been reliable, why not repair it? It is usually more convenient to have an appliance serviced than replaced. Buying the right appliance requires considerable research and visits to an appliance stores. Then you must haul it into your home and set it up, which can be quite a disruption. Or you can pay a delivery charge to have it shipped. Furthermore, many appliances need be professionally installed at added expense. You also have to get rid of your old appliance, adding charges for tasks such as transporting it away and refrigerant recovery. Not every newly purchased appliance will fit well into the space allotted to it, and this is an especially big problem when the machine is built into your cabinetry or counters. Sometimes machines that seem to have the right measurements or are of a standard size will still be an awkward fit. You may have to commit to a costly carpentry job to replace the appliance. Also, you may need to hire a plumber or electrician to deal with power, water, or gas connection mismatches.

But it is not all bad to purchase a new appliance because newer models are generally more energy-efficient. New dishwashers and clothes washers use less water than previous versions because of new government standards. The latest clothes dryers have moisture sensors that turn the machine off when it is done. Many new appliances conform to the Energy Star benchmark that promises a higher standard of energy efficiency.

Although the energy-efficiency of newer appliances is beneficial to the environment, fixing your appliance is also environmentally friendly. This is because appliance repair prevents all of the pollution created in the manufacture of new appliances, as well as the destruction of habitats that result in the mining of materials used to build these machines. Also, sending old appliances to the landfill introduces chemicals like flame retardants and heavy metals including lead, arsenic, and mercury into the groundwater. When refrigerators are sent to landfills all of the refrigerant is supposed to be collected, but sometimes this task is neglected. Luckily, much of the environmental damage of replacement can be mitigated by taking your appliance to a recycling center rather than throwing it away.

Besides calling a service professional and purchasing a new product, the only other way to deal with a broken appliance is trying to fix it yourself. However, be very careful with this. Often people end up doing more harm to their machine than good. Also, many warranties are cancelled if an unprofessional repair is attempted. Most importantly, it can be very hazardous to try to mend an appliance if you do not know what you are doing. For example, capacitors in a microwave oven can sustain deadly voltages even when they are not plugged in! Only fix an appliance if you can do it safely. If you need any help purchasing parts or finding out exactly what you need, just call Dave Smith Appliance Services, as we have an appliance parts store as well as a certified service department. Or visit our website at

There are always many things to consider when deciding whether to repair a broken appliance or to replace it, and hopefully this article can provide some guidance when the time comes. However, until then, you can be proactive to extend the life of your appliances. Periodically clean the condenser coils on your refrigerator. Take good care of the seal around your refrigerator door. Use proper water lines for your ice maker. Use the right detergents for your clothes washer and for your dishwasher. Have the inside of your clothes dryer professionally cleaned every few years, and clean out the venting behind your dryer every year. By taking extra good care of your appliances, you will not have to make this difficult decision quite so often. Good luck!