Should You Repair or Replace Your Broken Appliance?

Should You Repair or Replace Your Broken Appliance?

Taryn Williford
Jan 20, 2011

Your trusted kitchen range has been with you through thick and thin, broiled and burnt. So when it finally comes close to kicking the bucket, you have to decide whether to revive it with a costly repair or send your range to appliance heaven. Here's four questions that will guide you through that tough dilemma and help you make the right (and in the long-term, the cheapest) decision.

Living in an old house has it's ups and downs. On one hand, you've got a home with great character and loads of history. But at the same time, you're probably putting up with some really antique appliances.

When any of those household appliances—from the clothes dryer to your water heater—come down with a serious case of the sniffles, you have to decide whether to shell out cash for a costly repair or kick it to the curb and buy new.

Before you make a choice, ask yourself these 4 questions to come out on top with the most cash:

1. Is it still under warranty?
If it's still under a manufacturer's warranty, this is an easy one. Just contact the company and arrange to have your broken gear serviced. If it's out of warranty, look into one of these two ways to extend your warranty for free. If you can get somebody else to cover repair costs, this is definitely the way to go.

2. How old is it?
If it's out of warranty, you're going to next want to consider the life span of your appliance. If it's near the end of it's useful life, it's always almost better to replace, rather than repair, the broken tech. If you're not sure how long your trash compactor (or anything else) is supposed to last, check out this guide to the life expectancy of your home tech from the National Association of Home Builders.

If your appliance is still in the prime of it's useful life, you'll want to then move on to the next questions which consider the cost of repairs.

3. Can You fix it yourself?
Most of the cost of a professional repair is labor. If the problem is something you can reasonably fix yourself, price out what the total cost of replacement parts would cost you. Then you'll want to consider...

4. Does it meet the 50 percent rule?
The 50 percent rule is this: If the cost of the repair is more than half the price of a replacement appliance, the best idea is to shell out for a new one. If it's broken now, it will probably break again; so for the price of two repairs, you can have a newer, more reliable machine.

So go get a quote from a professional (or consider your fix-it-yourself price from question three) and compare it against the price of a newer appliance. It's also smart to consider any savings you'll earn from buying a more efficient Energy-Star-rated machine.

(Images: Flickr member Curtis Gregory Perry licensed for use under Creative Commons, Flickr member Jessie Lynn McMains licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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