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Repair or replace? Here's what you should do if a major appliance breaks down


The saying "they just don't make them like they used to" seems especially true of some major appliances these days.

Some washers, fridges and stoves used to last for decades without issues because they had fewer moving parts. But now, many modern appliances are more complicated with computer chips, sensors and circuit boards and could be more prone to breaking down.

The Prieto family was relieved to have their washer last 14 years before it needed a major repair.

“I was afraid if I spent the time and money to repair it, it would be out again soon. Frankly, I’m surprised it lasted this long,” said Josiah Prieto. “With a toddler, we do at least one load of laundry a day.”

Prieto decided against going ahead with the repair and instead went to a home improvement store to buy a new one.

When trying to decide if you should repair or replace a major home appliance, consider the diagnosis and price to fix the machine, how old the appliance is, the original price when purchased and how much the appliance is being used.

“With a refrigerator, you're getting the same usage in a typical household most days. They’re on all the time,” said Paul Hope with Consumer Reports. “With a washer, if you live in a family with a lot of children at home, you're doing a ton of laundry, multiple loads a day. In some cases even if the washer is only a few years old, it might make more sense to replace it because it’s had that much wear-and-tear on it.”

According to Consumer Reports, if you paid $1,000 for your washer three years ago and only do a few loads a week, a repair might be the better financial choice.

Before calling a repair service, go online to see if there are any recalls on your machine or if there are any simple fixes like a clogged filter or kinked hose and check if the appliance is still under warranty.

A front-loading washing machine is seen in this file image. (Pexels)

If you decide to search for a repair company, don't take the first one that pops up in a Google search as they may not be your best choice.

Consumer Reports recommends going directly to the manufacturer's website where you'll find authorized repair services in your area.

“If you go with an authorized dealer you have a little bit of a backup, because they back up their work and they are more likely to get the parts first," said Keith Flamer, an appliance expert with Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports also has a formula that can help you decide if you should repair or replace an appliance: If the repair will cost more than half the price of a new appliance, then it's probably time to replace it.

For most appliances, the average lifespan is between eight and 15 years but you might be able to make them last longer by keeping them clean, not overloading them and checking the owner's manual to see if they need new filters or other maintenance. Top Stories

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