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  • Writer's pictureMike Roberts

Broken Appliance: Should You Repair or Replace?

Your seven-year-old refrigerator is on the fritz. Should you spring for a repair or bite the bullet to replace the broken appliance? Fortunately, there’s a simple rule of thumb that can help you make the decision. Here’s our guide to when to repair or replace appliances.

Is it really broken?

Before you spend money to repair or replace appliances, be sure there’s actually a problem. Dirty filters, tripped circuit breakers, even unplugged cords can make an appliance quit working when it’s actually fine. So do a bit of troubleshooting before you go further.

When to repair and when to replace

If your appliance is really broken, experts recommend you determine the average useful life of the machine. Then, make the following calculation: If the appliance is more than 50 percent through its lifespan and a repair would cost more than 50 percent of the price of a replacement, it’s best to buy a new one.

Repair costs vary throughout the country. Angi advises that appliance repairs generally run around $100 to $250, but this figure does not include parts.

When considering replacement costs, don’t forget to factor in installation costs.

How long will your appliances last?

Estimates vary, but in general, here’s how long you can expect your appliances to last.

  • Dishwashers: Around 10 years.

  • Disposals: 12 years.

  • Clothes Washers: 5 to 15 years.

  • Clothes Dryers: 13 years.

  • Microwaves: 9 years.

  • Electric ranges: 13 to 15 years.

  • Gas ranges: 14 to 17 years.

  • Refrigerators: Around 13 years.

DIY repairs for a broken appliance

If you determine it makes sense to repair the appliance, you might be able to do the work yourself. Consider your skill level and the complexity of the project. Consult your owner’s manual as well as YouTube videos for guidance. (If you’ve misplaced the paper manual, you can generally find appliance manuals online by searching “manual” along with the appliance’s brand name and its model number.) Be sure to cut the electric power to the appliance before beginning work.

Other considerations

Even if a repair will be inexpensive, you might want to replace an appliance that’s at the end of its useful life. That way you’ll avoid having your refrigerator die just as party guests arrive. The new appliance will also probably run more efficiently than the one it replaces.

Keep in mind that if you choose to replace an appliance, the new one may not fit in the location of the previous model. If that’s the case, there may be an additional expense to adapt your space.

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