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Kitchens contain some of the most vital appliances to your everyday needs. When something breaks or goes wrong, it can upset the rhythm of your routine. Rather than be troubled by inconvenience, you may want to rush out and buy a replacement, or call the first contractor available to come fix it.
There are times when it is better to make small replacements, and other times when it is better to replace the entire appliance. The decision to replace or repair an appliance is a multifaceted issue depending on the exact malfunction, the up-front and recurring costs of either option, and the expected life span of the appliance.
So one of your appliances has stopped working. Do you call a repair technician straight in to diagnose the problem, or do you try to figure it out yourself? The problem could actually be very simple, so it is best to do some preliminary research before making a service call.
Spend a few minutes looking through the appliance manual (or other reputable guides) to see if it is something you can diagnose, if not repair yourself. If you cannot easily determine the problem, call a technician to perform diagnostics.
Sometimes the cost of a repair is marginal, while other times it is nearly as much as a new appliance. Do not be fooled into thinking that the severity of a malfunction is proportional to the cost of repairing it. Some simple things, like a loose dishwasher drive belt, can completely impair the functioning of the appliance.
However, you can usually purchase them for less than 20 dollars, and a contractor or handy person can replace one within an hour. A refrigerator compressor, however, may simply be noisier and less efficient as it gets old. The cost of the parts and labor for replacing a compressor can easily exceed more than half the price of a new refrigerator.
Some appliances, namely refrigerators, offer significant energy savings over older models. If you are on the fence about whether it is worth replacing an appliance, consider the effect of lower utility bills. According to Energy Star’s Refrigerator Retirement Calculator, a typical 20-cubic-foot refrigerator with top-freezer bought in 1990 costs $143 per year to operate. A similar Energy Star refrigerator today only costs $45 per year. Likewise, Energy Star qualified dishwashers use 31 percent less energy and 33 percent less water than conventional models.
Appliance Life Span
Manufacturers design all appliance parts to last a certain length of time. Some will last indefinitely, while others could fail after a few years. You should not expect most appliances to last as complete systems for more than 20 years. If you are thinking about replacing an expensive part, consider whether the appliance itself is approaching the 20-year turnover point.
Aside from cost and energy considerations, new appliances may provide additional benefits over older models. Does your refrigerator have appropriate storage space and a convenient layout? If a more spacious model can replace the need for an auxiliary fridge, it may be worth upgrading. Does your dishwasher clean effectively and hold sufficiently large loads? A better-functioning dishwasher can save time and energy. Similar benefits may exist for new microwaves, ovens and ranges.