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When Appliances Break: Toss & Replace or Repair?

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Shopping for new electronics and home appliances can be fun, but when faced with the emergency of replacing a broken item – be it a television set or a dishwasher – that shopping “high” can be quickly cut off by the size of the price tag (or worse, your credit card bill a month later).

Add to the financial pinch the hassle of getting rid of your old, broken stuff, and it’s no wonder many of us actually dread shopping for these big-ticket items — and end up calling in a repairman in hopes of saving hours of stress and hundreds of dollars.

Given that your average household appliance has a lifespan of around 10 years, there are times when replacing it becomes not only necessary, but financially expedient. This becomes especially true in the case of devices where technology has drastically improved their energy efficiency.

So how do you know which appliances and electronics to toss and replace, and which to take to the repair shop? Here are some quick answers to your major appliance questions:

1. Refrigerator – Repair or Buy New?

If you’re dealing with a fridge that doesn’t work well or is on the older side, you’re probably paying a lot electricity-wise. A new Energy Star rated refrigerator could save you nearly 40% on your energy bills.

Verdict: Toss and upgrade to a new, energy-efficient model refrigerator.

2. Dryer – Repair or Buy New?

There are ways to dry clothes other than using a standard clothes dryer, but let’s be practical. If you live in a colder climate or in the city, the odds of hanging your clothes outside to dry are slim to none. The good news is that you can repair most newer, dryers. On average, repairing your dryer will cost less than attempting to replace it.

Verdict: Repair and maintain your dryer.

3. Washing Machine – Repair or Buy New?

Top-loader washing machines tend to come with costly repairs. This is mainly due to the fact that these machines are older. If you have a top-loader, you’ll want to replace it. If you have a newer machine, try to determine the gravity of the repair at hand. Replacing a broken hose is one thing while fixing a bearing problem is another.

Verdict: Depends on model and year of your washing machine.

4. Freezer – Repair or Buy New?

Unless your freezer is more than 19 years old, you can repair most freezer problems without breaking the bank. Again, a freezer that is not energy efficient will cost more when it comes to your energy bill, so keep this in mind when deciding to repair or replace it.

Verdict: Repair your freezer. Probably.

5. Stove – Repair or Buy New?

Stoves are expensive. Unfortunately, most stoves today are of the digital sort, and extra electronics means extra break-downs. Most high-end stoves don’t come with a lot of digital buttons, and these stoves are less-expensive to repair than stoves that are equipped with computers (something to keep in mind while shopping). If your stove needs a new computer or some electrical work, ask for an estimate before you opt for a full repair.

Verdict: Repair and maintain your stove.

6. Television – Repair or Buy New?

Televisions today are truly heartbreaking. That 40-inch plasma that you bought a few years ago may already be showing signs of wear and tear. Sadly, today’s televisions weren’t built to last for many years. If you own a newer television that’s “bleeding” or has a permanent “burn” you’ll have to upgrade. Looking to repair an older tube TV? You’re out of luck, too. Tube TV parts have become hard to find, which means that repairing these dinosaurs is costly.

Verdict: Replace your TV.

Some major appliances were built to last (think of your Mom’s Maytag washer), while others were built to last until the next model (think your brother’s big screen TV). Keep quality in mind next time you’re shopping for a major appliance. What you spend now may well save you money years down the road when you don’t have to replace it as soon.

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