When to hold them and when to fold them.
When to hold them and when to fold them. It seems like a gamble sometimes, is it worth repairing? When is it no longer in your best interest to repair your appliance? These are great questions and ones that cannot be answered in the Nola Appliance Repair FAQ section. I for one say you cannot go by year, you need to go by condition of the appliance and what type it is. I have seen three year old machines rusted out due to neglect and 30 year old machines that looked showroom clean. Certain machines are worth holding onto until they die. If you have an old 90’s or 00’s Whirlpool, Kenmore or Maytag washer dryer set, then I’ll tell you now, nothing you get today will outlast those units. Nothing. Well…. Maybe a Speed Queen, those are great (though they are great because they use 1990s appliance technology). Appliances today have something working against them that these older appliances do not.
Energy Star guidelines are a government mandated efficiency rating. All new appliances have to conform to new guidelines to be more efficient. Appliances now worry more about water and power usage than actually working as promised. To many these energy guidelines are a blessing. Some have higher water bills and need the savings. In south Louisiana water, gas and power are relatively cheap. It’s not often that the savings from the machine really pay back any dividends, especially when considering repair costs. Though in many ways we have to move towards efficiency and some brands have gotten it down better than others. Still the changes made may impact whether or not it’s best to keep the appliance you have.
While an old fridge ran a few hours and then shut off and ran a heating cycle to melt accumulated ice. Newer fridges monitor door openings and closings, ambient temperature and temperature at different points in the fridge and then a logic board decides when to cycle the defrost program. The result is you save a few dollars a year on energy costs. Yet this makes repair costs more than double. Before the common failure on a fridge was simply the Timer. Usually a $30-50 part. Now it’s a control board which costs between $150-300 to replace. So while efficiency goes up, as do the costs of repairs. Well, surely with new technology, new products last longer. You would think that, but in the past appliances were based on decades of know how. The last decade has been full of firsts. You have been the test subjects for these firsts. Some of you have had no issues and some have had horrible recurring problems. Parts and electronics seem to break after 3-4 years while your last machine lasted a generation.
Newer washers get more complaints than anything, and while I will never tarnish a type of appliance or a brand here, some brands gave no thought to the customer in the design. There are washers that commonly clog up and require a technician to disassemble the unit to clear it, because the manufacturer decided against making an access door on the front. (If you do buy a front loader, make sure it has that access door) Modern top load washers are supported by suspension rods that can’t handle the weight of your old washes. (Many washers cannot wash a comforter) Dryers…..well dryers haven’t changed much to be honest. Dishwashers, you noticed you have to use Jet Dry to get your dishes clean? Units are getting away from using the high heat (and energy) heat drys of the past. Washer motors are smaller and motors have less power. More efficient, but you do lose some of what you have with old appliances.
Now the old guys aren’t perfect either, they will use more power and water, so if that is a concern than maybe repalcement is a better option. As far as longevity though even with a repair, your old machine should last as long as anything bought now. Washers and Dryers from the 80’s and 90’s and 2000's (aughts?) are great machines, if the looks don’t bother you, keep fixing them. Fridges are expensive to replace, so short of a compressor failure I would hold on to them as well. Ovens have gotten safer with age. There is a charm to the classics, but the modern oven is usually an improvement over old designs.
Sometimes we do have to condemn units, sometimes a unit cannot be safely repaired or parts are no longer made for it. In the case of the latter though, we can get many parts repaired. Other times you have machines that broke in such a way repair is impossible (frame or drum failure on washers leaks inside the walls of a fridge) that we have to condemn the unit. It's very rare that a unit can't be fixed, the biggest issues are repair costs.
If it can be repaired, is it worth repairing?
What matters most is the cost to repair divided by the cost of a new machine. Let’s say you have a dishwasher and the motor has bit the dust. Some models the motor is around $200, the labor to install would be around $100. So a $300 repair, let’s not forget tax, so at 10% that’s another $30. So $330 for a dishwasher. Then let’s say there is a replacement at Drye Supply for $400. Well 300/400 or 75%. So repair is 75% of replacement. No way is it worth that. Generally the cut-off for repair should be at a range you feel comfortable with. I usually say around 50%. If the repair costs more than half of what a new replacement would cost, then maybe it’s best to replace There are exceptions. Maytag, Kenmore and Whirlpool washers and dryers from between 1980 to 2006 need to be held on to. They are the peak of washer and dryer design and will last a lifetime. On the other end of the spectrum, let’s say your oven igniter went out. $90 part, $100 labor, $190 total plus tax. A new stainless steel name brand oven is about $800-1000. So lets say $190/800, well 24%. So you could repair that oven for less than a quarter of replacement price. Then that is always worth doing.
So, while there is an almost set level at which the repair is not worth it, in the end that decision is totally up to you. We will always give our honest opinion and sometimes it’s not the one that makes us the most money. It’s the one that is right for you. Luckily our service fee at Nola Appliance Repair starts at a low $59 and can be discounted further when booked online. So if you are on the fence, know that at worst $59 is all it would cost to find out if you should keep or replace the unit.
(these you want to hang onto :-)