Repairman looking at washing machine to give woman an estimate to repair

Should you Repair or Replace your Broken Appliances?

You’re worried the washing machine may be on its last spin cycle. It makes a horrible screeching sound and needs a lot of coaxing to make it all the way through a full cycle. Should you spend $319 to fix this inefficient appliance or replace it with a $999 new model that will use less electricity and water? Deciding whether to repair or replace your broken appliance—especially when trying to discover which option will save money in the long run—can be challenging.


Here are some basic guidelines and suggestions to help you decide, based on costs for replacement and repairs and the advantages of new models.

If you cannot pay cash for the new replacement

You should get it repaired to buy yourself time to save up for the replacement. Even if the repairs will only keep this appliance going for a year or two, you’re far better off repairing and then saving for a new machine than to charge it and pay double-digit interest for the next three to five years.

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If you have some cash but not enough

Consider replacing your clunker with a late-model, lightly used quality machine. Check sites like for late-model, well-cared-for used appliances. Spread the word to friends and neighbors. People are constantly relocating – creating situations where they need to sell perfectly lovely, near-new appliances.

If the appliance is eight years or older

Once an appliance becomes elderly, usually it makes sense to buy a new one. However, if you have a high-end, older appliance you may want to repair it provided it is not repair-prone.

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If repairs are really expensive

If the repair bill is more than half the price of a new product, you should consider buying new rather than repairing it. But, here again, the deciding factor will be whether or not you will have to go into debt to buy new.

If the appliance is under warranty

Even if repairs will be only partially covered by a warranty or service contract, repairing is the way you should go. If it’s under warranty, call a factory-authorized repair shop. If not, an independent contractor is likely to offer better service at a lower cost.

The costs for diagnosing problems and making repairs on home appliances have gone up considerably in the last few years. This has made replacements with new models more common.

A word to the wise

Home appliances have built-in obsolescence. By design, life expectancy has gone down slowly over the years. Take refrigerators for example. They used to last for 30 years or longer. They were specifically designed to do that! These days you’ll be lucky to get 10 years. And, that’s with excellent maintenance and timely repairs.

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Anticipate so you are not caught off guard

Anticipate costs to repair and eventually replace major home appliances. Create a special account designated just for future appliance replacement. Setting aside a small amount of money every month will give you cash options to make wise decisions when the time comes.

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  1. Cally says:

    “Home appliances have built-in obsolescence. By design, life expectancy has gone down slowly over the years. Take refrigerators for example. They used to last for 30 years or longer. They were specifically designed to do that! These days you’ll be lucky to get 10 years and that’s with excellent maintenance and timely repairs.”
    What happened to craftsmanship!? This applies to printers and vacuums… just about anything! I have a spare Whirlpool refrigerator that works fine and is 30+years old, that’s what i expect out of appliances and i’m disappointed when it doesn’t happen. 🙁

  2. Kay Jones says:

    I do a bit of research before doing anything. First I determine how much I have on hand to spend. I will check all sources for used appliances. Then I check sales at places like Lowes and Home Depot since I have credit cards there. They often have sales on floor samples and with the card I can do so many months same as cash. I know you have written columns on the downside of these offers, but I have used them for years with great success. I am very careful to take the amount and divide by less than the time frame and payoff. By doing this I have made some good deals on appliance replacement. Once I had $400 to replace a refrigerator. I didn’t find a used one in that price range, but Home Depot had one that was on sale for $900 new. I bought that with the 6 months same as cash. I had the $400 ready and just added the difference each month and paid it off in 5 months.

  3. Patricia Goff says:

    We repair our appliances if possible. Lowes has helped us along with youtube videos. My brother also knows where a retired appliance repairman lives and Lowes told him to stop by and ask him. He has been very helpful. If we do have to buy another one we have bought them from Habitat for Humanity Restore stores or on freecycle. the older ones are made to last and I love them. My fridge that I got used (about 10 years old) just died and we had it almost 20 years so the 30 year mark is very accurate. I bought a new dryer once and it broke down a week after the warranty expired (so 3 years old) and the manufactuer told me that they aren’t made to last forever. I quit buying new. I don’t want to pay for a new one every three years. I bought a used dryer for $10 and it lasted me 12 years but we also don’t use it constantly. If the weather is nice we hang things on the line outside or on the deck on a foldable clothes line.

  4. Miriam says:

    There are a ton of videos and articles that can show you how to fix many appliances. Sometimes the video is of your own model, othertimes you have to adjust based on your model. I (70 yr woman) have fixed a dryer and kept it working for another year. ( it was 12 years old). I’ve also completely saved the cost of a repair by following the steps and discovering the entry to the pump on the washing machine was plugged. DIY most often pays big bucks.

    • tboofy says:

      My brother (father of 9) routinely learns how to fix or build things from YouTube. I’ve been amazed at what he’s been able to accomplish!

  5. Gina Stevens says:

    When I sold my house, I left all my new appliances. I hated all of them. I did research before I bought them and none had the ease of use as my old ones and none worked as well.

  6. Jan Schal says:

    My husband has saved us hundreds of dollars by using YouTube videos to make repairs to our lawn mower, snow blower, and dryer. If you are at all handy, it pays to see if you can DIY before paying for repairs or a new item/appliance.

  7. PatriotPeg says:

    i have a GE fridge , which is still working well, however the gasket is wearing away and torn. replacement gasket, less than $100. watch ya think?

  8. crabbyoldlady says:

    Remember the lonely Maytag repairman? It’s true! When I bought my house, the washer was an older one, but they said it worked perfectly. 20 years later, it still does. I would love a new washer with fancy cycles and no agitator, but why bother when I have a Maytag?

  9. Terri L Dates says:

    A long time ago I was told to buy the cheapest washer & dryer that Sears sells. They’ve never needed repair, and they are still working in the old house when I move into a new one after 10 years or so. It’s been 9 years since I bought the last set, so I am not sure if Sears quality is the same.

  10. Carol Rowe says:

    I used to have a washing machine that had a wonderful spindle and finished a load of clothes in 30 minutes and they were clean . Now I have an energy efficient washer that takes up to an hour and a half and sometimes I have to run it twice just to get my clothes clean. The only reason I switched to the new one was that my husband built me a new home and we left all the old appliances in the old house , the worst decision I ever made.

    • Patricia Goff says:

      I so agree. I grew up with the front loaders in Germany (that is all they sell) and I hate them. I refuse to use them. I like my clothes getting done fast. I don’t want to have to wait an hour for a load like we do at my mothers when I visit her. We keep going up and down the stairs to check on the laundry. Pain…..

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