Appliance Repair Costs: What’s your Limit?
When a major appliance breaks down, homeowners must decide between two options: try to repair the appliance or fix it. To save money, some homeowners look to internet how-to's for repair tips. While these sites and tutorials can be helpful, diagnosing the problem in the first place can be hard. Even homeowners who know the problem may not want to attempt a do-it-yourself repair. If the procedure is not laid out in the manufacturer's guide, it might be better to call a professional. When a professional visits, homeowners will get a quote for the cost of the repair. This is usually the decision point – is a repair good for now or is it time to replace?
Based on the cost of the repair, homeowners can apply a rule of thumb or develop their own limits. Good Housekeeping suggests that repairs that cost half as much as new appliance aren't worth it. If you have an $800 range, and the oven repair is $400, they would recommend that you purchase a new appliance instead. However, rules of thumb don't take into account the unique situation. If your refrigerator is only 5 years old when it requires a costly repair, it may be worthwhile to fix it. Refrigerators are supposed to last 10 to 18 years. If it's a newer refrigerator, repairing might be the more cost-effective option. Another factor that homeowners ought to take into account is the power draw of their older appliances. Refrigerators purchased before 1997 didn't have power-saving Energy Star efficiency labels yet. Good Housekeeping estimates that a newer Energy Star certified refrigerator could save homeowners $100 per year, depending on the area's electricity costs. For homeowners that want to save money, rules of thumb can help, but they don't take into account all of the factors.
Homeowners can also use estimates to gauge whether repair or replacement is the better choice. One way to estimate the cost of an appliance over a lifetime is to take the total costs and divide by the number of years remaining in its expected lifetime. Homeowners can compare the cost per year for both old and new appliances. If an older appliance has 5 years of life remaining and there is a $500 cost for repair, the cost per year of its remaining life would be $100 per year. (This example does ignore the initial cost of purchasing the appliance for simplicity's sake). Purchasing a new $2000 appliance that lasts for 20 years would have the same per year cost as the repair route, $100 per year. However, if a new appliance is cheaper than $2000, it may be worthwhile to upgrade. Homeowners can also add the cost per year of electricity to this question to get an even clearer picture.
There are many ways to determine whether it is better to repair or replace major appliances. Most of them rely on calculating the cost of the appliance. However, there are other factors at play, like a homeowner's desire to be environmentally friendly. Older appliances may use more energy, but repairing them also keeps them out of landfills. Homeowners must balance their priorities in order to make the best decision for them.