Repair vs. Replace: That's the Big Appliance Question

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Fixing things? It's part of owning a home. But when is an appliance worth it to service, and when should you start with a new model? Here are some suggestions to help you make that decision.


You can perform regular maintenance, clean your appliance rigorously, and follow every to-do and recommendation in the owner's manual, but eventually, that appliance will wear out. If your refrigerator is rattling, your oven won't turn on, or your dishwasher isn't cleaning as well as it once did, you are then faced with a tough decision: is repair possible and logical, or is it time for a new appliance? These tips may help you answer that question.

  • Start with Service
    Before giving up on a noisy or failing appliance, get it serviced. Appliances under warranty may have repairs covered and may be less expensive than replacement. For an older appliance, however, parts and labor may cost more than buying new. In addition, in some cases the parts for older appliances may no longer be available.

    Talking to a service professional is the best way to make this determination, but even before you can take that step, you have options. Check your owner's manual to see if it has any service tips (signing up for a GE Appliances Account gives you online access to owner's manuals) and then schedule service online or by telephone if needed.
  • Remember Lifespan
    Even the best appliances don't last forever. So how to know when to repair or go ahead and replace? Use this handy rule: If an appliance is 50 percent through its lifespan, the cost to fix it should be less than 50 percent of the price of a new appliance. As an example, if your dishwasher is halfway through its lifespan, then pay no more than 50 percent to fix it. In some cases, it might be more cost-effective to purchase a new appliance, but fixing it could be a good option.
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  • Consider an Upgrade
    Ready to say goodbye to a machine on its last leg? Buying new appliances is exciting, but there's also a lot to consider:
    • Size: Measure your old appliance bay to make sure a new one will fit. Modern refrigerators, for example, are larger than older models, so you want to make sure your space has enough room for the new appliance to fit. Check the height, width and depth of new appliances to ensure there's enough room.
    • Fuel: Are you currently using an electric stove but prefer natural gas? Be certain about which fuel sources are available in your home and what installing a new line would cost before making a switch.
    • Energy: Check the serial number of your current appliance to determine its age. If it was built before Energy Star was introduced in 1992, a new certified appliance will reduce your energy costs. As an example, new refrigerators use about 50 percent less energy than those made 20 years ago.
    • Features: Appliance technology has rocketed forward by leaps and bounds—even in just a few years. Buying new gives you access to tech-forward features, such as a dishwasher with a third rack, a refrigerator with a built-in Keurig, a Wi-Fi-enabled oven that preheats while you drive home from work, or a smart washing machine that dispenses detergent on its own. (Ready for a new oven? Learn more about convection versus conventional heat before you appliance shop.)
    • Value: New, upgraded appliances may increase the value of your home—and make the difference between selling or stagnating in a competitive real-estate market.
  • Time + Money + Convenience
    All three are all important considerations when choosing between servicing or upgrading appliances. Do you have the funds to buy a new refrigerator? Can you live a week without a stove or washer while it's being repaired?
Man in Kitchen

In some cases, a low-cost servicing can translate into many more years of use from an appliance. Other times, however, it may be cheaper and faster to replace appliances. Or, the added expense for replacement is worth it because of the energy- or time-saving features offered by modern machines. Only you can make that decision, but knowing what to consider can help you understand your options.

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