Monday, June 29, 2015 / by Bill Berning*
Owning a home is all about stretching every dollar as far as possible. Unfortunately, sometimes your best bet isn’t grabbing the duct tape and improvising, but instead calling in the professionals for a replacement. To help you figure out the right timing for this shift in approach, let’s hear from some leading voices on the subject from around the web.
Few things are worse than coming home to a hot refrigerator, dishwasher bubbling over with suds, or any other major kitchen calamity. However, failing to know when to repair or replace these items just takes this bad situation and makes it even worse.
When it comes to your daily life, it’s probably a safe assumption to say that the kitchen is at the heart of the home. Unfortunately, this means that facing an appliance breakdown in this room is exponentially worse when compared to other standard housing calamities. Thankfully, by arming yourself with a firm understanding of the signs that an impending replacement is on the horizon, you’ll be able to handle this problem before it morphs into a more serious issue.
You’ve Hit the Average Life Expectancy
As the team at This Old House points out, there’s no better place to start this discussion than with a look at the average life expectancy of the major appliances. Essentially, if you’re closing in on these timeframes – or you’ve passed them entirely – then it’s probably time for a replacement.
Generally, microwaves, dishwashers, and trash compactors will last around nine years, while freezers, disposals, and refrigerators all fall into the 10 to 13 year range. At the top end of the spectrum are overhead stove hoods and ranges, clocking in at 14 and 15 years each.
Unclogging the Vents and Filters Doesn’t Change Anything
If the life expectancy of the appliance isn’t it question, it’s worth taking a deeper look at the exhaust units associated with these devices. Removing any dust and dirt clogging the vents and filters on these items should help reduce overheating. In the event that this isn’t a fix and these appliances still overheat, then chances are you’re due for a new model.
Cooling Units Fail in the Refrigerator
As far as the viability of your refrigerator goes, Amy Roberts of Good Houskeeping notes that sputtering cooling systems and spoiled food items are far from a good sign. While the aforementioned vent and filter cleanout trick can serve as a fix in some scenarios, a failing cooling unit usually requires a complete overhaul or replacement – especially on older models.
The Stove Can’t Maintain Temperature
Similarly, Roberts also provides some insight regarding issues that could lead to a stove replacement. As one of the pricier additions to your list of home appliances, saying goodbye to a range can be a hard pill to swallow. However, the inability to maintain consistent temperatures during cooking sessions is a sure sign that you at least need to call in an expert for a look.
Dishes Keep Coming out Dirty
As the last member of the “Big Three” in the kitchen, having a faulty dishwasher is generally harder to ignore than a failing fridge or range. Grimy and dirty dishes, shuttering or mechanical rattling, and constant leaking are all tell-tale events which show that things aren’t in working order with this appliance.
Following the 50 Percent Rule
If you’ve run into any of these issues and you think there might be hope for a repair instead of a replacement, Douglas Trattner of the National Association of Realtors’ House Logic blog suggests comparing the particulars of this appliance to the “50 percent” rule.
Basically, this rule states that if your broken appliance is more than 50 percent of the way through its useful lifespan and the cost of repair is more than 50 percent of the cost to replace it, you’re better off just springing for a new model. Naturally, having an estimate on hand and the aforementioned lifespans readily available goes a long way toward cutting the guesswork out of this method.
There’s Electrical Damage
While sticking to things like the 50 percent rule look great on paper, the truth of the matter is that some issues supersede these guidelines. For instance, having an appliance that’s experiencing electrical problems moves the concern away from cost and closer to the safety of you and your family. Replacing a refrigerator is tough on your bank account, but this event is just a drop in the bucket when compared to the effects of an electrical fire in your home.
The Appliance Is Warping the Floors
On a related note, Trattner also lumps floor and structural damage into the same category as dealing with an electrical issue. Again it all boils down to impact. Adding on unnecessary expenses, like ripping up hardwood or linoleum, just serves as the tipping point needed to turn this unfortunate situation into an outright homeowner’s nightmare.
Other Simple Fixes Simply Won’t Do the Trick
If you’ve gotten this far, chances are you’ve cleaned out the vents and filters, checked for problematic wiring or components, and generally explored all of the “quick fix” options at your disposal. Once you reach this point, it’s time to hand over this problem to a warranty provider, or simply buck up and start shopping for a budget-friendly and adequate replacement appliance.
The Experts Are out of Ideas
For those who have home warranties and other agreements that can lead to repeated visits from mechanics and repairmen, sometimes you’re better off just asking for a replacement. Playing the constant game of going from fixed to broken and back again isn’t exactly feasible when you’re trying to keep your kitchen in working order, so exploring any options you might have regarding replacements over repairs can help limit your downtime and get things back in order as fast as possible.
Obviously, going through all of these signs and trying to figure out when it’s the right time to spring for a replacement can be a draining ordeal. However, getting a concrete, straightforward answer regarding whether it’s time for a repair or a completely new unit can do wonders for your stress levels and bank account. As a homeowner who’s just trying to make the right decisions, there’s no denying that keeping an eye for these signs is always a good idea.