repair or replace
Repair or Replace?
By Avi Goldstein
I'm often asked by customers whether a certain appliance is worth repairing. Certain American websites advise throwing out appliances very quickly, with the argument going that with the increased energy efficiency the payback period will be relatively short. This is probably true. Appliance prices have been declining in recent years even as many of them have become more energy efficient. On the other hand the quality of the appliances have tended to decline with the prices. So what you save in energy you may end up paying in service calls. And, don't forget that materials are getting flimsier and flimsier, so parts that previously lasted forever will wear out and have to be replaced in much shorter amounts of time.
And of course everyone can tell you that new fridges are much more environmentally friendly because they no longer use R-12 which is reputed to destroy the ozone. A very important point. But what we sometimes fail to remember is that we already have the fridge with R-12. If we continue using it for another year or 2 or 10, it's another year or 2 or ten before we have to recycle that R-12. There has to be some benefit to that.
And speaking of recycling what happens to the appliances that we get rid of. Over 50 per cent of American appliances get recycled (Israel, unfortunately is probably 50 per cent lower in recycling appliances, closer to 0%). But that still means that the other 50% is going to land fill. Which means that the longer we make our appliances last the slower the land fill will fill up.
And now back to the original question, repair or replace. Obviously, I haven't seen your specific appliance, so I'll try to give the guidelines that I give to my customers when they are presented with a major repair option.
Older appliances are usually made better than their newer replacements.
Have you hated this specific appliance from day one? If so, then you probably should get rid of it.
What is the general condition of the appliance? Is the body rusting? Remember, you don't want to put money into an appliance that is going to fall apart in three weeks.
What are your options for replacing it. For example, if you have a free standing range and you want a built-in oven next, you may choose to repair the oven until such time as you're ready to redo the kitchen.
What is the repair history of the appliance. Sometimes consumers (and yes, even repair people) get frustrated when an appliance has 2 or 3 unrelated break downs in a short amount of time. This does not necessarily indicate that the appliance is dying, but it can be annoying. Unfortunately we cannot foretell what will break down next and when. (A customer once told me a story about selling a car that he had when he had to many repairs in a short period of time. A couple of years later he bumped into the buyer, half-expecting to get a slap on the wrists for selling him that junk. Turned out that the car hadn't had in a repair in the next 2 years. )
Who can predict?
Avi Goldstein is the Manager of Goldstein & Berger Ltd. American Appliance specialists in Jerusalem.