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  HOME APPLIANCES:
  REPAIR OR REPLACE?
Five years ago, you bought a dishwasher. Now it isn’t draining quite right, but does that mean you should make a repair or just replace the whole thing? It’s a tough question, but local experts gave us some tips and tricks to help you through the process.
 How long will my appliance last?
According to a study by the National Association of Home Builders, you can expect roughly the following lifespan for these appliances:
• Dishwasher: 9 years
• Refrigerator: 13 years, 9 for compact
• Washing machine: 10 years
• Dryer: 13 years
• Garbage Disposal: 12 years
• Range: 13 years for electric, 15 for gas
• Microwave: 9 years
• Water heater: 10 to 20 years
These numbers are averages and can
vary greatly depending on the cost of
the appliance and the frequency of use. According to Spenard Builders Supply, most appliances will last about eight to 10 years, with the better ones surpassing that number (Sub-Zero and Wolf products can last 20+ years), and low-end models sometimes falling beneath the average ($200 dishwashers may only last 2-3 years). In general, the more expensive the appliance is, the longer it’s going to last. If you’re strapped for cash –
or just concerned about wasting a “good” appliance – repairing your appliance is a tempting option, but the cost may not be worth it.
The sum of the parts is often greater than the whole.
A minimum repair that includes parts could range between $150 and $400, says a rep with Dan’s TV and Appliances in Kenai. But often, it’s the cost of the parts, especially replacing major components, that affect a homeowner’s decision to repair.
The pricing of parts depends on the manufacturer; for example, GE, Whirlpool, Frigidaire and Wolf each have their own brands at different price points and levels of quality. Then there are brands like Sub-Zero and Wolf, considered by many to be the Mercedes Benz of appliances, with even higher prices for parts. When parts are so expensive, it’s key to consider if the appliance is worth repairing, if you can do the repair yourself and, of course, if it’s even a problem with the appliance.
Is it broken? Try troubleshooting.
Often when an appliance is not working, people will automatically think it’s broken – but it could be user error. A classic example: A washing machine improperly draining.
The fix? It could be as simple as cleaning out the drain trap in the machine. Or it could be sediment buildup on your fill hose’s screen, particularly for homeowners on freshwater well systems. The solution for that is as simple as shutting off the water, disconnecting the
hoses, popping out the screens and cleaning them. Zero charge for the repair.
There are a number of other appliance
repairs that DIYers can try out:
• Unplug the problem appliance, wait a few minutes, and plug it back in.
• If it’s a fridge/freezer, try giving it a full defrost.
• For a dishwasher, clear out your air gap and check all drainage under the sink for blockages.
• If your dishwasher is leaking, try reinstalling it with a slight backwards tilt to create a proper door seal.
If you have questions, you can visit your local appliance shop and ask an expert.
Are there “hidden” expenses when replacing my appliance? Keep in mind the additional expenses of
replacements, like installation. Here are some suggestions to save on new installations:
• For your fridge, make sure your water line that will lead to the icemaker is in tact.
• For stoves and ovens, check your gas hookup lines to ensure they aren’t kinked – you don’t want a gas leak.
• Purchase an installation kit with your new dishwasher – old hoses and waterlines could crack and cause leaks in the long run.
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