Appliances: Repair or Replace?

July 14, 2011 10:29:46 AM PDT
Chances are, as you got ready for the day, you used several appliances around your house.

But do you know which one of them you will most likely have to replace first? According to Angie's List, a leading provider of consumer ratings on local service companies, refrigerators, dishwashers and washers and dryers are on the shorter end for major appliances. They last from 10 -15 years while ovens, ranges and water heaters last up to 20 years. And anywhere from 15 -20 for central air. But we're going to go beyond those numbers. Angie Hicks of Angie's List responds to these scenarios:

  • AN 8 YEAR OLD DISHWASHER THAT WON'T DRY DISHES -- REPLACE

    Angie: In this instance, I'd say replace. Most dishwashers will last 10, maybe 15 years. So this dishwasher is more than halfway through its useful life. Based on Angie's List reports in the past year, the average cost of an appliance repair is about $220 in Chicago. A new, more energy efficient dishwasher will cost you about $500, unless you're talking really high-end models.

  • A 10 YEAR OLD REFRIGERATOR THAT'S HAVING TROUBLE KEEPING THINGS COLD?--- REPLACE

    Angie: Sounds like a replace to me. That refrigerator only has about five years of good use left in it. Major appliances will suck up 17 percent of your electric bill, so opting to replace it with a new energy efficient model will save you money on your monthly energy bills. A top-of-the line new fridge could cost you $2,000, though, so if you can squeak by with a repair until you have the money for a new model, you might consider holding off.

  • A 12 YEAR OLD A-C UNIT THAT WON'T COOL THE HOUSE EFFICIENTLY, FIX IT OR NOT? -- REPAIR
  • Angie: The first question you need to ask is - has the AC system been properly maintained. If so, you can probably get another 8 years out of your system, so I say repair it! This is a key step that too many of us ignore, and it costs us big time. Each year that you skip out on an annual tune-up your AC loses about 5 perfect of its efficiency. If you've neglected regular maintenance for the past 4 years your unit is only 80-percent efficient?which means you're spending more money each and every month.

  • WHAT ABOUT COMPUTERS, HOW LONG ARE THEY SUPPOSED LAST NOWADAYS?-- REPAIR AND REPLACE
  • Angie: This is a tricky one. The average computer will last 3-7 years and the average cost of a computer repair in the Chicago area runs about $235, which can be just a little less than what you'd pay for a lower-end laptop. What you really have to keep in mind in this instance is how you use your computer. Do you use it to just check email and keep up on your Facebook friends? If so, than paying for a repair and hanging on to an older computer is worth it. But if you need the computer for work and need more speed and something with a better processor, than you should look into replacing it.

    Big Bucks Projects with small-bucks fixes

    BIG BUCKS PROJECT: New Bathtub

    SMALL BUCKS FIX: Re-glaze the old tub

    Angie: If your bathtub has cracked porcelain or tiles you may think your only option is to replace the tub, but think again. A new bathtub can cost anywhere from $200 to more than a thousand dollars depending on the style and size. You can save hundreds of dollars by simply opting to re-glaze the tub instead of replace it. Not only will you save money on the actual tub, but you'll also save yourself some trouble as many times you have to move or replace plumbing when installing a new tub.

    BIG BUCKS PROJECT: Kitchen remodel

    SMALL BUCKS FIX: Paint & Re-face kitchen cabinets

    Angie: Just as a fresh coat of paint can freshen up any room, re-facing your kitchen cabinets can give you a completely new look for a fraction of the cost. Cabinet re-facing costs about 25-30 percent less than new cabinets. It consists of installing new cabinet doors and drawer fronts, and covering the exposed frames of the cabinets with new matching wood or plastic veneer. Nothing is ripped out, so there isn't much destruction. This is a perfect option for anyone who likes the current layout of their kitchen but just wants an updated look.

    BIG BUCKS PROJECT: New Deck

    SMALL BUCKS FIX: Clean and seal the existing deck

    Angie: A deck is great investment and will last up to 20 years, but if you don't take care of it, it can become unsafe and splintered. At $10-20 per square foot, the cost of building a new deck may not be in your budget - so your best bet is going to be giving it a good cleaning and sealing. Hire a company to come out and pressure-wash the deck and seal it once a year. This will prevent warping and splintering. And don't forget to keep the deck free from debris build-up between boards - this will prevent dry rot.

    angieslist.com