How long should appliances last?

11:12 PM, Feb 11, 2011   |    comments
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So you may be wondering, how long can you expect that new appliance to last?

Ann Domeck, a member of our MomsLikeMe.com community, says  her washer and dryer gave her 16 good years. But just a few weeks ago, Ann's G.E. dryer stopped drying.

"I will put the load in, it will spin, and make a lot of drying noises. But there is no heat," Ann explained.

A fix would cost several hundred dollars, not worth it for a dryer that her served her family well but is now showing its age.

Rather than replace just the dryer, Ann decided to replace the pair. "How can you complain about 16 years?" Ann said.

"Those days are pretty much gone, said Dave Borsani, owner of Complete Appliance Service.

Borsani says today's appliances are very good. But we expect them to do more and they are more sophisticated. That adds up to more working parts, and parts that can break.

"Parts have gone up significantly. Replacement parts have gone up and that makes it difficult sometimes to do a cost-effective repair," Borsani said.

Replacing a part on a 12-year-old washer can add up to several hundred dollars. Customers have to decide whether putting that amount of money into an aging machine is worth it.

Borsani and his staff consult with customers everyday, helping them decide whether a fix is it worth it, or it's time for replacement.

Domeck doesn't think she'll get another 16 years out of her new washer and dryer, installed after we visited her. But she's hopeful.

"These days I will be happy if 10 years go by and they are both still working," Ann said.

Ten years is about right. We checked with Consumer Reports and, according to its appliance guide, the average life span of today's washers and dryers is roughly 10 to 13 years. But as with all appliances, some of that "life" depends on you!

Letting your dryer vent clog will significantly shorten your dryer's life span. It's also a fire hazard.

What about "other" appliances?

According to Angie Hicks, of Angie's List, a new dishwasher should last between 10 and 15 years.

Ovens and ranges can last between 10 and 20 years, according to Angie's List, as long as you don't let heavy grease build up on the oven interior.

Refrigerators and freezers should last about 10 to 15 years. These use a lot of energy, so buying a new one will save you money over time.Those small refrigerators popular in dorm rooms have a shorter life expectancy: about 9 years.

But just because your decade-old appliance is on the fritz  doesn't necessarily mean it's ready for replacement.

"There are many products out there at 15, even 20, 30 years that are still worth fixing. A lot of it just depends on the complaint," according to Dave Borsani.

Here are 4 questions you should ask to determine whether an appliance should be repaired or replaced.

1. How much will it cost to repair the unit?

2. How much would a similar appliance cost?

3. Is it really broken? It may be a short in the plug, a tripped circuit breaker, or bad surge-protector outlet.

4. Have you had trouble with the appliance before? If not, it might be worth fixing.

Most appliances come with warranties that cover anywhere from 1 to 3 years. Some dealers will allow you a few weeks to decide whether you want that extended warranty, which should give you time to go through all the fine print.

The life expectancies for household appliances listed above are general guidelines. Yours may last longer or need replacing sooner depending on how you treat them and product dependability.

That's why it's always a good idea to check brand repair histories before you buy.

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