Washer Repair vs. Replacing Washer

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Determining whether you should repair or replace a damaged washing machine can be a difficult process and requires the consideration of several factors. These include whether the washer is still under the warranty, the costs of repairing versus replacing and energy efficiency. In general, repairing can offer short-term saving, while replacing washers can be more cost effective in the long-term. According to the "Richmond Times-Dispatch," industry figures show that consumers tend to repair washers more often than they replace them, and shipments of appliances in general were down 15 percent as of 2009.

Repair-or-Replace Rules

  • For the past few decades, the general rule in terms of whether a washing machine should be repaired or replaced has been expressed in the ratio of cost of repairing versus cost of replacing. If a washer repair were estimated to cost 50 percent or more of the cost of new washer (and the damaged washer was seven years old or older), it would be beneficial financially to go ahead and get a new washer. Today, this rule is even more relevant, as appliances are rapidly becoming more energy efficient.

Warranty

  • If a washing machine is still under warranty at the time of its malfunction, consumers should review its terms and conditions. Often repair costs for appliances still under-warranty are free or insubstantial. However, the length of warranties has been going decreasing in the past few years. Repairing an older washing machine no longer under warranty becomes an out-of-pocket expense in a shorter time.

Costs

  • Depending on whose services are used, repairing a washing machine can involve a $50 to $75 fee just for determining the cause of the malfunction. In 2009, general repairs, like a belt replacement, usually cost about $100 in addition to the diagnosis fee. Depending on the model, a new washer can cost anywhere from $600 to into the thousands of dollars. It is more beneficial for consumers to repair an old washer if they are saving up to buy a high-end, expensive model. However, if a less expensive model is desired, the consumer can save on repair costs--which make a big dent in purchasing power--by simply purchasing the inexpensive model.

Energy Efficiency

  • The energy efficiency of your current or potentially future washing machine also plays an important role in deciding whether to repair or replace. In general, top-loading washer models are extremely inefficient and use roughly twice as much water as their top-loading counterparts. According to Energy Star, the federal government's energy efficiency program, new front-loading washers (which are Energy Star approved) can save consumers (and the planet) close to 7,000 gallons of water per year. This also saves consumers about $550 in costs over their lifetimes.

Self-Repair

  • Close to 75 percent of washer repair costs come from labor. If the washer's problem is not that complicated, consumers who are technically savvy should consider fixing it themselves. Replacement parts can be found at appliance distributors, hardware stores and online.

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