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Is Repairing an Appliance on the Fritz Worth the Effort?

Posted on Mar 7, 2019 in:
  • Maintain
  • Seattle Times HomeWork
  • Homeowners

Homeowner using a washing machine

Q: Some of my older home appliances, such as my washer, dryer, and kitchen appliances, aren’t working as efficiently as they used to. How do I determine when it’s time to replace an appliance?

A: Broken appliances can be a headache. When your appliances stop working, most homeowners will kick the old appliance to the curb and purchase a shiny new replacement—but that isn’t always the best decision! 

Oftentimes, it’s more practical and cost-efficient to repair rather than replace, should your appliance fit certain criteria. Consider repair cost, lifespan of the product, and what a brand new appliance may cost. If the appliance breaks down past its average lifespan or the cost of repair would surpass half the price of a new one, it may be time for a replacement.

To save time, money, and trouble, here are some key factors to consider when you are deciding what to do with a defective appliance. 

Washing Machines

Brand new: $450–$1,750 ($750 average)
Lifespan: 10 years
Average installation cost: $50–$150
Average repair cost: $125–$225

Replace: If the washer no longer spins, you’re better off purchasing a new one. The process to repair this particular problem is lengthy and the replacement parts are expensive.

Repair: If it’s leaking, if water isn’t properly draining, or if it’s just behaving a bit oddly. Washers having these problems are typically simple and affordable to fix!


Brand new: $250–$1,200 ($450 average)
Lifespan: 12 years
Average installation cost: $50–$100
Average repair cost: $75–$150

Replace: If you ever witness the dryer begin to smoke and it isn’t due to a clogged lint trap or vent hose, get rid of it. The repair costs would be high and the appliance is a fire risk.

Repair: If it isn’t drying your clothes as quickly as it should, it isn’t spinning, or if it’s making odd sounds or smells. Other common problems can be associated with venting, which are easy to fix.

Additional tip: Clean out your lint trap and vent hose regularly to keep your dryer healthy. A clogged dryer can cause the motor to burn out quickly.


Brand new: $550–$2,200 ($1,100 average)
Lifespan: 12 years
Average installation cost: $150–$250
Average repair cost: $225–$400

Replace: If the compressor is broken. You can identify if the compressor is broken by listening to your fridge—it’s the device that provides that typical low-hum noise people often associate with their refrigerator. If you can’t hear that hum and the inside of your fridge and freezer are warming, it’s time to replace it.

Repair: So long as the compressor isn’t the problem! Leaks, sealing, fan and coil problems, ice machine repairs, etc., are all relatively simple repairs.

Ovens & Ranges

Brand new: $600–$3,000 ($1,600 average)
Lifespan: 14 years
Average installation cost: $100–$200
Average repair cost: $100–$225

Replace: If the inside of the oven is rusting or the glass on the door is cracked. If rust gets in your food, it can make you extremely sick. Door replacements are hard to find and expensive.

Repair: If burners won’t turn on, the oven won’t heat or self-clean, the oven door won’t close, or if the cooking temperatures are inaccurate.

Whether you choose to repair or replace, the start of a new year is a great time to look at improving your home. The health of your appliances is a great place to start!


Jake Short is social media manager of Mike’s Handyman Service LLC, a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties (MBAKS). If you have a home improvement, remodeling, or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of MBAKS’ more than 2,900 members, write to


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