What to do when an appliance conks out

Home appliances break and wear out, and many consumers are often surprised, almost as if they expect these machines to last forever.

But appliances have life spans. A trash compactor lasts just six years, on average, compared with a gas boiler, which typically lasts 20 years. Dishwashers tend to last a decade, while clothes washers last about 11 years.

Longtime homeowners know:In any given year, some appliance in a home will likely go kaput.

Life expectancies of home components depend on the quality of the appliance and its installation, as well as intensity of use, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Here’s how to use appliance life-span information to your financial benefit.

Repair or replace? If the repair costs half the price of a new appliance, seriously consider buying new, said Mark Kotkin at Consumer Reports. According to the magazine’s research, any major household appliance more than eight years old should be considered for replacement rather than repair. The magazine also suggest you skip the repair and buy new if your appliance costs less than $150. For example, it’s not going to pay to repair an out-of-warranty toaster.

Budgeting. Business folks know stuff wears out. They budget for replacing furniture in offices and machines in factories. Consumers are different.

“I’ve seen a lot of people’s budgets over the years, and it seems like household maintenance is one category that people miss,” said Matt Bell of MattAboutMoney.com.

People who know the age of their appliances and their expected life spans can budget better for replacements. Or they could maintain a more general emergency fund for when bad things happen. Either cash stash will help you avoid finance charges on a credit card you can’t pay off right away, said Bell.

Cash for applicances. Knowing an appliance’s life span might help you to decide whether to take advantage of incentives via the Snohomish County PUD and elsewhere to replace old models with energy-efficient ones.

Home warranty. A home warranty is a service contract for an existing home that covers major operating systems, such as a furnace or a dishwasher. The homeowner buys a repair contract, often for $300 to $500 a year, and pays a service charge for each call. If many of your major appliances are near the ends of their useful lives, a home warranty might be worthwhile. But warranties are complicated, covering some types of breakdowns and not others. Pre-existing conditions and malfunctions that stem from poor maintenance or installation can be excluded.

Average appliance life span in years

Compactors:6

Dishwashers:10

Disposers, food waste:9

Dryers, electric:12

Dryers, gas:12

Freezers:11

Microwave ovens:9

Ranges, electric:16

Ranges, gas:17

Range/oven hoods:11

Refrigerators:12

Washers:11

Water heaters, electric:13

Water heaters, gas:11

Air-conditioners, room:9

Air-conditioners, central:11

Boilers, gas:20

Dehumidifiers:7

Furnaces, gas:15

Furnaces, oil:17

Heat pumps:12

Source: ApplianceMagazine.com

Shopping Tips

Compare prices. Start your comparison search online, even if you’ll buy in-store.

Haggle. About 75 percent of consumers who tried to haggle on prices of appliances succeeded, according to a Consumer Reports survey.

Consider energy. Appliances have two costs, the original purchase cost and the operating cost. Consider both.

Don’t buy the warranty. Extended warranties usually aren’t worth it because most appliances don’t break during the warranty period and cost about as much as a repair would.

Source: Consumer Reports

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

The growing business district along 172nd Street NE in Arlington, looking west toward I-5. At lower left is the construction site of the new Amazon fulfillment center. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald)
Marysville-Arlington road improvements won’t happen at once

Traffic improvement projects near the Cascade Industrial Center will take shape over the next decade.

A line of Southwest Air Boeing 737 jets are parked near the company's production plant while being stored at Paine Field Friday, April 23, 2021, in Everett, Wash. Boeing reported its first quarterly profit since 2019 and revenue topped expectations, as the giant aircraft maker tries to dig out from the most difficult stretch in its history. Boeing said Wednesday, July 28, 2021, that it earned $567 million in the second quarter, compared with a $2.4 billion loss a year ago. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Boeing, for first time since 2019, has a profitable quarter

The earnings hint at a potential turnaround after one of the worst financial crises in the company’s history.

FILE - In this June 18, 2015, file photo, an Airbus A380 takes off for its demonstration flight at the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget airport, north of Paris. European planemaker Airbus reports that it made 1.87 billion euros profit in the second quarter. That's a relief after a loss in the same quarter a year ago during the depths of the pandemic shutdowns and travel restrictions. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)
Airbus, Boeing rivalry is back on as sales campaigns pick up

The improving outlook comes amid a travel reopening that’s gathering pace in some key markets.

Festive seafood specialties, modern delicacies with a beautiful presentation on the plate. Delicious dish - tender fish meat, with greens, lemon and vegetables. Cartoon vector.
You voted: The best seafood in Snohomish County

Even during a pandemic, people have their favorites

File - In this Sept. 24, 2014 file photo, smoke hangs over Reno-Tahoe International Airport as a plane takes off in Reno, Nev. A shortage of jet fuel, coupled with supply chain issues and an urgent demand from firefighting aircraft, continues to cause problems at airports around the West. In Nevada, state and federal lawmakers said they are investigating a possible shortage of jet fuel that could delay cargo delivery and passenger travel at Reno-Tahoe International Airport in the coming days. (AP Photo/Martha Irvine, File)
Airports in the US West dealing with shortage of jet fuel

Supply chain issues and an urgent demand from firefighting aircraft have combined to cause problems.

sandwich with ham, tomatoes, lettuce and toast isolated on white background, healthy breakfast, lunch
You voted: The best darn sandwich in Snohomish County

Even during a pandemic, people have their favorites

FILE - In this Aug. 26, 2019, file photo, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson speaks at a news conference in Seattle. Washington state sued Johnson & Johnson on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020, claiming the company was negligent when it used deceptive marketing to say the drugs were effective for treating pain and were unlikely to cause addiction. The lawsuit filed Thursday says the company that supplies raw materials used to make opiates drove the pharmaceutical industry to recklessly expand the production of the drugs. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Washington AG rejects opioids settlement, wants trial

The proposal would pay Washington about $527.5 million over 18 years if cities and counties opt in.

This photo provided by Blue Origin,   Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and space tourism company Blue Origin, exits the  Blue Origin's New Shepard capsule after it parachuted safely down to the launch area with passengers Mark Bezos, Oliver Daemen and Wally Funk, near Van Horn, Texas, Tuesday, July 20, 2021.  (Blue Origin via AP)
Blue Origin’s Bezos reaches space on 1st passenger flight

The Amazon founder is the second billionaire in just over a week to ride his own spacecraft.

The first flight for United Airlines servicing Paine Field taxis to the gate on March 31, 2019. (Kevin Clark / Herald file)
Come October, United Airlines will discontinue flights at Paine Field

The airline is one of two commercial carriers at the Everett airport. United flies to Denver.

Community leaders and officials break ground at the Port of Everett's Norton Terminal at the former Kimberly-Clark mill site along the waterfront Thursday morning in Everett on July 15, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Legacy of pollution makes Everett port project ‘challenging’

The former Kimberly-Clark mill site is nearing the end of a complex cleanup, part of a $36 million terminal project.

FILE - In this Oct. 28, 2020 file photo, a motorcyclist cruises past the Renton, Wash., Boeing plant where 737's are built. Boeing is temporarily lowering its delivery target for the 787 Dreamliner after discovering additional work that will need to be performed on the aircraft. The company said Tuesday, July 13, 2021, that the 787 production rate will temporarily be lower than five per month and will gradually return to that rate. (Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times via AP, File)
Boeing cuts production on the 787 to address a new flaw

The problem is on the forward pressure bulkhead, which keeps the plane’s interior pressurized.

State makes low interest loans available to small businesses

The state Department of Commerce is partnering with financial institutions and community-based organizations.