Major household appliances are usually—unlike so many things these days—built to last. So when your refrigerator stops working or your washing machine breaks down, you could save money repairing it yourself or with the help of a professional. Below are some tips to do-it-yourself repair, knowing when to call a professional, and when to throw in the towel and spring for a replacement.
First of all, always check your warranty (and keep such paperwork in the first place). If you can get a free repair or replacement, that’s ideal. Always check that an issue is with the machine, and not with outlet, circuit breaker, fuse, gas, or water. You don’t want to waste time trying to fix something that ain’t broken.
Fixing an appliance yourself might be more feasible than a salesperson will lead you to believe. If you think you can handle it on your own, then make sure the appliance is disconnected from electricity or gas. An owner’s manual is another paper that is worth keeping in a folder somewhere for that fateful day when you need to dissemble an item bigger than you.
If pieces of an appliance are held together with screws, bolts, or other fasteners you can easily dismantle with your own toolbox, great. If they’re welded together, you’ll need to call a professional repairperson. Sometimes, you may need to buy a new part but not an entire new machine.
The “50 Percent Rule” is a simple measure of whether it makes financial sense to buy a new appliance. If it costs 50 percent or less to repair an item, rather than replace it, then repair away. If a repair will cost more than half of the replacement cost, it probably makes sense to hit up the store. Consumer Reports also recommends replacing things that are over eight years old, unless it’s a high-end piece of equipment that you’d rather keep.
Remember: Energy Star appliances are cheaper and more available than ever before. If you do purchase a new machine, consider choosing one that uses less energy and that will therefore cost less over time.
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