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Large appliances — repair or replace?
By Angie Hicks
When the fridge goeswarm or the washing ma-chine stops spinning, youmay face a crucial question:Is it worth spending timeand money getting an appli-ance repaired, or would it bewiser to replace it?The answer depends onnumerous factors. Our consumer-services researchteam, in talking to top-ratedappliance repair profession-als from around the country,recommends these guide-lines for deciding: —Check the troubleshoot-ing section of the instructionmanual. You may discover
an easy x that might ne
-gate the need to call a repair person. —Consider the age andhistory of the appliance.Has it broken down before?If you’ve not had prior problems, it may be cost-
effective to explore repair options rst.
—In many cases, it can beworth the money to call arepair pro out, even if youhave to pay for a service
call. A reliable appliance ex
pert can examine the deviceand explain your options.
—If a repair is estimatedto cost more than half the price of a new appliance andthe unit is more than 6 or 7years old, it may be time to buy a new one.When comparing a repair estimate to the cost of re- placement, be sure to fac-tor in all costs, includingwhether there will need to
be retrotting or other ac
-commodations if a replace-
ment doesn’t easily t in
your kitchen. Consider anycosts for removal, instal-lation and disposal. Also,determine how soon any en-ergy savings will offset thecost of a new appliance.Our researchers hear fre-quently about situationsin which a repair saved a
consumer signicant money
over the cost of replacement.
One recent example featured
a Maryland member of An-gie’s List who consideredreplacing his 15-year-old re-frigerator when water leakedfrom the bottom.The top-rated repair ser-vice he hired found thatthe leak was caused by aclogged defrost drain in thefreezer, easily repaired for $99. The service provider estimated the fridge would
last another ve or six yearswith the x, compared to
a cost of $1,500 or more to buy a new fridge.Other common problemsthat can be affordably re- paired include dishwash-ers or washing machinesclogged by too much re-sidual soap, and appliancesin need of new fan motors, belts and electronic controls.
More extensive, expensive
repairs that might signifythat replacement is a better option include issues withthe refrigerant system or compressor with fridges, or broken motors on washersand dryers.If you don’t know a reliableappliance repair profession-al, check with neighbors,friends or online reviewservices to see who’s locallywell-reviewed. Check howlong the company has beenin business and how muchinventory its workers carryon trucks, as well as howquickly a technician can besent out.One way to reduce theneed for hiring appliancerepair services is to takegood care of your large ap- pliances. Our team suggeststhese tips for keeping appli-ances running longer: —Clean refrigerator con-denser coils annually. —Don’t overload dish-washers or washing ma-chines. —Clean the dishwasher’s
lter to remove debris and
hard-water deposits. Makesure spray holes in the spin-ning arms are debris-free.
—Clean the dryer’s lint l
-ter before each use. Inspectand thoroughly clean the
exhaust duct annually.
—Don’t allow grease to build up on your stove or oven.
—Check air lters monthly
and replace as needed. ——— ABOUT THE WRITER Angie Hicks is the founder of Angie’s List, a resourcefor local consumer reviewson everything from homerepair to health care. Fol-low her on Twitter at @An-gie_Hicks.
Sunday, September 8, 2013