PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A lot of things are disposable these days, but what about your appliances? How do you know when to fix them, or get something new? It’s a call we never want to make.

We’ve all been there. The dishwasher won’t wash, the drier won’t dry, or the fridge is on the fritz.

“You not only have an appliance that’s not working, you are going to lose your commodities that are in it. The money that you spend to put in there to feed your family. Those things add up to a lot of money,” Deborah Hauck with Appliance Service Center said.

So can appliance repairs. Do-it-yourselfers can do basic cosmetic fixes, but often big jobs should be reserved for trained techs.

“Sometimes you repair one problem, and there is an underlying problem — so it can have layers. And those are things that you don’t know until a technician actually looks at it,” Hauck said.

KDKA-TV asked the pros for a rule of thumb about how to decide when to pull the plug.

“If it’s usually more than 50 percent the value of a new product, it’s usually time to consider a new product,” Don’s Appliances Sales Manager Matt Hillebrand said.

Essentially, if it costs more than $500 to fix your $1,000 fridge, it’s time for a new one. Hauck said the percentage is slightly higher.

However, throw the estimate out the window if your appliance is built-in like subzero units.

We may complain about the cooking and cleaning we have to do, but when it comes time to replace an appliance, you might be surprised at how many people are nostalgic about the ones they currently have.

The problem there is that in some cases, the parts to repair the appliance are no longer attainable.

Higher efficiency equals less electricity, or far less water usage for a dishwasher or washing machine. Those are savings that can pay for a new unit.

Newer machines are often easier to use and have more features. Mary Dunbar looked at the numbers before replacing her 11-year-old dishwasher.

“I could have bought the parts, but the parts would have been over half of what the new dishwasher is,” Dunbar said.

The experts say appliances need regular maintenance to last longer. Here’s a couple tips for simple ways to make your appliances last longer:

  • Use rigid vents for your dryer. Flexible ones hold lint, which can increase drying time and the risk of fire.
  • Pull out your refrigerator and vacuum around the condenser as well as under the fridge.
  • Clean out the microwave.
  • Don’t use too much soap in the washing machine, especially if you’re washing a small load.
  • Try to use high-efficiency detergent for front-load and high-efficiency top-load washers.


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