When to Repair or Replace Your Appliances

Laundry Room with White Appliances

Before you start to think of buying new, there are plenty of appliance fixes that can help your washer, dryer, fridge and dishwasher last for years to come.

How can you determine when an appliance just needs a quick fix vs. when it’s time to retire it? As you consider whether to repair or replace some of your hardest-working appliances — your washer, dryer, refrigerator and dishwasher — don’t forget to factor in these two things: how long appliances last and average appliance repair costs.

Here are a few common appliance problems that can easily be repaired, as well as a few indications that it’s time to think about replacing.

Washing Machine

There are plenty of common washer problems you can probably repair yourself. A few of the most common washing machine repairs include the following.

  • If water temperature isn’t right, try replacing the washer temperature selector switch.
  • If the machine overfills, replace the washer water-level pressure switch.
  • If it’s making noises and vibrating, repair or replace the washer spin basket.
  • If the door won’t lock or open, replace the washer door lock assembly.
  • If your machine isn’t working and it’s relatively new, check the warranty. Repairs may be covered. If it’s in the double digits age-wise and requires several costly repairs, it may be time for a replacement.

Dryer

There are some relatively easy fixes for your dryer, too.

  • If it runs and runs but doesn’t heat up and takes an eternity to dry, the thermal fuse may be broken and need to be replaced.
  • If it runs but then turns off quickly, the thermostat may be the culprit and should be replaced.
  • If it shakes so much that the detergent and dryer sheets you store on top of it fall to the floor, replace the drum seal.
  • But if these fixes don’t work or the problems grow worse — no, your dryer should not be smoking — and your dryer is nearly 15 years old, it’s likely that it may not be worth the cost to repair.

Refrigerator

You should be able to repair common fridge issues including the following.

  • If the door won’t close properly, replace the door seal.
  • If it’s dark when you open the refrigerator door, install a new light bulb.

For more complicated issues — such as a leak, the ice maker won’t work, there’s no water in the dispenser or a fridge that doesn’t cool properly — you’ll want to call in the experts and schedule a refrigerator repair service. And then you should also factor in age; if it’s over 13 years old, it may be time to buy new.

Dishwasher

These are a few of the most common DIY dishwasher repairs.

  • If your dishwasher stops mid-cycle, it might be that the door doesn’t close properly and you need to replace the dishwasher door latch assembly.
  • If water is leaking, replace the door seal.
  • If your dishes aren’t drying, replace the high-limit thermostat.
  • If it’s not filling with enough water, replace the dishwasher water inlet valve.

Once your dishwasher issues start invading your living space, e.g., if the interior is cracked and the subsequent leak is damaging your floor or adjacent cabinets, it’s likely time to replace. If the appliance is nearing a decade old, you should also consider buying a new one.

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