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Should You Repair or Replace a Broken Home Appliance?

There are many advantages of homeownership, but the burden of maintaining, repairing and replacing home appliances goes right along with it. The decision to repair or replace a broken or failing appliance is often made under pressure and without adequate knowledge about the nature of the appliance or its expected lifetime.

Water Heaters Unless the water heater isn’t working properly because of a part that’s easy to replace, it’s almost never a good idea to repair it. The primary causes of water heater failure are tank leaks or corrosion, neither of which can be repaired.

Refrigerators Many repairs for refrigerators are easy and affordable, especially if the problem is a bad motor, a refrigerant leak or issues with electronic controls. However, door seals can fail, causing the appliance to run overtime or build frost in the freezer section. Between the cost of replacement seals and the labor to install them, it often makes sense to replace the refrigerator instead of repairing it.

Dishwashers Mechanically, dishwashers are fairly simple appliances that are easily repaired. Problems associated with the door seal or holes inside the tub often prompt a replacement rather than a repair, though.

Stoves and Ovens Because stoves and ovens have few moving parts, they break down less often and replacement is typically a matter of personal preference rather than necessity. However, stove and oven heating elements do fail, and unless the appliance is too old, replacement burners and elements are readily available. Newer ovens and ranges may have control panels built into them that can fail. Prices for parts vary, and it may be better to replace the unit rather than the component, especially if there’s an active home warranty.

Washers and Dryers Water leaks and broken belts are common problems associated with washing machines and easy to repair. A burned-out motor may prompt a replacement, depending on the washer’s age and condition. Clothes dryers create a good deal of heat, and when they malfunction, it can be dangerous if their safety switches malfunction. A dryer that overheats clothing is a fire hazard, and unless the breakdown results from a failed motor or timer, it’s probably a good idea to consider replacing it.

Major appliances do make life easier and more comfortable, but they’re often a mystery to homeowners. When making a repair-or-replace decision, consult the manufacturers or representatives that service them.


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