When to Repair, Replace or Recycle

Do you have a malfunctioning or broken appliance in need of repair? When an appliance goes haywire, you may be faced with deciding when to repair, replace or recycle an appliance. It can seem simpler to just get rid of it then to fix it. If you have appliances in your home, you’re eventually going to be faced with a choice, when one of them breaks down. 

Getting the item fixed and keeping your refrigerator or washing machine out of the landfill for another couple of years might be a wise environmental choice even if the appliance is not the most energy-efficient. There is an intelligent way to determine if you should have it repaired or just outright replaced.

While doing the repairs ourselves may seem daunting, in some cases, it might be easier than you think if you are a pretty handy person with the time and patience to complete the project. Knowing when to repair, replace or recycle and appliances play a very important role in the economy and the environment. Each year there are literally tons of otherwise usable items that end up in landfills, that could have been corrected with a little attention.

So this was written to give you a better understanding of when to repair, replace or recycle. In my years of appliance repair and recycling, I have noticed that many home appliances can last much longer than you might expect. Washing machines and dryers can last over 10 years and refrigerators and ranges can go even longer. 

In our business, we have come up with a “Rule of Thumb” approach to repair, replace or recycle appliances.

The rule of thumb is… 

  1. if you can repair a machine for 50% or less of the cost of a comparable replacement of the appliance.
  2. If the appliance still looks good cosmetically and…
  3. The current machine can provide an additional 3-5 years of service with any other malfunctions.

Then, the machine is worth repairing and you should feel confident in this expenditure, but if any of these answers are no we usually suggest to our customers to purchase a newer home appliance.

Let’s start with a refrigerator. If you need to make repairs on an older fridge, it’s probably worth getting a new one instead. 

New refrigerators consume up to 75% less energy than those made before 2001 when you buy a new fridge, opt for a top freezer model rather than side by side and make sure it’s energy star certified and your refrigerator should then last you about 14 years. 

Repairing Your Appliance

If a new washing machine will cost $700 but yours can be fixed for $350 or less, why not realize the savings? You may even be able to do the repairs yourself with the parts you’ve purchased online. In this case, the savings will be even more than if you had hired a technician to do it. 

It doesn’t have to be intimidating. As stated earlier, if you have the patience and are pretty handy with tools there are many step-by-step videos available that will help guide you through the process. Revealing u how easy it can be and giving you the confidence to take on home appliance repairs yourself in the end. Fixing your home appliances and electronics can save you money over time and it will keep functional items from going to waste. 

Other times there are just no alternatives and knowing when to replace and recycle that old washing machine is very important too. Nothing lasts forever. Even the hardest and most faithful appliances will eventually reach the end of its usefulness. How do we know when that time has come to dispose of an appliance? 

Appliance Replacement

If you’re frequently repairing an appliance, the time and money you put into the appliance will begin to rival the replacement costs. Also, another thing to keep in mind is older appliances are less energy-efficient than much newer models. 

Replacing Dishwashers

Replacing older dishwashers is also a good idea. Newer models use less hot water, have energy-efficient motors and sensors to determine the length of the wash cycle, making energy star models 25% more efficient than the minimum federal standards. 

Now, when you shop for a new dishwasher, choose one with a light wash or energy savings cycle and expect to hang onto it for about nine years. Here’s something you might not know. It’s not a good idea to hand wash your dishes as an alternative to running the dishwasher because you’ll generally use more hot water in the sink. 

Replacing Dryers 

When the dryer breaks. Fixing is probably better than ditching a dryer as the average life cycle is about 13 years and as long as it has a moisture sensor and most of them do it functions at about the same efficiency as current models. When it’s time to buy a new dryer, look for one with the sensor in the drum as opposed to in the exhaust vent, it’ll shut off a little sooner and save slightly more energy. However, since dryers consume large amounts of energy line drying or hanging your clothes on, a rack is the greenest option.

Washing Machine Replacement

If you are considering recycling or fixing your washing machine, consider replacement first, especially if you’ve got a top-loading washer. Top loaders use a lot more water than the new front-loading machines. Look for the energy star label on the front. These units might cost a little more, but these models circulate close in a shallower pool of water. Use less water and heat and save you money in the long run. 

Appliance Recycling

If your home appliance item isn’t too old, still looks good cosmetically and doesn’t emit smoke when turned on, it may be a good candidate to recycle it to someone else instead of throwing it away. This is a good option for the environment as well as this will keep unnecessary items out of the landfill before it’s time. 

So any savings you make from repairing it are likely to be offset by a higher energy bill. At this point, it may make sense to recycle the appliance, check with local recyclers or your utility company for free pickup options for these older appliances. There may even be a rebate check in it for you to incentivize an upgrade to a more energy-efficient appliance. 

Consider listing appliances online for recycling options. You’ll likely find someone willing to pick it up if they can get it for free. Also, you could consider donating them to local charities and thrift stores for tax credits. 

As the saying goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Someone else may find a good use for that old appliance. Keep this Rule of Thumb in mind when determining when to repair, replace or recycle your appliances in need of repair. In the end, you will ultimately save money while keeping usable items out of landfills. 

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