We might as well face the fact that our new appliances won’t last as long as the old ones. Getting your money’s worth from major kitchen and laundry appliances these days is becoming more and more difficult – and expensive!
Extended warranties are iffy at best, and on average cost about the same as the average repair… if the repair parts are even available. And I’m not talking about the parts for “old faithful.” I’m talking about parts for your 3 to 5 year-old appliance that’s already failed to keep up with daily life.
Our love of automation, including all the computers and electronic sensors that facilitate automation, has come home to haunt us! Modern appliances are more complex and sophisticated than yesterday’s machines. With fridges that tell you what's inside, and dishwashers that know how dirty your dishes are, and laundry machines that figure out for themselves, how long to wash and dry your clothes… yep, you’re more likely than ever to experience a breakdown. In addition to parts, you’ll need a trained and skilled technician to troubleshoot your troubles.
I was disappointed to see our 5 year-old dishwasher acting up again yesterday, especially since it was the replacement for a 6 year-old dishwasher that came with the house, along with all the other band-new appliances that died one-by-one during the first 6 years in our brand-new house. The oven range had one element that couldn’t cook anything, and another that burned everything. The fridge simply quit and the microwave touch pad went off like a Roman candle in my wife’s hand. So, we paid about $1200 to replace the original $500 dishwasher five years ago, partly due I guess to inflation – and largely because I thought we didn’t want anymore junk.
Well, that didn’t really get us anywhere!
As a former electronics technician, I wasn’t shy to look up the error codes online and with a voltmeter, determine the cause of the bad behaviour. Turns out the circuit board is listed at $365+HST which really doesn’t matter, because it’s no longer available. No wonder Consumer Reports found that only 60% of appliance repairs are completed on the first visit.
According to Consumer Reports surveys, up to 40% of major household appliances will break down in the first 5 years, depending on the product. That’s why I did my research and chose a better-rated dishwasher. Problem is, most consumer reviews are written shortly after purchase, when appliances are still shiny and well-behaved.
When it comes to brands, some aren’t very good and others are worse.
Kinda’ reminds me of RV’s and motorhomes, but that’s a rant for another day. Are you left wondering what the solution is? Me too.
Although there’s not much you and I can do, to improve appliance design, engineering and manufacturing quality, there are however some things we can do to reduce the frequency of negative outcomes for ourselves.
There are exceptions to every rule but generally speaking, if you’re buying appliances:
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Gil Strachan is a professional home inspector, representing Electrospec Home Inspection Services in east-central Ontario since 1994.