When high-dollar items such as computers
, or clothes washers
bite the dust, the first thing that likely comes to mind is whether to get a repair guy to fix the appliance or electronic device or do some research to find a replacement. There are lots of factors to consider when making that important decision.
First off, is the thin
g really on the fritz? Take the time to troubleshoot your problem before you bail on it. With computers, for example, a simple reboot, many times, will solve a transitory problem. For a large appliance like a washer or dryer
, has the circuit breaker been tripped because one of your kids is trying to use a high-wattage hair dryer while a load of clothes is drying? A washer with an unbalanced load may trip a vibration sensor to stop the washer before it's damaged, or water on the floor may come from an abraded hose and not a leak in the tub. Check your user manual, call the manufacturer, or visit Internet chat boards for user-generated solutions to common problems.
For an idea of how long an electronic gizmo or appliance should last, take these approximations from those in the (repair) know. Note that is also dependant on initial quality of the item, daily use, etc.
For some help climbing your way through the branches of the repair or replace
decision tree, these are general
guidelines from various consumer advocate sources:
If the device is less than 2 years old, repair it. If more than 4 years old, replace it; you'll likely get more advanced technology and cool stuff at a (relatively) cheaper price. If your gadget is somewhere in the middle (say between 2 and 4 years), replace it if the repair cost is more than half the replacement cost.
Deals you may like:
Samsung S5830L Galaxy Ace Unlocked Phone, $242 (reg. $349)
Canon PowerShot SX130IS 12.1 MP Digital Camera
, $150 (reg. $229)
Samsung UN32EH4000 32-Inch 720p 60 Hz LED HDTV
, $350 (reg. $419)
Toshiba Satellite 15.6-Inch Laptop
, $370 (reg. $470)
and Audio Systems
If the device is less than 4 years old, repair it. If more than 7 years old, replace it. For the middle years, replace it if the repair cost is more than half the replacement cost.
The takeaway on these guidelines? If you really like what you have and don't want to send it packing, spend the money on repairs, on the premise that this breakdown (like a broken drive belt or sequential timer) was a one-off
incident. If it appears that the breakdown is the start of something bad/worse, employ the replace if more than 50% to repair
Deals you may like:
LG WM3455HS Silver Washer/Dryer Combo
, $1,399 (reg. $1,999)
Amana 25 CF Refrigerator
, $899 (reg. $1099)
Whirlpool Upright Manual Defrost Freezer
, $543 (Reg. $724)
Sony BRAVIA DAV-DZ170 Home Theater System
, $199 (reg. $250)
, clothes washer
, and the like may have an opportunity loss
-- if you can't get it repaired pronto, you may be out of a home-based job, or you may have rapidly spoiling milk and thawing food on your hands. When there's no backup to these appliances (neighbor, spare computer, or the local washateria), you've got to move quickly. Also, for example, will your washer or dryer operate just fine with only half of the 8 or 10 wash or dry cycles? In that case, move on until something more calamitous occurs.
Ensure that the stated price of the article reflects what the thing is actually going to end up costing and that delivery and disposal are included. Additionally, be sure that the appliance to be removed can actually be
removed. I have seen an instance when a framing enclosure was added around a refrigerator; when it had to be replaced, the extensive surround required (expensive) removal.
Many times, an on-sale $399 computer
ends up costing -- after store "setup", adding increased memory, etc. -- perhaps twice the advertised cost. Make certain the final cost and warranty provisions are clear. Should you get a computer virus, for example, it's typically not covered; only hardware is. When the warranty gets close to the expiration date, can you purchase an extension?
Deals you may like:
Gateway ZX6900-49 23-Inch All-in-One Desktop
, $850 (reg. $1000)
HP TouchSmart 520-1050 Desktop Computer
, $999 (reg. $1,099)
HP Pavilion dm1-4142nr Entertainment PC 11.6-Inch Laptop
, $400 (reg. $500)
Apple MacBook Air MC965LL/A 13.3-Inch Laptop
, $1210 (reg. $1299)
Energy-saving features on major appliances are important. If the item is Energy Star-certified, you'll save some on your utility bills; if power costs you less at night, opt for a washer or dryer that has a delayed start
option. Over time, you'll save money.
The more complicated a machine is, the more that can go wrong, and the more it will cost to repair; do you really need 8 wash cycles or 6 dryer cycles to get your clothes clean? To minimize cost, get the least you need to do the job.
Can you accomplish some of the repairs yourself? The biggest cost component of a service call is usually the labor -- if you can change a drive belt or a lint filter yourself, find an appliance that makes it easy to do so. Preventive maintenance, by you or a service rep, may pay dividends in the long run.
One more thing about repair services. There are 3 general types: factory repairs by the manufacturer, authorized repairs by a contractor who likely has undergone factory training, and independent repairmen who may not be much more than a handyman with a pickup truck. Know what you're getting.
Repair or replace -- it boils down to how long you've had the item, how much a repair will be versus the cost of a new gadget, and how badly you need to keep the item in service.
If you have horror stories, or atta-boy
compliments about a repair or replace issue, leave a comment.