We depend on home appliances. They fill our kitchens, laundry rooms and garages. Since it's hard to live without them, here's a guide to determine if an appliance should be replaced or repaired:
• Age: Most washers, refrigerators, dryers and stoves have a 10- to 15-year life. If your home appliance is less than 10 years old, paying for a repair may be a good investment, says Mike Kozlowski, an appliance expert at Sears.
• Cost: A repair should not cost more that 50 percent to 60 percent of the price of a new appliance. The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers suggests getting a repair estimate that includes parts, labor and other fees. Also test the outlets and fuses in your home; the appliance may not be faulty.
• Calculate total replacement costs: Don't stop with price tags when comparing replacement vs. repair. Consider installation, delivery and other charges.
• Include ''wild-card'' factors: How will a replacement match or complement existing fixtures in your kitchen or laundry room? If your kitchen appliances are all stainless steel, it's better to purchase a matching replacement when shopping for a new dishwasher, oven or a refrigerator. If the right match -- in look, fit and feel -- is difficult to find, the repair option might be wiser. Mismatched appliances typically lower the resale value of a home, Kozlowski says.
• Compare energy savings: New products may use up to 70 percent less energy than older models. Therefore, lower energy bills could offset the cost of a replacement.
• Free advice: Appliance repair advice is available online at manageyourhome.com and at www.aham.org.
This is from my latest column in the Home & Design Section of the Miami Herald.
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