Sunday, August 16, 2009

The "repair vs. replace" decision

Last weekend, my dryer stopped working; I'd push the start button and nothing would happen. We checked the cord to make sure it was plugged in properly, the circuit breaker and all of the connections. Everything seemed to be in order.

We were then faced with the “repair vs. replace” decision. Several years ago, my husband repaired a used late 70's model dryer that went on to last ten more years. Encouraged by this experience and sensing there really wasn't anything seriously wrong with the dryer we decided to get it repaired.

The repairman initially found our dryer’s problem perplexing. He knew it wasn't taking in enough voltage, but couldn’t figure out why. He too checked all the connections, discovering the problem only after performing a diagnostic test. A couple of wires on the inside terminal block had come loose. Apparently, this happens over time. The cost to fix the wiring was $10. The cost for the diagnostic test was $79. Total cost with tax $94. It seemed a little high for a couple of loose wires, but my husband feels any repair bill under $100 isn’t too bad.

After he left my first thought was could we have fixed it ourselves? I played around on this site, but was unable to find the correct solution to the problem. Plus, if the repairman was perplexed, I doubt my hubby would have figured it out.

That was all great until this weekend. Our dryer now starts, but it no longer provides any heat. So, here we are again faced with the “repair vs. replace” decision. We received this dryer three years ago from my mother-in-law when she moved out of her home. No one knows for sure how old this dryer is, but estimate it’s at least 15 years old. We found the average life of a dryer to be 13 years on this site.

We called the repairman asking for his recommendation. He said the problem could be the element, the switch or the timer. Over the years he has seen two outcomes; he repairs the switch then two weeks later the timer goes. Or he repairs the switch and nothing else goes wrong for another 5 years. In our case, since we think the dryer is at least 15 years old he recommends buying a new dryer. He did suggest testing the dryer on a different dry cycle with an empty dryer.

Of course that didn’t work either. It looks like we wasted $94; hopefully we can make it up on a new more energy efficient dryer.

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  1. I recently replaced my 15 year old washer and dryer with a Whirlpool Cabrio high capacity model. At the risk of sounding like a 1950s housewife, I tell you - I couldn't be happier. I can do twice the laundry in one load which is great because I have tons of visitors at my lake house. I feel pretty put out by the end of the summer. The real clicker was when I realized that there is A LOT less dust in the house. On top of that, my electric bill was $32 less last month. Sold.

  2. Don't you just love house repairs. Nice blog and post.

  3. Heidi,
    Thanks for sharing your experience. I sent my husband to the appliance store with instructions to look for a Whirlpool Cabrio; he came home with a dented Maytag Bravos from the scratch & dent department. The customer service rep told him the majority of energy savings comes with the washer not the dryer. Since the clothes dryer, the second largest electricity-using appliance in the home comes with an automatic sensor I’m confident our electric bills will be reduced with that feature alone. Hopefully, the dent didn’t result in any problems; the dryer does come with a one year warranty.

    Thanks for stopping in; I too “love” home repair; there is nothing I enjoy more than using my emergency fund to pay for an actual emergency.