You use your appliances every day but don’t think about what you’ll do if they stop working. Buying them was a big investment. If they break down, do you shell out your hard-earned cash for a new unit or pay a pro to do a repair? Sam Brown of Brown’s Appliance Repair Service in Winston Salem, North Carolina shares his expert advice on when to repair and when to replace when it comes to your general appliances.
What is the appliance that most commonly breaks?
Washers and dryers top the list, but refrigerators are right up there. The most common problems with washers are they will not start, they will not drain, or they are leaking. With dryers it’s no heat, they’re noisy, or they just won’t start. As for fridges, I get calls when they’re not cooling properly, they’re leaking, or there are ice problems.
How much is the average appliance repair?
It will all depend on what part of the country you live in and what type of company you’re working with. I’m a one man shop, I’m mobile, I come to you. Brick and mortar businesses have more overhead and may cost more. On average, my repair calls are $100 – $200. But it all depends on what’s going on with the unit and if parts are needed. I always advise the customer if they should replace or repair.
When is it smarter to replace than repair?
Everything is price driven. What impacts the decision is the age of the unit, the brand of the unit, and what repair and parts are needed. The bottom line is common sense.
A reasonable dishwasher repair might range from $200 to $250. Over that, you should consider how much you spent on the unit and how old it is, because you can get a decent dishwasher for $350 to $400, not installed. To install a dishwasher, I charge on average $100 to $150. $100 for a straightforward install, up to $150 if they want me to pick it up from the dealer and bring it to their home also.
For microwaves, if you’ve got more than 5 years with a microwave you’re better off replacing it. If it’s newer or a nice unit you may consider repairing, but even then don’t spend more than $150. One uncommon example was a customer with a high-end unit that was an incorporated microwave and oven. They’d spent $1,600 total on the unit, so it made sense to them to spend $350 on the microwave repair to keep the entire unit functioning together.
If you have a fridge compressor issue and the unit is over 10 years old, replace it. Think about the original cost of the appliance if the repair will be more than $150 to $250. Now if you have a $1,500 fridge and the repair is $300, that’s more worthwhile. Right now I’m seeing a lot of Samsung fridges having drum issues. That’s a $450 to $500 repair, so it’s way more cost effective to just replace the unit. The parts alone for that repair are nearly $400 and then I have to take the entire inside out.
What’s the best way to prevent appliance problems before they start?
Keep the condenser coils on your fridge clean. Some are in back and some in front underneath. Vacuum them out with a wand attachment on your vacuum. Over time that will save you. If you don’t clean them you can prematurely blow your compressor.
With your washers and dryers, when you hear any strange noises—get them looked at right away. Don’t wait for for the problem to progress. As it gets louder, it costs more to fix.
Microwaves are push and play, there’s really no maintenance involved. When something happens it happens.
Any advice for new customers?
Be prepared with the model number and make of your unit and include it in your request or call for repairs. That helps us understand what we need to be prepared to fix the problem and give you a more accurate quote on repair cost.
A lot of my repairs are done on the initial visit, because that first phone call I’m trouble shooting while I’m talking to you. A lot of problems I see on a weekly or monthly basis and can handle that first visit if I’m prepared with the right parts. That said, you’re paying us repair professionals to fix a problem. You’re paying for the expertise of the pro. That’s why we have service call fees. We need to cover our costs of transportation, time, and knowledge. We can’t stay in business if we provide our services for free. Just like you pay a doctor to diagnose your illness and suggest a solution, we diagnosis what’s wrong with your appliances and get them working again.
Read more from our “Repair or Replace?” series here.