Any — and all — appliances in the home can break, from washers and dryers to all the appliances in your kitchen. Many homeowners will eventually be faced with the decision to either repair or replace a failing minor or major appliance. Appliance repair service professionals and technicians can bring washers, dryers, refrigerators, ovens, stoves, dishwashers, garbage disposals, microwaves, air conditioners and other household appliances back into working order, whether it's fixing a leaky hose, replacing a broken belt, replacing an ice maker in an otherwise functional refrigerator or quieting a strange banging sound. Repair costs often vary depending on brand, the appliance that needs to be repaired, and the parts needed. Repairing an appliance instead of replacing it outright can also save you money.
The age and accessibility of the appliance may also affect the costs for repair. In general, the average cost for having a large appliance fixed ranges from $100 to $300.
Hourly rate and labor charge
Some appliance repair professionals charge flat rates for certain projects. If the job will take less than an hour to complete, such as defrosting a refrigerator, the charge is likely to be a flat fee. However, because each job is unique, most pros charge an hourly rate for their services. Some vary their rates based on the complexity, relative danger or intensity of the work. For example, Greg Mr. Fix It in Greensboro, North Carolina, charges $75 per hour for standard appliance repair and up to $85 per hour for more complex repairs, jobs that require accessing challenging locations and so on. Expect hourly rates to range between $100 and $200, on average, regardless of the type of repair job.
Minimum service fee
Some appliance repair pros charge a minimum fee to cover the costs of arriving onsite and diagnosing a problem. Depending on the pro, the minimum fee may include a set amount of work or it may solely cover the diagnosis. Greg Mr. Fix It charges a minimum fee of $65, which covers his diagnosis, up to 1.5 hours of travel from his location and an estimate to repair the appliance. He does not charge an additional service fee if he has to return to the same location to continue work on another day. Ask your repair person for an estimate, including the service fee, before they start any work. For more, check out our tips for smart hiring.
The parts required for a repair may also affect the total cost of services. Greg Mr. Fix It says that 98 percent of the time his customers need a new part to get their appliance running again. The cost of parts varies depending on the part, the type of appliance and the brand.
Gas or electric
In general, gas-powered appliances, including heaters, stoves, fireplaces and refrigerators, are more expensive to fix than electrical appliances. Repairing them is typically riskier; incorrect repairs can lead to carbon monoxide leaks or even fire.
Type of appliance
Different appliances require different amounts of time to repair and, therefore, cost more or less for labor.
Refrigerators and freezers are an essential kitchen appliance, so some service providers even offer emergency services. The average cost of fixing a refrigerator is $200-$400, including between two to three hours of labor plus replacement parts. Fixing a washing machine is likely to cost between $120 and $500, on average, depending on the problem. Fixing a dryer may cost between $100 and $400, on average. Fixing the oven range is another common repair, which usually ranges between $50 and $100, on average.
Greg Mr. Fix It says dryers are typically easier to fix than washing machines, but dishwasher repairs tend to be the most labor-intensive. Here are the prices Greg Mr. Fix It charges to repair various standard home appliances. Prices include parts, labor and his $65 service fee:
- Dryers: $180
- The faulty part is often the belt or element. Common problems also include failing to drain, leaking, underfilling or clogged drains that lead to standing water. A repairman can also fix mechanical failures, such as a failing agitator.
- Washing machines: $180-$400
- The faulty part is often the water pump or transmission.
- Refrigerators: $180-$400
- The faulty part is often the evaporator, fan motor, the element or the timer.
- Fridges with issues related to touch screens, control boards or other computerized components cost $600-$700 for repairs.
Questions to ask
Before hiring any contractor, ask questions to make sure the service provider is the right person for your job. Start with these questions:
- Will you share information, such as reviews, from previous clients?
- Do you accept credit cards?
- Are you licensed and insured in case of damage or if someone gets hurt? For more, check out our tips for smart hiring.
- Do you pay for damage incurred while doing the repair?
- Do you provide a written guarantee?
Repair versus replace
Honest repair professionals will let you know when it's worthwhile to repair an appliance rather than replace it with a brand new one. Generally, a refrigerator that's 8 years or older should just be replaced. Similarly, if repairing an appliance costs at least half of what it would cost to purchase a new one, it's often smart to just replace the appliance. And if the appliance has broken more than once, it's probably more cost-effective to buy a new one than to continue to repair it; you may end up spending more on fixing the old appliance than you would if you'd bought a replacement.
According to Greg Mr. Fix It, a $2,000 stainless steel, top-of-the line refrigerator may be worth a $600 repair, but spending $200 to repair a dryer that could be bought new for $300 isn't worth the money. It's more cost-effective to just to buy new. Be sure to ask what your options are and consider how old the appliance currently is.
Pro tips for long appliance life:
- For a long-lasting fridge, clean the condenser out. It's usually under the fridge. Keep it clean by regularly blowing out the dust that accumulates under there. When the condenser is blocked, the fridge can't properly breathe and can overheat. Be sure to avoid overstocking the fridge or freezer, which can block the vents and fans, causing the fridge to work too hard and overheat. Little steps like these can prolong your appliance's life.
- To prolong your dryer's life, make sure the vents are clean. If they're blocked, clothes won't dry fast enough and the element can overheat and burn out. Get a professional to clean out your vents every two or three years — and always clean your lint catcher.
- Check the warranty before you call in a repairman. If the appliance is under warranty, the manufacturer should pay to have it fixed or even replaced. Consider springing for an extended warranty when you replace your refrigerator, oven range, or washing machine or dryer. The cost of the warranty is almost always less than the cost of having a large appliance fixed.