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An old microwave: fix it or toss it?

Appliance Life Expectancy


This summer, when I was visiting my parents, my mom was having our kitchen renovated. One Thursday, repairmen ripped out our stove cooktop, oven, and dishwasher -- appliances that we'd had since before I was born. As we watched, my dad said, "Doesn't this remind you of the scene in the Brave Little Toaster when the faithful appliances get sent to the junkyard and crushed?" And I'm not going to lie -- in that moment, I did feel kind of sad for our trusty old appliances.

Emotional concerns aside, it can be hard to decide whether to bring in the repairman to fix your ailing refrigerator or to toss it and buy a new one. Luckily, the new Study of Life Expectancy of Home Components will help you make your decision. It will tell you the life expectancy of big-ticket items such as refrigerators and washing machines, as well as cabinets, countertops, decks, doors, heating systems, panels, roofing, and skylights, among other things. It turns out that gas stoves have the longest appliance life expectancy — 15 years — while dishwashers and microwave ovens had some of the shortest — 9 years. Dryers and refrigerators clocked in at 13 years. So if your appliance is getting close to its life expectancy, you might want to throw it away and invest in a new one instead of spending the money to fix it.

You can download the study at TreeHugger.com. TreeHugger also points out that if your appliance is nearing the end of its life expectancy, it's probably more environmentally friendly to throw it out and invest in a new one than to try to repair it, since new appliances are usually more energy efficient.

What do you think? Do you keep your appliances running until they sputter and die? Or would you invest in a new one because of efficiency concerns, or even because of aesthetics, before your old one stops working?


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Old Refrigerator

10/25/2010 11:46 AM lordcobra

I have an older refrigerator and I have thought about replacing it before it dies. However, before doing it I decided to get a Kill-A-Watt device and monitor how much power it uses.

I found that newer fridges are not that much more efficient and it would take years and years to recoup the cost of the new unit through electricity savings.

I decided that I wasn't going to replace it until it dies.

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How much energy does it take to

10/25/2010 03:43 PM Handyman

recoup the energy in building the new appliance? not just that what about the materials used in that old appliance. will the metal be recycled. what about the components?

You can't just throw it away.

Why not send it to Freecycle or sell it on Craigs List.


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Appliance Life Expectancy

11/03/2010 09:31 AM casemedia

Emily, you’re right, no appliance lasts forever. However, like Greg, I agree that if you are replacing appliances as part of a kitchen renovation, but they still work, consider donating them. Organizations like Habitat for Humanity and Green Demolitions sell donated items and use the money for a good cause. Even better, it keeps still useful appliances out of landfills and in use.

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