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Is it better to repair or replace your broken appliances?

August 29, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
In a troubled economy, you don't need trouble with your appliances, too. A new Consumer Reports survey reveals certain appliances and brands that are more likely to break.

Repairman Anthony Attanasio tells clients when an appliance breaks down, don't just rush out to buy a new one. A simple repair may do.

But it isn't always easy to know when to repair something. Consumer Reports National Research Center surveyed more than 27,000 subscribers who had repair problems, including appliances, to find out if you should repair or replace it.

"While most of the products we asked about don't break too easily, when things do go wrong, they can go horribly wrong," said Consumer Reports' Dan Diclerico.

Consumer Reports found with 3- to 4-year-old appliances, one of the most repair-prone is a side-by-side refrigerator with an icemaker. One in three had repairs.

Front-loading washing machines were also more likely than top-loaders to break down. One in four needed repairs.

Consumer Reports found you can't go by brand alone, either. GE has made very reliable cooking appliances, but its refrigerators with icemakers are repair-prone. LG has made reliable plasma TVs and clothes dryers, but not side-by-side refrigerators.

"If you're trying to safeguard against your appliances breaking down, an extended warranty may sound like a good solution. But in our experiences, they have generally not been worth it," said Diclerico.

So when should you repair, and when should you replace?

"It depends on the product and how old it is. But here's a rule of thumb: if the repair will cost more than half the price of a new product, it's time to replace it," advised Diclerico.

Consumer Reports says one way to help stave off repairs is to keep your appliances in good shape. If your home has hard or sediment-filled water, using a whole-house water softener or water filter can help keep your dishwasher and your refrigerator's icemaker stay in good working order.

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