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Appliances - Repair or Replace?
Old 10-27-2018, 08:20 AM   #1
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Appliances - Repair or Replace?

The specific question is about a built in dishwasher, but feel free to bring up any household kitchen appliance. Gone are the days when a service call was $25, and the hourly labor was $35. And gone is the price of $349 that we paid when I bought and installed our dishwasher in 2004, when we bought our home.

A quick look shows new dishwashers range from about $400 to $1,000, and the major outlets don't offer a "fixed" install cost, and just suggest outside installers.

So how much does it cost to install? From $150 to $475... and more. Average $300.

The dishwasher fills, then leaks. I can't do the uninstall and fix and reinstall any more. Lowest total cost to buy,deliver, install and remove looks to be about $800 and as much as $1,000.

Just the two of us, and probably just here for another 3 years. We don't entertain, so no more big meals. Less time to hand wash and dry, than to use the Dishwasher. Probably no effect on the resale value of the home, and by then I won't care.

So... what do you do when an over-the-counter microwave, refrigerator, washer, dryer or airconditioner/furnace fails? Repair or replace? or Spend that $75 to $100 to get an estimate.

The big "IF"... you can't do it yourself.

Ah me... Life is hard, and then you die.
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Old 10-27-2018, 09:35 AM   #2
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New dishwashers are very poor at washing dishes. Some of the problem is water conservation regulations, and some is phosphate removal from detergents. I would fix it if it is a pre-regulation change unit if I could.

You should try Lowes or Home Depot. I can get a serviceable unit for under $400 on sale and installation runs around $150 in HCOL Silicon Valley. If you have a good local discounter, try them. Black Friday is usually the cheapest time to buy.

Sadly, the life of a dishwasher seems to be around five years for my rentals. Poor design and quality plus very hard water has shortened the life of my dishwashers.

ETA: YouTube is your friend. A leak should be easier than a circuit board or motor failure.
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Old 10-27-2018, 09:53 AM   #3
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Being able to change it out yourself or not, plays a part in the decision. As you point out, no real need for the dishwasher. You can get by without it. Something like a clothes washer or dryer would need to be replaced/fixed as that is hard to get by without. I think you can get a lower end dishwasher for not a lot more than the $349, if you wait until early Nov and check out the Black Friday appliance sales. That is when best deals are for the year on appliances, along with rebates which can sweeten the deal. Look for a lower end model without all the extra stuff you don't need. Figure out if the installed price is something you can handle.


I think having working dishwasher is a nice thing, and will help for selling the house. Although as you pointed out, may not concern you at that time.


I am pretty good for repairing stuff, so I generally try to figure out what is broken and then make a decision to repair vs replace. Buying appliance repair parts mail order can save a tremendous amount, they have incredible markup at the local level. But then there is potential delay and can that delay cause difficulties. I realize that doesn't help you answer the question for your situation though.


If your dishwasher works, but just leaks, it could be a simple fix. Can you try to determine where the leak is? Door seal, pump, discharge hose? If it leaks underneath, you can pull it out, usually a couple screws at the top and you can slide it out. Then tip it to see if the leak location is obvious? Should be enough hose lengths to get it out from under countertop. That is not too hard, and I know from previous you have done car repairs, so this should be within your ability, even now as age and flexibility is making that tougher.



Overall it seems that replacement can be a good choice if an appliance is older. Things are not made to be repaired and keep going as much anymore. Made to a price point rather than a quality or reliability point.
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Old 10-27-2018, 09:55 AM   #4
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One caveat with a built in dishwasher. It may be hard wired in, and the installer refuses to hook it up. That happened to me. The installer said I needed am electrician, and I told him I was an electrician,
Turned off the breaker, unhooked the three wires, had the new dishwasher installed. Hooked up the 3 wires and they finished the install.
Both the old and new ones were GE, and the connections were in the exact same place. (whew)
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Old 10-27-2018, 09:58 AM   #5
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We try to repair if the cost is less than 50% of a new appliance. Otherwise we buy new and very good quality. Not sure I would wait on a leaking dishwasher however as that might cause damage
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Old 10-27-2018, 10:19 AM   #6
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My new GE energy efficient water saving dishwasher is very good at washing dishes, much better than what it replaced. It does take longer though.

It cost $500 and I think they are installed for less than $100. I did mine (twice as I removed it during the kitchen redo) and I wouldn't live w/o a dishwasher.

I never fix, always replace.
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Old 10-27-2018, 11:10 AM   #7
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Our 20yr old Maytag dishwasher recently quit. Took off the lower panel and found a broken belt. Ordered a new one off eBay. New belt was a little smaller and could not get it on. Poured hot water of the new belt and was able to get it on. Working fine so far but I know there is a new dishwasher in our future. When that day comes I will install it.
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Old 10-27-2018, 11:23 AM   #8
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Appliances are now disposable. Some can't even be taken apart to repair even by the factory authorized repair shops. If its older (built like a tank) and repairable, I'd repair it because "they don't make them like that any more". If its newer, replace it (and budget to replace your replacement in a couple of years)
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Old 10-27-2018, 11:27 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
So... what do you do when an over-the-counter microwave, refrigerator, washer, dryer or airconditioner/furnace fails? Repair or replace? or Spend that $75 to $100 to get an estimate.

The big "IF"... you can't do it yourself.
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Appliances are now disposable.
+1 Personally, I just replace almost all of those things when they break, instead of repairing. They almost never break so for me it hasn't been remarkably expensive to do this.

The one exception is AC (which is much more expensive and a Big Deal in New Orleans). Like most people here I have an AC guy that I call every now and then to check and maintain my central AC system, and I would call him if it should die. I let him decide on repairing or replacing, and let him do what he suggests.
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Old 10-27-2018, 11:42 AM   #10
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I'm in the replace camp. But if I had a built in, I'd just leave it and hand wash. When time comes to sell, discount sale price accordingly and let the buyer(s) get the machine they want.
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Old 10-27-2018, 12:09 PM   #11
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We went to sears scratch and dent center and got a discontinued dishwasher in the box for 300. 100 to install. We replace.
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Old 10-27-2018, 12:16 PM   #12
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Our house had one of the $250 General Electric builder grade dishwashers and it washed just fine. But when it had a minor problem, we chose to dump it and buy a Bosch unit on a deep discount at Sears. The Bosch dishwashers are simply in a class of their own--so quiet and they clean so well.

When we moved in our new house, we dumped the 18 year old Frigidare and bought another Bosch. Lowes received a rebate from Bosch for $125 which is what it cost to have it installed. But the installer refused to hook up the wiring saying "he is not an electrician." Duh!

For a normal customer, an installed dishwasher with no electricity would be a bummer. But I come from a long line of IBEW electricians, and hooking up 3 wires is a 5 minute job. Most customers would have to pay $125 to have an electrician come in.

Most modern dishwashers use very little water, however they have to wash 2 hours to get the dishes clean. They use chemicals (silicones) to shed the water off the dishes and the heat in the dishes (from hot water) dries them. You need to leave the dishes in the dishwasher until they cool off--to get them somewhat dry. Many of the popular brand dishwashers like LG and Samsung are simply junk and will cause problems. That's why we stick with Bosch.
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Old 10-27-2018, 12:24 PM   #13
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We installed a Bosch dishwasher and it has been very good for us, always gets the dishes clean and no problems over the 5 years we have had it. It was more expensive than most others but I think worth it. I cannot imagine living without a D/W. It helps keep the kitchen tidy and bug free.

As to other appliances - I have repaired our stove twice in the 5 years we have had it, both times it was the same part (the oven igniter) and I have repaired our refrig twice (the condenser drain plugged up, and ice maker broke) in 5 years. But those are expensive appliances so I would not just replace them.

If the microwave were to break, I think we would just replace it. It is cheap and we don't microwave a lot.

Quality in modern appliances is really bad.
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Old 10-27-2018, 12:54 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
So... what do you do when an over-the-counter microwave, refrigerator, washer, dryer or airconditioner/furnace fails? Repair or replace? or Spend that $75 to $100 to get an estimate.
I'm still able to do the repairs, so I almost always give it a shot. Many times it is something easy to diagnose and repair (e.g. a hose leaking at the clamp). I did replace the motor/pump in our dishwasher a few years ago, and it was a lot easier than I would have guessed (thanks, YouTube!)
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Just the two of us, and probably just here for another 3 years. We don't entertain, so no more big meals. Less time to hand wash and dry, than to use the Dishwasher.
Is it practical for you to do a quick check to see where the leak is coming from? That usually means:
1) Turning off the circuit breaker to the DW
2) Opening the DW door and identifying the two "anti-tipover" tabs screwed to the bottom of the countertop.
3) Removing the screws holding the tabs to the countertop
4) Scooting the dishwasher out (look behind it as you do to be sure you don't pull the power cord or any hoses loose)
5) Look where the dishwasher was and try to see where it was dripping.
6) With a flashlight and looking under the dishwasher from both sides, see if the spot were it has been leaking is evident.
7) If still no clues, turn on the breaker and run the dishwasher to see where the water is coming from.

Just knowing the source of the leak might be enough to determine if it is worth a service call, or if it isn't worth fixing.

If the cost will be significant, I'd probably be tempted to just go without the DW. It will become a handy large drying rack for handwashing dishes.

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The one exception is AC (which is much more expensive and a Big Deal in New Orleans). Like most people here I have an AC guy that I call every now and then to check and maintain my central AC system, and I would call him if it should die. I let him decide on repairing or replacing, and let him do what he suggests.
Just to mention it: If I lived in NO, Houston, FL, etc, I'm pretty sure I'd buy a >small< (5K-6K BTU) window AC unit for emergencies. They can be had for about $120 and will keep a typical bedroom cool and comfortable, and will even help a lot with a large room (they'll take a lot of moisture out of the air, which is very nice). Unlike the monster big units, they can plug into any 110 VAC outlet, and it only takes a few minutes to move from the LR (day) to the BR (night). So, if the central AC dies, it would be an "inconvenience," not a "crisis." Even a great AC repair shop might take a day or two to get the right part.
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Old 10-27-2018, 02:09 PM   #15
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We had a leak in our dishwasher a few years ago (discovered as a waterfall on the outside wall in the basement) and called a repairman. What a mistake! The cost of the part was minor, but the service call was more than half the price of a new machine. Now, the thing is just wearing out and I'm shopping for a new one anyway.
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Old 10-27-2018, 02:17 PM   #16
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We had a leak in our dishwasher a few years ago (discovered as a waterfall on the outside wall in the basement) and called a repairman. What a mistake! The cost of the part was minor, but the service call was more than half the price of a new machine. Now, the thing is just wearing out and I'm shopping for a new one anyway.
If I canít fix it my self, then replace is probably the better option due to the experience shared above. Repair labor can be very expensive and typically a fixed cost just to come out. I donít begrudge them payment for their services, but if I can avoid it, I will. Otherwise, the only reason to repair is itís a pretty new machine that just happened to have something simple go bad. For a dishwasher, after 5 years, Iím probably going to replace.

In this case, Iíd probably just wash dishes by hand if I didnít want to spend about $500 to get a basic dishwasher installed.
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Old 10-27-2018, 02:21 PM   #17
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I always replace appliance if it is more than 5 year old. Recurring repair generally follows.
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Old 10-27-2018, 02:23 PM   #18
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I'm getting to the point where I cannot do the repairs even when I know how because of back/shoulder/knee joint issues. If the appliance is relatively new (<4 years) I'll get an estimate on repairs or just talk to the repair guy on the phone to get an idea. If it's going to cost more than half the cost of a new one I'll replace it. We replaced the washing machine at age 14 when it started making some ugly grinding noises.
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Old 10-27-2018, 03:04 PM   #19
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I can't repair much unless it is super easy and obvious. Therefore I replace.
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Old 10-27-2018, 03:04 PM   #20
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Just to mention it: If I lived in NO, Houston, FL, etc, I'm pretty sure I'd buy a >small< (5K-6K BTU) window AC unit for emergencies. They can be had for about $120 and will keep a typical bedroom cool and comfortable, and will even help a lot with a large room (they'll take a lot of moisture out of the air, which is very nice). Unlike the monster big units, they can plug into any 110 VAC outlet, and it only takes a few minutes to move from the LR (day) to the BR (night). So, if the central AC dies, it would be an "inconvenience," not a "crisis." Even a great AC repair shop might take a day or two to get the right part.
I did that back in 1985 in Texas when our AC completely bit the dust, my late ex was working offshore of South Africa and incommunicado, we had an agreement that neither of us would buy anything for over $50-$100 without making the decision together, and we had exotic pets that would have died from the heat. I bought a small window unit for less than that at Sears. I installed it in the Master bedroom myself, using Styrofoam around the edges. Then my daughter, and I, and the pets, all stayed in that one room until my late ex returned. What an adventure. :lol:

But here in New Orleans, in 2018, buying a window AC for emergencies would be a waste of money. AC guys understand that a broken AC can be a genuine emergency to some folks. My AC guys are very good. When my AC broke in 2016, they managed to get someone out here to evaluate the situation within an hour. After discovering that it was toast, they got a new one installed in just a day or so.

I really wasn't worried about timing because the thing broke in late June and it was September before I caved in and called them. I may have mentioned here from time to time about having severe tightwad tendencies and a stubborn personality.

Turned out it only cost $7,200 to replace everything but the ducts, even though it was during the hottest part of summer. My new Trane system is the best AC I have ever had in New Orleans. Sometimes if I don't watch where the thermostat is set, I get cold even in the worst part of summer! F liked it so much that he got the same company to put a new Trane system in his house, too. Both had 20-30 year old systems so it was time.
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