Appliances: They Don’t Make ’em Like They Used To.
December 6, 2010
Higher Price, Shorter Life.
Is it just my bad luck, or does it seem like home appliances aren't built that well anymore? We remodeled our home back in 2000, so I have an easy time-line to measure the life of all of those expensive new appliances that we put into the house. In the span of 10 years, this is what we have had to repair or replace:
- Refrigerator (replaced).
- Dishwasher (replaced).
- Clothes dryer (repaired and finally replaced).
- Microwave (repaired and replaced).
- Double Oven (repaired twice, and is now on its death-bed).
What's left? Only the clothes washer and gas cooktop! And the latter doesn't have any moving parts, so you'd think it should last a few years. Granted, with a family of 5, we use our appliances quite a bit. But we didn't buy crap when we remodeled — we went for high-end GE, Whirlpool, KitchenAid, Thermador… Not Bosch or Sub-Zero mind you, but still expensive stuff. So what's going on?
Workhorses of the Past.
I see a lot of houses in my travels, and I'm constantly amazed at the number of old workhorse appliances that are still chugging along. Some are even 50-60 years old…. or more! They are ugly as sin, but they still work. I still remember the old oven in my parent's home that got a TON of use, and was still working fine after 20+ years. So why is the new stuff breaking down so quickly?
From my discussions with a few appliance repairmen (and I've gotten to know them pretty well lately), there are two factors — first, appliance are indeed made more cheaply. What was once made of metal is now cheap plastic, and plastic stuff breaks much easier. Second, appliances are getting much more complex. My dishwasher had to be replaced because the computer module failed. Since when did a dishwasher need a computer??? Just wash the stinkin' dishes already! How complicated does that have to be?
Get An Extended Warranty.
I guess the moral of this rant is that it pays to get an extended warranty for your more expensive appliances (you can probably pass on the microwave, because the warranty costs about as much as the unit). The first repair appointment essentially pays for most, if not all, of the cost of the warranty.
And if your luck with appliances is anything like mine, you will have that first repair appointment…because they truly don't make 'em like they used to.