The Mindful Merchant

Shop – Eat – Live – Mindfully

Kenny – Fix it or Nix it? March 8, 2010

Filed under: eco-friendly,reduce energy consumption,shopping — MindfulMerchant @ 12:21 am


Are you trying to keep a major appliance alive in your home? Our five-year-old dishwasher is giving us a hard time. These days when I load it Kenny Rogers starts singing in my head.  It is too young to be on its last legs but every time I press the start button it is a gamble.  Fingers crossed it chooses to clean something.  “You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em”.  Perhaps it is the economy, green consciousness, frugality, or poor manufacturing but a surprising number of my friends and family now have the appliance repair company’s phone number posted on the fridge. How do you know when to stop repairing and say goodbye?

According to Consumer Reports and Bill the repairperson, if an appliance is eight years old or more usually it is best to replace.  Boy, eight years seems like a short lifespan doesn’t it?   If you have a high end model that you love you might want to fix it but consider replacing a newer repair prone dud. Consumer Reports suggests it is best not to fix if repairs cost more than half the price of a new appliance.  (not always possible though)

I found a neat website Consumer Reports Green Buying Guide to help chose reliable, energy efficient, eco-friendly appliances. There is a “get the most value” section, green living guides and other helpful tips to save you money and energy. It might help with decision-making.

If you are planning a big appliance purchase, you might want to consider…

  • Many major retailers will remove the old appliance for recycling or repurposing so check before buying.
  • If they are in good condition, think about donating to a non-profit organization.
  • is a comprehensive recycling location database with U.S. State by State guidelines.
  • Most Canadian municipalities have appliance-recycling programs. The Natural Resources Canada website suggests contacting your local municipality or the yellow pages for collection information.

In the meantime, I continue to coddle our dishwasher…hoping we won’t have to fold ‘em for a long time.





11 Responses to “Kenny – Fix it or Nix it?”

  1. Finola Says:

    Great post!
    It is absolutely time that the environmental groups start targeting the appliance industry. We just bought a new washer and dryer that the salesperson at Sears told us was “designed” to fail in ten years. My mother ran her first dryer for 40 years before it finally gave up. AND she had bought it second hand to begin with.
    Also, we have spent about $800 repairing our three-year-old stove due to a design flaw on the surface. It was an expensive stove, so we didn’t replace it, but if the same thing happens again, then we would probably just get rid of it. It’s so wasteful.
    The warranties are terrible too. If you spend a couple of thousand dollars on an item, it should be covered for more than one year without having to pay for the extended warranty!

    • Seems strange that with all the technological advances appliances are more energy efficient, yet have a shorter lifespan.

      • John Says:

        Planned obsolescence is pretty evil. You can kinda see it in something like a computer or cell phone where the technology really is significantly improving all the time – but other than efficiency improvements (which manufacturers don’t often invest in heavily anyhow), things like dryer and dishwasher technology don’t change all that often.

        If only this industry started making items that were repairable, and even upgradable. Why throw away that whole container or drum in a washing machine when you could swap out other components for performance improvement.

        Maybe one day when all the human race grows up.

  2. XUP Says:

    Like Finola says, I too had my first washer and dryer for about 15 years and they were second hand and they were still working perfectly well – I sold them to the person moving in to our place when we moved to Halifax. We were in Circuit City on the weekend and they laughed and scoffed at my daughter’s ancient cell phone — which we just bought last spring! I really dislike having to replace stuff every year or so because it’s not meant to last any longer and there is no one to repair stuff any more. I remember my parents would take our toaster in every couple of years for a tune-up. Now they’d kill themselves laughing if you brought a toaster in for repairs.

    • I can’t keep up with cell phones and new tech gadgets. My cell phone doesn’t have a camera it’s so “ancient”. (gasp!) I wonder if some people still try to get small appliances fixed?

  3. Pauline Says:

    There is also the Great Refrigerator roundup

    Capital Junk:

    Both are located in Ottawa and recycle old appliances.:)

  4. Urban Girl Says:

    Hi Laura! I’ve had that type of decision with two of my appliances so far and wondering about a third. All the appliances I have with the house are older models (nineties? earlier?) and when I moved in I had to buy a couple of new elements in my stove (probably cost me about $80) to get it to continue to work (both inside and stove top) and it lasted for two years after that. Then it bit the dust.

    And now that I have a new stove should I consider the fridge… what always makes me stop and think twice are: such a large appliance ending up in the landfill and all those resources and energy to produce a new one.

    Washer/dryer same thing – when the dryer broke down i thought – do I just buy two new appliances (again for aesthetics and resale value of the house if we ever move) and get rid of the old ones (but the washer still works?) or do I spend around $200 to fix the current dryer…

    thanks for opening up this debate – there are always so many things to weight when you make these decisions…

  5. ricky Says:

    I’m reading this post from my I-Phone and it looks great! I like your writing style and you make some excellent points about this subject.

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