If you’re reading this article your washer is probably operating for now, but you’re wondering if it might be time to replace it. This can be a tough call, especially if your existing appliance is clicking along okay or may be in need of a minor repair. The question comes into play: Would I be better off to just replace the machine now?
Experts recommend this rule of thumb: If fixing the appliance costs 50 percent or more of the original purchase price then you should replace it. This is a helpful starting point, but there are other things to consider.
In weighing your decision, consider whether the machine is out of warranty. If you’re not sure about this, examine manuals, receipts and other documents that came with the washer; look through them to find warranty terms. If you can’t find the paperwork, go to manufacturer’s site or contact them directly.
If an appliance is still relatively new yet no longer covered under warranty and has broken down a lot, you may be better off getting rid of it.
Keep in mind that some credit cards offer an extended warranty on purchases. If you used your card to buy the washer, it might be worth looking into that possibility.
A new washer’s average life expectancy is 11 years. Consumer Reports recommends replacing any appliance that’s more than eight years old. This is because newer models are more efficient, so these washers save water and energy and clean your clothes better. The savings you’ll see from increased efficiency will help cover the cost of the new machine.
When repair makes sense
Of course there are times when you should repair a good machine rather than buy a new one. Many of the parts for washers –things like the, seals, pump, and the belts and pulleys can be fairly inexpensive to replace. You could potentially install those parts yourself. The trouble has to be diagnosed first, of course, and for most of us that means calling a repair service.
Another point to consider when there’s a breakdown is whether your washer has been involved in a manufacturer recall. Write down the model and serial number of your appliance, then check at www.recalls.gov for information on current recalls that might help determine what the problem is.
If you’ve decided it’s necessary to replace your washer, expect to spend around $1000, depending on the features you choose. Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re choosing the one that suits you best.
Some models of washer are designed to use less water and energy. Energy Star certified washers will use 10 to 50 percent less; this can represent considerable savings over time.
Top- or Front-Loading?
There are top-loading machines with or without an agitator. Agitator models cost less and are faster than top-loading washing machines without an agitator, known as high-efficiency (HE) washing machines. Most HE washers are better at cleaning, gentler on fabrics, use less water, and have larger capacities.
While they cost more, the best front-loaders clean better and are gentler than the best HE top-loading washing machines, and they also use less water. Front-loaders take longer to complete a cycle than HE top-loaders, but they spin faster, extracting more water and trimming dryer time.
Before you choose a new washer, measure your available space. The typical washer is 27 inches wide, but some with bigger capacities can be two or three inches. Measure the space you have to work with and allow at least 6 inches behind the washing machine for water hookups, and about an inch between the washer and dryer. And, if you have overhanging cabinets, be sure to measure the space between the cabinet and the washer.
It’s a good idea to measure the doors to your home to make sure a new washing machine can fit through them, too.
The size of the load that your washer will need to handle depends on your household size. It’s a personal decision. The largest home washers have a capacity of 6.2 cubic feet, and will hold 28 full-size bath towels. The smallest are 3.3 cubic feet and will hold 14 to 17 bath towels.
- Stainless steel tubs – these can handle faster spin cycles, which pull out more water and cut drying time.
- Automatic dispensers – These are designed to dispense detergent, bleach, and fabric softener at the right time in the wash cycle. Some washing machines can even hold up to several months’ worth of detergent.
- Extra rinse cycle – a handy feature for finishing heavy loads and clearing everything from pet hair to detergent residue.
- End of cycle signal – a tone or beep alerts you when clothes are ready to move on to the dryer or clothesline.
- Automatic temperature control – adjusts the water to the optimal temperature for the setting selected, rather than just mixing hot and cold water together.
Learn more about “How much it costs” to replace various items around your house on our blog. Some of our most popular articles are linked below for you convenience.