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Laundry Machines: Should You Repair or Replace?November 25th, 2019 by
Unexpected washing machine or dryer problems can throw a wrench in your chore plans for a while, but they don’t necessarily mean that you need to immediately start your search for a new machine.
In some cases, the issue is something you can fix on your own, but it’s always best to consult an appliance repair pro first. Your technician will be able to tell you for sure if the problem is worth repairing or if you should simply purchase a new washer or dryer.
Because not knowing exactly how to fix malfunctioning laundry machines (or if doing so is even worth it) can be stressful, we’ve created a guide to help! Keep reading for a list of the most common problems you might encounter with your washer or dryer as well as how to decide whether you should shell out for a fix or opt for a brand-new machine.
Common Washing Machine Problems
Is your washing machine making a strange rattling or vibrating noise when you use it? Is it stopping in the middle of the cycle, or leaving your clothes sopping wet at the end of one?
At its most basic, your washing machine is an engine with a drivetrain and transmission. Like any machine powered by an electric engine, quite a few things can go wrong. But the good news is that in some cases, the fix is an easy one for an appliance repair professional.
Unless you’re skilled in the art of small electric engine repair, don’t risk getting in over your head and doing further damage by attempting to fix the problem yourself.
Check out these common issues:
- Washing machine makes strange sounds. You may have water damage on the tub bearings. This is usually due to a bad seal, which is a simple fix for your appliance repair tech.
- Water doesn’t drain. The machine’s drain pump may need to be replaced, which can wear out with steady use or washing hard objects.
- Basket spins slowly or not at all. This is typically a sign of a bad coupler, which is caused by consistently overloading the washer. Depending on the age of your washer, your appliance repair tech may recommend replacing this part.
- Washer stops mid cycle. This problem could be the result of a worn lid switch. If the machine senses the lid unlocking during a wash cycle, it will pause the cycle for safety purposes.
Common Dryer Problems
Like washers, clothes dryers sometimes stop working. Again, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to run out to purchase a new one.
Err on the side of safety by calling in an appliance repair pro to take a look if any of the following issues occur:
- Dryer won’t start. Several issues can cause a dryer not to start. Before you call a professional, ensure the electricity is reaching your dryer’s power supply and check to make sure the door switch is working correctly.
- Dryer doesn’t heat. A dryer that isn’t heating properly may need a new thermal fuse, which can trip and keep the dryer from working if it assumes it’s overheating. It may also be a heating element on the back of the dryer.
- The dryer makes noise while in use. Excessive noise from your dryer is a sign of wear. Your appliance repair technician may need to replace the plastic glides, the blower wheel, or the drum support roller. The main belt may also be the culprit.
- Dryer isn’t tumbling. The most common cause of a dryer that isn’t tumbling is a broken belt. Having it replaced will likely get your dryer working again.
- Clothes take too long to dry. If clothes are taking too long to dry, check the lint trap. Forgetting to empty it can cause the dryer to take longer to work and poses a serious fire hazard.
How to Decide Between Repair and Replacement
When your laundry machines malfunction, your main question will probably be, do you call one to repair your laundry machine, or do you call one to bring you a new one? You’ll need to ask yourself several more questions to determine whether you should repair or replace.
How much will the appliance repair cost?
The cost of the repair vs. the cost of purchasing a new washer or dryer is often one of the deciding factors for homeowners. If your broken appliance will cost more than 50% of the replacement cost to repair, it’s probably a good idea to simply purchase a new one. If you have your eye on a dryer that costs $1,000, and a repair technician quotes you $700, the extra $300 could mean savings in the long run.
The initial cost isn’t the only factor, though. You should also consider how much time, effort, and money you’ll spend on the logistics of removing the old washer or dryer and putting the new one in its place. If your local appliance store offers free delivery and installation, this won’t be as big a factor. However, if you need to pay for the installation or do it yourself, you may find that repairing it is more cost-effective for now.
Is your current washer and dryer energy efficient?
Energy costs are on the rise, and if your washer or dryer is too old, it’s likely adding to your climbing utility bill. Deciding to switch to a newer, more energy-efficient model could save you money down the road. When shopping for a new appliance, each one should have an EnergyGuide label on it. This will help you determine how much money the new washer or dryer could help you save.
Seek out ENERGY STAR labels as well. The U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency certifies appliances with these labels as superior in energy efficiency. For example, a washer with the Energy Star label is about 20% more efficient than one without it.
Remember, age factors into how energy-efficient your washer and dryer are. Like the cost, you can use the 50% rule for the age of your washer and dryer. This means if it is more than 50% of the way through its expected lifespan, plus the repair will cost more than 50% of the price of a new one, consider replacing it. Have you had your dryer for more than six years or your washer for more than 10 years? They may be good candidates for replacement.
Have you been maintaining the units properly?
Sometimes, an appliance breaks down simply because you forgot to keep up with the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance routine. Repairing a small issue and then getting back into a routine can help extend the life of your washer and dryer. For example, you should check the dryer’s exhaust vent annually, empty the lint trap after every load, and remember never to overload the washer or the dryer.
How to Choose the Right Appliance Repair Technician
If you do decide to hire an appliance repair technician, you want to be sure you find someone who is trustworthy and reliable. This means you can’t rush the process. Even if you feel it is an emergency, taking the time to ask questions and compare price quotes from two or three technicians ensures you may find the best technician for your budget.
Start by asking your friends for referrals. Chances are your family members, friends, or even neighbors have someone in mind or can at least tell you whom to avoid. When asking questions, find out how long the service took, whether the estimate was on par with the true cost, and whether they would call the same technician if in need of service again.
Preparing now may save you from a true laundry machine emergency in the future.