Knowing when to buy a new fridge

By Joanne Loos Posted in: ImproveThe Fix is In

HR-012416-Joanne-4One of my big goals this year is to not only cut down on spending, but also to be wiser when I do spend. When it comes to spending more wisely, it does not always mean spending less.

Some big-ticket items, like appliances in your home, can be worth the extra investment. But if something is performing worse than expected, how do you know whether you should use your money to repair the appliance or to replace it?

When it was bought. If your current fridge was purchased before 1993, it is probably time to replace it. This is largely due to the federal guidelines that came into effect that year. Those guidelines ensured that refrigerators would have energy-saving features, which suggest that refrigerators purchased before this time likely use more energy than necessary.

The configuration. According to Consumer Reports, built-in refrigerators are almost always worth repairing.

Side-by-sides should be repaired in their first five years and replaced after. Bottom freezers last a bit longer with repairs within seven years and replacements after. Top freezers are a bit more complicated. Consumer Reports recommends repairing top freezers within three years of purchase, weighing repair between three and six years, and replacing after seven.

The cost. Get estimates for how much it will cost to repair the fridge, and compare those costs to estimates for replacing it all together. Consumer Reports goes by this rule: If the repair costs more than 50 percent of the price of a new one, then a replacement makes more sense.

If you decide that replacing is the way to go, remember that the lowest price does not equate to the best value. Before you begin comparing models, write down the measurements of your space. Then, think about what you want in terms of configuration, style and add-on features like high-tech capabilities.

Visit showrooms in person, take photos, and research further before committing to a purchase. Do not be afraid to negotiate. There are many showrooms in town that offer scratch and dent sales. These often include models with blemishes on the sides or back of the refrigerators that would not be visible when installed anyway.

Have a question or comment for Joanne? Email her at thefixisinhawaii@gmail.com.