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Appliances Have a Shorter Life Span

comments (1) August 7th, 2014 in Blogs
ScottG Scott Gibson, contributing writer

This 9-year-old dishwasher recently needed a new heating element. Installed cost: $175.Click To Enlarge

This 9-year-old dishwasher recently needed a new heating element. Installed cost: $175.

Appliances are smarter than they used to be, and they use less energy, so they're cheaper to operate. What's the catch? They don't seem to last as long as appliances of a generation ago.

According to a recent article in The Columbus Dispatch, the average life span of household appliances is between 10 and 15 years, in line with predictions in a 2007 study by the National Association of Home Builders.

"The days of them lasting 25 or 30 years are gone," said Robert Rist of Central Ohio Appliance Repair.

The article cites a 2013 by Consumer Reports that found 31% of side-by-side refrigerators were kaput within four years of purchase. Over the same period, 22% of front-loading washing machines and 20% of dishwashers went on the fritz.

As bad as that sounds, the magazine added, it's actually better than it was in 2010.

More complicated, higher rate of failure

There are a number of potential explanations, including the use of components that are thinner or made from less robust materials. Repair experts also say features that save water and energy are complex, which makes them more likely to fail, according to the article.

Smaller compressors in refrigerators, for example, save energy and make refrigerators more efficient to operate, but they're also more prone to problems. Ditto for dishwashers; they use much less water than in the past, but now consumers are more likely to call in a service technician because they don't clean as well.

An editor at Consumer Reports also told the newspaper that problems are more likely to be serious.

"When products break, it's memorable," said deputy content editor Celia Lehrman. "About 53 percent of respondents said the products just stopped working altogether, and 32 percent said they work poorly, so it's a big deal when it breaks. It's not like the light stopped working on a refrigerator."

posted in: Blogs, appliances

Comments (1)

DonBurgard DonBurgard writes: My wife and I will be refrigerator shopping this weekend after our 11-year-old Kenmore started failing a few days ago. Our first response was to call for a repair person, but he told us that the repair would cost $400 and that the life span of the model we have is only 9 to 10 years. I remember fondly my grandmother's GE model from the 1960s, which was still running over 30 years later. Sure, its handle and latch made it a potential safety hazard, and it was undoubtedly an energy hog, but it's tough to argue with that kind of longevity in an appliance that runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Posted: 3:02 pm on August 7th

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