In today’s ever-increasingly disposable society, it is not always easy to know what items you might want to try repairing instead of just replacing it. More importantly, the rules seem to vary from one type of thing to the next. It can all be so confusing. This guide offers a variety of tips and tactics to help you decide when it is best to buy another item or if you would be better served to repair your existing products instead.
Repairing items offers a few distinct advantages worth considering, such as:
- Most of the time, it is a more affordable option
- No need to learn how to use new items
- Nothing to dispose of or recycle
- In many cases, it has a less severe impact on the environment
Of course, there are advantages when it comes to replacing items that are worth considering as well, such as:
- Availability of factory warranties
- Significant improvements in technology, styles and features
- Improved energy efficiency with lower environmental impact
As you can see, under the right circumstances, the arguments for either can be compelling. This guide hopes to help you understand the right conditions for replacing or repairing your broken things.
Repair or Replace Rules of Thumb
Before you dive too deep into the rules of thumb for repairing vs. replacing your treasured possessions, there is one unaddressed factor with these calculations. That is the sentimental factor. There are some things where the cost of repair is not a factor because the possession has worth to you beyond its financial value. Barring that truth, these rules of thumb will help you make wiser financial decisions when making decisions about repairing or replacing items in your home or garage.
Automobiles: Repair or Replace
For cars, there are many mitigating factors to help you decide if it is best to repair or replace. One of the most important, being the costs of repairing the vehicle vs. replacing it. Some people view a car repair as a one-time investment that will keep the car on the road, at a minimum, for another year or two. That compares favorably to taking on another car loan and having higher insurance rates and fees that might go along with a newer vehicle.
However, sometimes the car is old enough that the repairs keep on coming. When that occurs, you have to weigh the long-term costs of repairing, loss of use, and overall inconvenience with the costs of replacing your vehicle. With vehicles, the question almost always comes down to a matter of math.
Appliances: Repair or Replace
In May 2017, The Washington Post offered a handy guide that helped determine at which age you might wish to consider replacing certain household appliances rather than repairing them. Some suggestions it offers include repairing until items approach the ends of their expected life spans which look something like this:
- Washing machines and water heaters: 10 years
- Air conditioners and furnaces: 15 years
- Dishwashers and microwaves: 9 years
- Refrigerators, stoves, and ovens: 13 years
Appliances that have not yet reached these ages may not be ready for a replacement, though the costs of repairing them may give you second thoughts. If that is the case, make the best financial decision for your current situation.
Other Considerations to Keep in Mind
There are more things to consider beyond bringing in a professional to repair your broken things. There are some things you may be able to repair yourself. Especially in light of all the amazing instructional videos that are available online to help with the simplest and most complex tasks. Factors to consider if you are thinking about repairing items yourself include the following:
- Do you have the necessary tools?
- How much time will the repair take?
- Can you afford to bring in a professional (or replace the item) if you are unable to repair it on your own?
- Does it cost more to dispose of it than to repair it?
- Is it costing you money in its current state?
For instance, drafty doors and windows can be repaired more easily than replaced but doing nothing can cost you in the form of higher energy bills.
The better you understand your options, the more informed decisions you can make when the time comes to consider repairing or replacing your possessions.