Why Don’t New Appliances Last as Long?

You have probably thought at some point, “Things aren’t made like they used to be.” … and you’re probably right. 

Cars, homes, and many more things used to be made painstakingly by hand, and they didn’t wear out or break after just a few years. These days, though, most of our everyday items are mass produced to the point that quality suffers in order to get more products out the door. 

Home appliances are no different. This includes dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, dishwashers and refrigerators. What was once made of durable solid metal is now made of plastic or foam with a thin layer of sheet metal. 

But what’s more disturbing is that in our experience as an appliance repair service in DC these appliances don’t last as long as they once did. 

Lifespan of New Appliances 

Let’s look at the lifespan of some of the more common home appliances today compared to the same ones years ago. 

Studies show that modern appliances fail years before older models would have. Home appliances built during the 1970s lasted anywhere from 30 to 50 years compared to only a decade for most of today’s. Over the years we have sacrificed technology and efficiency for appliances that last only a fraction of the time. 

To give you an idea of how long you can expect to have your modern appliances before they need to be repaired or replaced, here are a few estimates: 

  • Trash compactor – 6 years 
  • Dishwasher – 9 years 
  • Microwave – 9 years 
  • Washing machine – 10 years
  • Dryer – 10 years
  • Garbage disposal – 12 years
  • Refrigerator – 13 years
  • Oven/stove – 15 years 
  • Faucets – 15 years

Again, these are estimates. In prior decades, fewer units were made. Therefore, they were all built in the same facilities with the same parts. Now, there is a much higher demand for home appliances, so every company has multiple manufacturing facilities and likely uses parts supplied by different vendors. For this reason, the lifespan of your appliances will vary. 

As you can probably tell, these numbers mean that if you build a new home or replace all your appliances at one time, you will probably find that 5-10 years down the road, it seems like every time you turn around, a major home appliance is tearing up. This can be devastating to your budget, even if you have a home improvement fund to fall back on. 

There are a couple of additional factors that make today’s appliances more replaceable than they were 30 or so years ago. 

  1. Repairs were easier on older models. Newer appliances are made of smaller, more fragile parts that are hard to repair or replace. It’s often more affordable – and sometimes the only option – to replace the unit entirely. 
  2. Technology changes more rapidly today than it ever has. Refrigerators have tablets built in. Dishwashers can be controlled from your mobile phone. As soon as you buy an appliance, it becomes outdated. 

Why Don’t Appliances Last as Long? 

There are a couple of reasons why appliances don’t last like they used to. 

  1. Unfortunately, many manufacturing services are outsourced to the lowest bidder, who often sacrifices quality for quantity. Whether these products are made here in the U.S. or abroad, the workmanship that goes into each unit has drastically decreased over the last half century. 
  2. Appliances are no longer made with heavy duty materials, in part, because they are easier and less expensive to ship when made with lighter materials. Not to mention that plastic is a forgiving material for modern appliances that utilize technology, but it is also less durable than solid metal. 

Is It Time to Replace or Repair My Appliances? 

This is a tough question, because some appliances far outlive their life expectancy, while others are complete lemons and have to be replaced much sooner than expected. You may be able to use your washing machine for 15 years with no issues, for example, but need to replace your dryer after only 6 or 7. 

Here are a couple of general guidelines if you are trying to decide whether to repair or replace an appliance

  • The repairs will cost as much as a new appliance. 

The rule of thumb for repair versus replacement is that if an appliance is more than half its expected age and the repairs would cost at least half the cost of a new one, go ahead and replace it. 

By following this rule, it assumes that you’ve probably gotten your money’s worth out of the old one, and you aren’t taking a risk spending a ton on repairs just for the appliance to break again shortly after. 

  • Your appliance needs major repairs very soon after purchasing. 

Let’s preface this by saying, if your appliance is still under warranty, have it fixed and hope the problem is taken care of for good. The warranty should cover any problems within normal usage, as well as manufacturer issues. Most appliance warranties are one-year warranties, and many of them are limited. 

Unfortunately, though, if you are experiencing issues just a year or two after purchase, you may have just gotten a bad one. It does still happen, despite quality control standards. Sometimes you just have to cut your losses and move on. 

  • The amount of use you will get out of it after the repair. 

This goes back to our first point, in a way, but with a little difference. As we said, technologies change over the years, so you may be ready to move on to the next great thing. 

For example, if your oven is giving you trouble, but it’s only 10 years old, you could hang on for another 5 years or so, making repairs as needed, or you could upgrade to an induction oven and enjoy the latest technology on the commercial market. 

To offset the cost of repairs, you can consider purchasing a warranty service agreement from a local appliance repair company. This can really be a moneysaving move if you want to get the most out of your appliances.