To Repair or Replace: A Guide

This laptop is probably beyond repair, Flickr: Sean MacEntee

To repair or replace? This question comes up frequently when weighing repair options for cars. It can also apply to electronics, yard equipment, appliances, furniture and other items. While buying a new version of a worn product may be the easiest solution, it isn’t always the best for the environment.

Why should someone consider repairing? It reduces the amount of trash going to a landfill and can cut down on chemicals emitted from e-waste. Plus, it can end up saving money, time and even effort in the long run!

Here are some things to consider when weighing your options on repairing versus replacing:

  • Check your warranty. The product may still be covered and free to fix.
  • Run the numbers by using the 50% rule. If a repair is estimated to cost 50% or less than the amount you paid (or current retail price), repair it. If it will cost more than 50%, replace it.
  • Take into account the life span of the item. Refrigerators should last 15-19 years, whereas a dishwasher lasts about 10-11 years.
  • Will the item appreciate? Some items gain value over time, like certain cars, so it may be worthwhile to hang onto those items.
  • Consider the cost of delivery and removal and/or installation of large items.
  • Research the repair options because each requires a different level of expertise and standards, but also come with a separate set of costs. Will the item require factory service, an authorized service provider orĀ  an independent service provider?
  • Old electronics use more electricity than newer, more efficient models. It may be worth the cost to replace an appliance if energy use decreases.
  • Do your research when making purchasing decisions. Publications like Consumer Reports test products for you and make recommendations on the best brands for most product lines.
  • If you must replace, research rebates for replacing old appliances like a tax credit for new windows.