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January 02, 2009


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We take it case by case as well - but this got me thinking after we were watching "Ask this old house" this weekend and they changed out a hot water heater for a tankless hot water heater. It seems to be a big investment up front but would pay off in the long run, will have to investigate.

Big Boy --

See if this helps you:

We replaced our stove over the holidays. The old one was starting to go. One burner died, and the stove was not cooking as evenly. I am sure we could have gotten more time out of it and fixed the burner for a few bucks but the dang Kenmore 20% off sale plus wanting a new oven bug bit us and we succumbed. We had set money aside a while back for this inevitable replacement so I guess I can say we got a good deal. We are quite happy with the new one.

Last year at about this time our washing machine started to exhibit signs of being in need for repair or replacement. I had a appliance guy come in and did not say anything real enlightening, yes it cost the standard fee. He then informed me for what it cost for them to repair it I could get a new one for just a bit more.

Well, I took matters into my own hands. I tore the washing machine apart, found the problem (it wasn't what repair guy said or I had initially thought it would be), replaced the parts need replacement and put it back together. That machine is still doing a good job for us!

I paid out about $150.00 for the job - including treating my brother to dinner & the cost of beer for the both of us while we were working on it. Significantly less than the repair or a new one. Oh yeah, throw in some money for the visits to the laundramat we had to make while the machine was tore apart.

Nice job Mark. I am fairly handy, but by no means an expert handyman. Because of this I've found that my ability to make the repair is about the line to draw on whether to fix the appliance or not. When my dishwasher stop working correctly it was obviously the heating element, which I could handle on my own. It was probably a wash between whether I should have repaired it own my own (which cost me about $30 for the element) or hiring someone who probably would have added $100 labor (when factoring in what my time is worth to me when I'm also busy with work, which I was). But this rule of thumb still seems to work for me because, if the problem was more complex, I couldn't have repaired it myself and the repair by a professional would probably have taken more time and parts and the cost a lot closer to the price of a new replacement.

Regarding washer & dryers -- these can last WAY longer in their predicted life span with just a little work. Most folks own the basic Kenmore/GE/Whirlpool brands. These appliances usually have the same 3 or 4 parts that go bad from time to time. The good news is that they are EASY to replace and they are cheap ($50 or less usually). All you need to do is research a little bit on the internet and the patience to order the parts by mail. Our washer and dryer are 15 years old and going strong. I hope to keep them another 5 to 10 years.

The washer repair was more of a challenge than I anticipated, but managed to do it. I recently did two brake jobs with assistance from my Father & a buddy. The second brake job was more complicated than initially anticipated, but again, managed to git 'er done. I don't consider myself an expert handyman either, but I have the basics down and I rely on the internet, family members, and buddies to assist in these ventures.

Taking things apart is fairly straightforward and so to is putting them back together. Make no mistake about it, there are repairs that do call for professionals. Anytime a repair requires specialized tools, is dangerous than I usually go for a professional. However, if a repair is doable with a standard socket & wrench set then I look into taking it on myself. I wrote about car repairs here:

Texashaze, this was the case with my washing machine. I thought and the repairman told me the problem was with the tub's main bearing, but it turned out to be the spider. When I was reading appliance repair sites on the Internet, it turns out the spider is a very common failure for our washer.

I am glad I didn't buy a new bearing for that job and waited until we KNEW what was wrong.

Big Boy,

We installed a tankless hot water heater. It worked out great for us. We found a good price and were also able to use both Federal and State tax credits.

Our utility bill has gone down and I no longer have to take a cold shower (which happened before if my wife was doing laundry or my teenagers took long showers before me). I have 2 boys and 2 girls. Having a consistent hot shower was worth the expense along.

The other side benefit is that you do not have the worry of damage caused from a leaky hot water tank.

We purchased a home in 2007 which included a range/oven that is probably around 18 yrs old. It works, but isn't the prettiest thing and this will likely be the first appliance that we will replace in 2009. On the other hand, we have a Kenmore washer/dryer set that is going into it's 21st year which my husband has had to replace the element in the dryer once and the gears on the arm of the washer once, as these are still working well and the self repairs are inexpensive, unless there is a catastrophic breakdown we may not be replacing these items for at least a few more years.

My husband is hemming and hawing on the tankless water heater since our was replaced less than 5 yrs ago so I'd be interested in hearing what people think of these...especially electric tankless vs gas.

Just replace it when it doesn't work anymore. Or if it is just outdated and their are newer versions that are significantly better and more time efficient.

for household appliances, it's strictly a replace when dead approach. I find setting up a "refridgerator" budget to be a little much as an ongoing category. Now if the handles start falling off or parts begin breaking, then that's when money is shifted to start saving. I hope for replacements to occur during the major appliance sale events. Whether that happens is another story.


In most cases, gas will be cheaper to run than electric.

I have to go with JimL. on the tankless water heater. We bought a fixer upper eleven years ago and have been replacing various items when needed. I love my tankless water heater. We had to replace it when my old water heater provided a running stream out my garage. The tankless takes up less room, and we have constant hot water. The only downside is that I have to monitor my teenage daughter, because the cold water will no longer force her out.

We have always watched for rebates and sales on our appliances, and in return have saved a lot of money on energy efficient products. My electric bill dropped over $20 a month when we replaced the old refrigerator with a much nicer energy efficient one, plus got the fridge on sale, got rebates, and the gas company paid us some money to haul it away!

It depends on what the appliance is.

Washer/Dryer--I'll use online resources to try and repair myself.

Big kitchen appliances: ditto. However, ours are new, so still under warranty.

Water heater: ours is 11 years old, so I'm tentatively planning on just replacing it myself sometime this year. I'm not sold on tankless--a new 50-gallon tank heater + parts will probably cost $350 plus a few hours. A tankless generally requires a pro, and will probably be close to $2000. It would take a long time to recoup that. Plus, I'm still not convinced that a tankless is that much more efficient.

We had our dishwasher go out on us about a month before we moved. Since we were moving, I found the cheapest one I could and my hubby installed it. It actually worked better than the other one.

When we moved, we upgraded all our appliances (most were not left in the house anyway), and found that we have saved quite a bit in water costs and even electricity.

We will still need to replace hot water heater in the next couple of years. The jury is still out on the tankless option. I'm not sure it is worth all the extra costs. We don't have to worry about the damage from a tank leaking, etc. Ours in located in the crawl space.


We totally put the tankless in ourselves, and it was much easier than dealing with the regular water heater. For one thing it is lighter. If you can wrangle a new 50 tank, you can totally do a waterless yourself. We bought the mid range water heater and it was closer to 350 than 2K. Even with not getting the most expensive tankless water heater, we can now run two hot water items at once. We couldn't do that with the old tank.

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